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The Civilized, Chapter 12 - English Translation of Les Civilisés


English Text

Fierce pressed his head up to the glass of the window of the jewelry shop, staring inside.

He was looking for a jewelry box among the opened ones. But there were so many things on the shelves that it was hard to see. Legions of rings and bracelets, delicate inlaid Chinese silverware, a jungle of glinting metal tumblers, cups, ewers, and saucers, that for the life of Fierce he couldn't find what he was looking for.

He entered into the shop. Fernnande, a famous Jewish woman here in Saigon, came to greet him, welcoming him with a hint of a smile.

"I wanted a bracelet, a gold circle studded with emeralds. You've had them on display sometime..."

The port swung open suddenly, and the tall figure of Malais filled the frame. It had been two days since Fierce had seen the banker - since the poker party.

"Fancy that," said Malais spryly, you here? A toy for Liseron I bet..."

He called the Jewish woman who was looking through the jewelry boxes.

"Fernande! My fan? I hope it's ready this time?"

He turned to Fierce.

"A present from my wife to Mrs. Abel. Tell me if it's in good taste..."

Fierce held the fan admiringly.

"Wow! It's gorgeous! Where did you steal the feathers for it?"

The fan was made from marabout stork feathers and mother of pearl, with a golden vine decorated the fan part with bunches of black pearls filling in for grapes.

"Heh!" said Fierce with a laugh. "A vine! Really want to drive the pot-de-vin (translator note: bribe but literally a pot of wine) point home do you?"

Malais smiled. "But what about this bracelet, what's it's about?"

The bracelet that Fernand showed was a big heavy thing to wrap around your wrist, studded with dazzling jewels. The jeweler read the price tag - 2,000 piastres.

"Well, you've found a way to spend your winnings from two days ago I see."

Fierce smiled himself. Malais slapped his forehead. "I've got it! It'll be a perfect gift for Chasseloup-Laubat street, that golden ingot covered with precious stones."

Fierce looked puzzled. "Chasseloup street...?"

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"Don't play innocent!" You're getting it for Miss Ariette."

"Please, don't," said the officer tautly.

But Malais just shrugged.

"My dear boy, no false modesty! You're going to make Fernande laugh. Everyone is too secretive around here..."

Fierce thought of Mévil, and gave up trying to deny it. "Damn you man! How'd you guess?"

"Because you're at least the 20th man whose already tried his hand at it."

Malais had sat down, after glancing at his watch. Foubtless he had time since he was still talking.

"The twentieth at least! You're getting wrapped up in a regular family. I've known them for a long time - I met the Ariettes in Noumea, eight years ago. They had just been married, and their honeymoon hadn't been going that well. They didn't like each other, and hadn't since they had met, but soon they got the measure of each other..."

"The wife was prettier back then. And people noticed, and one of them was the son of an archbishop, agreeably rich - one of your comrades actually, the lieutenqnt commanding the Caledonia naval station. It happened like it always does, and one evening, Ariette bided his time and found the two of them in flagrante delicto. As a tactful man, he didn't raise a storm about - he accepted 50,000 francs to not say anything.

"And the archbishop's son paid?"

"Mrs. Ariette made him pay. You know her method, I imagine?"

"And afterwards?"

"From then on, the two of them had an agreement. Any liaisons were permitted for the other one, with the requirement that they be just as profitable, and that the profits be shared honestly as well."

"My! A modern arrangement, but not hypocritical..."

He paid for the bracelet.

"Two thousand piastres," remarked Malais, curiously. "Are you sure that it's worth it?"

Fierce thought a second. "Probably not... and yet... No woman is worth two thousand piastres, not even two hundred. It's a nice enough diversion, if sometimes a bit boring, that we get from girls when they put out, but it really should be a lot cheaper than it is. But in my opinion, this overrated activity is just part of what I like for sensual things, and I admit that I haven't even wanted to ask Miss Ariette about it."


"No, we had... not important. What might be worth it is the decoration and the style. It's such a piquant contrast between the lunch I was invited to and the dessert that I had eaten on the lounge chair - it's the spice of a virtuous prologue, a family dining room, mother, four year old baby..."..

"Eight - eight years old."

"Four, see! You can tell by her figure."

"Eight. You forget the climate which stunts the brats - it's a great boon for mothers since they look younger in comparison."

Malais rose. Obsequiously, the Jewish woman hurried over to accompany him to the door. Fierce reached out to caress one of her breasts as she passed by - a pretty woman, really.

"In fact," he said to Malais. "You're sure about Fernande?"

"As far as discretion goes? For sure! She's Jewish! She's too sly and too greedy to betray a client when there's no money to be made. And if there's another scandal, what's that to her? Every adultery and every bribe in Saigon comes through here. This is a real den of villainy!"

"Such as for example, the bracelet and the fan."

"Exactly! Adultery and a bribe - although my bribe's sweetened, sugared, prepared for the hands of that semi-honest man Abel, and your adultery, what did you say, it's..;"

"Breaking into the convent, one for young maidens."

Malais laid his hand on Fierce's shoulder.

"Does that amuse you?"

"What? Adultery in the convent?

"No - rather the life that you live, and that you're always playing the role of a blowhard rake?"

"I don't really like it, no. But you've made a mistake - it's not just a role that I'm playing."

The two of them walked side by side. Malais' carriage followed them, pulled by a splendid team of black Australian horses, two times bigger than the Indochinese ponies.

"You're the symbol of the type of man that I hate the most," said the banker suddenly. "A breed of elegant anarchists. But still, despite that, I can't help but like you. I want to help you escape from the mire that you're stuck in now. Yes, you're in a morass, don't tell me no. Come on, will you take some advice? Leave your normal gang behind and hang out with other people. That's not asking anything from you and you aren't risking too much to do it - you're not around Ariette, Rochet, the rest of the band anymore. And under that honorable facade that they put up, if only you know the lot of scoundrels that they are! Rochet? A master singer who's gone senile. Ariette? He's both a professional liar and a thug. His wife? A hypocritical whore, I like your Liseron a hundred times more since she doesn't hide it, doesn't try to fool anyone else, and doesn't insist on being treated like she isn't.

I didn't say anything to you about Torral or Mévil, since they're your friends... and in any case I don't lump them together with the colonial clique, they're a better sort - worse though, they have a sort of devious intelligence. Whatever. What I wanted to tell you, is that there are other people that you don't know, and that you'd probably like to meet. There are some - not many, but there are. You want to come see them? Follow me home? I swear I'm not such an honest man after all!"

"You're not?

"No. I'm a bandit, dear fellow - I've stolen, pillaged, ransomed, I've made my fortune, and that phase where I built my fortune on a litany of petty crimes that made me both a millionaire and a criminal. But because of the list of wrongdoings that I've committed, I'm a terrible sucker for everything that's honnest. In my house, Mr. Fierce, you don't meet any dubious folk - it's quite the luxury here in Saigon to refuse those people's company, but I'm rich enough to have whatever I want. My wife gets to have the privilege of only being around honest people..."

"Aren't you afraid," said Fierce mockingly, "that I'll spoil things then?"

"That's up to me. Come.


"When you want. For a special someone like you we don't need to set up an appointment."

They were passing in front of the Hong Kong and Shanghai. With the suddenness that marked all of his movements, Malais shook Fierce's hands and disappeared behind the double doors.

Fierce left thoughtfully. New flowers of thought were blooming in his mind, pushing away his old ideas. He let his attention wander, and without really planning it he turned his back on the path he had, the five o'clock inspection at the postal center, and his carriage was waiting on Tuduc street - but Tuduc street was next to the Donai river, and Fierce, walking absentmindedly, let his feet carry him away from the waters.

He left the busy and noisy central streets behind. Saigon's northern quarters were shot through with wide, shady, and calmer streets. Fierce crossed Chasseloup-Laubat street without recognizing it, Ariette's street, only the green coolness of the villas hidden among the gardens, behind wooden picket fences catching his thoughts - but it didn't seem possible that one of the cottages had a woman that he knew so well. It was an odd state of mind that he was in.

He kept on walking, ignoring everything that happened in the streets. Next to a fancy native house, a young native mistress, standing at the front and knocking on the door, let out a silvery laugh to try to draw his attention. But he just kept walking, his head down. Saigon is the best city in the world to forget everything - the suffocating heat and the humidity dulled the senses, and the red dust of the streets deadened suffer.

"Life is stupid," Fierce muttered. It was the sum of a mess of confused thoughts, pessimistic thoughts. Without a doubt, the people he frequented, dishonest people according to conventional morality, were alo a monotonously tiring. His very existence was monotonous when you got down to it, almost disgustingly so, monotonous and even insipid, with all of these pleasures that he kept trying to attempt to spice it up. He repeated, again and again, "I don't like that." He pondered the incredible poverty of the store of human joys. All told there were just five sensations that were supposed to be pleasurable. Just five! And the highest regarded of the lot was the tactile sensation, love - reduced just to the medical definition, skin touching skin. Nothing more, nothing more noble. Skin? Not even that - just mucus. A couple square inches of skin. And yet on this subject there was so much importance, so much literature that was staked! It was embarassing. Alternatively he stabbed out at either Mévil, crazy enough to truly love love, and Torral, silly enough to try to reduce happiness down to his simple formula...

"The greatest amount of pleasure - but there is no such thing as pleasure. Just an illusion. And yet, what if there were some undiscovered ones?"

A ray of the setting sun crossed his face. He shaded himself with his helmet, and peered around robotically. There was a street sign up - Moïs Street, the Moïs being an ancient Indochinese people. Fierce saw two rows of old trees, and gardens ligning the road. The houses were isolated from each other, scattered. The closest was a villa in Annamite style, big and low, with brick walls and an overhanging curving roof, with an ebony veranda hidden behind the screen of a fast growing vine, and towering banian trees that cast dappled shadows down below onto the glazed roof tiles.

A carriage was waiting at the door. A serving was holding the docile horses, the type that would belong to a young woman or an old lady. The street, the house, the wagon, the elegant and serious garden that you caught flashes of through the fence, came together for a simple and elegant feeling of people.

Fierce thought ,"They must be happy there - sheltered from all of our earthy sins and excesses..."

He halted next to the fence. Two women were coming out of the house, and felt his heart start suddenly, a little heart attack - Miss Sylva was coming towards him, leading a woman with white hair and uncertain footsteps to the carriage. A blind woman, her mother obviously - a sweet, pale and smiling face, beautiful despite the closed eyelids.

Miss Sylva, attentive and tenderly, carried their two parasols and a light evening coat. The blind woman mounted into the carriage, the young woman helping her and then sitting next to her, until she turned, and saw the officer four paces from her.

"Mr. Fierce!" An exclamation of unalloyed pleasure. Her darting little waved at him. An introduction was in order.

"Mom, this is the aide de camp of Mr. Orvilliers. Fierce, my mother already knows you very well, I've talked a lot about your ship - and about you..."

Fierce bowed low. Miss Sylva wasn't concerned with her carriage ride anymore, and she was talking excitedly and happily, pleased to have run into her partner from the ship. But meeting out on the street! The house would serve much better, she kept on trying to tell Fierce.

"Please," protested Fierce, "don't mind my interruption and don't delay your excursion for me! And madame, I don't have the right to be received by you - me coming here to your door was just pure chance, I didn't know that you lived here."

"Then chance smiled on us!" replied Sélysette graciously. "But if you really don't want to come inside, then please, come ride with us: we'll let you off wherever you want. And that'll count as a visit. Come on, fate brought you here for a reason!"

"You really do tempt me," said Fierce," but I don't want to be a burden."

"You won't me! There's a good fold down seat, I love them myself.."

"Ahh, in that case don't worry, stay on your seat and I'll take it."

He got into the carriage slowly and sat down on the seat that Sélysette let down for him. The vehicle set off. Fierce's knees were in between the ladies' blue and black skirts, trying to be as proper as possible.

"Do you have anything you have to do?" asked Séylsette. "If not, come with us to Tudac: we'll return to the city before 7 o'clock."

Fierce accepted and thanked her more warmly than politeness demanded. Really, this unexpected ride delighted him. For an hour Malais' words had been troubling his thoughts, and he wanted to try to meet these honest people that he didn't frequent, hadn't even met, anywhere. What would they be like? Maybe they'd be more interesting, less monotonous than his circle of trollops, scammers, and civilized nihilists - the overcivilized. When he sat down next to this young woman, so truly pure and honest - he didn't doubt it for a second - Fierce imagined himself to have found a mountain meadow, after a long odyssey of his voyage through gambling haunts, seedy theaters, brothels, opium dens, where he could find peace, chastely breathing in the sweet air of the glaciers, far away from the mortal world's crassness.

And miss Sélysette's smile, her chattering, were fresh and charming - and her mother's face, her voice, so sweet and peaceful.

Fierce, overcome with contentment, his heart bursting with affection, didn't say anything. The carriage skirted the ancient citadel by country roads, passing over the arroyo at Garden Bridge. The bridge was deserted, as were the red pathways which slumbered in between the hedges of bamboo and magnolia. Saigon would wait to strut and show herself off when the Inspection passed, and the garden didn't have anyone strolling through it until the sun set.

Sélysette was questioning him. "You must already have been to Tuduc, right?"

"Tuduc..." Fierce was wrenched out of his limp silence to respond. Tuduc.. no."

Sélysette let loose little cry of scandalized indignation. "You haven't been to Tuduc yet! But my god, what have you been up to! Fifteen days that Bayard has been here in Saigon and you haven't been there!"

Now that was a delicate question, trying to tell her what he'd been doing!

"Not too much really. I always go out late, and my driver takes me where he feels like, which is always the Inspection."

"I can't stand the Inspection," declared Sélysette hotly. "There are too many carriages, you have to get too dressed up, too many chic people, and it's stupid to just drive straight ahead, you can't even trot! And you'll see that Tuduc's road is a hundred times more beautiful..."

She had such a charm when she said it that Fierce already agreed. Near the bridge, the road to Truduc was still just a pleasant trail which wound among the rice paddies, between thickets of magnolias, but the rice paddies were greener than any Irish meadow, and the blooms of the magnolias perfumed the air with their heady sweetness.

"There's no place in the world with such beautifully perfumed paths as here. Saigon's a flower unto herself."

"Nowhere else?" asked Sélysette. "That's true, you've been everywhere... Tell me a bit about your trips."

Fierce obediently started to talk. He had travelled all over the world - and he could talk about the peoples and the countryside, and choose a hundred anecedotes and picturesque details that would strike her fancy.

He started off with Japan that he had just left. There were the white wooden houses that looked like they had jsut been built, with towering trees that cast them in a shadow of mysterious green. There were the arched bridges that spanned across dry river beds, and the countryside chayas where the traveler could always have a cup of steaming hot tea, a slice of castella cake, the polite smile of the busy serving girl. He described the silhouette of steep Mount Fuji, and its procession of yellow, blue, and mauve pilgrims that dotted its surface like dazzling beads. He left out the yoshi-varas with their bamboo lattices, the mousmés who accepted you so honestly, readily, and all of Japan's skébés (obscenity) - it was easy to do it, since Sélysette had such an air of purity and innocence around her.

The carriage passed over a creek on a bridge made from pink brick.

"Are they like this, the Japanese bridges?" asked Sélysette.

"Not at all, there's a thousand differences - so many that I can't explain it. But when I look at this stream and this arch, I know that I'm in Cochinchina, and only there. In the entire world, for eyes who can tell there difference, there are no countries quite the same."

"How fascinating," breathed the young woman, "that you've seen so many things and that they're almost photographed in your memory! Your head must be like a photo album!"

"Interesting - and saddening too", objected her mother, her voice contemplative. "Sailors are always exiled away from every country that they've loved, and they must have just as many nostalgic memories as they have voyages..."

Torral, last week, had taunted Fierce when he was in a melancholy mood, and the contrast between that and Madame Sylva's sympathy seemed all the sweeter for it.

"Nostalgia alone doesn't make you sad. Us sailors still have the sharp and beautiful image of the lands we once saw, but it's rare that we miss them, since the places that we see now are just as beautiful and it drives away our regret. Look at this forest with its blossoming magnolias! Why would I want to be anywhere else?"

Sélysette bobbed her blonde head.

"And tomorrow, in another forest, you'll forget this one. It's ficklenes."

"I admit it. but if I was always holding onto the past, I'd be depressed soon..."

He started to allow his dreams to speak, unchecked, for the first time in his life.

"You can be fickle without being unfaithful. I still remember the past's beautiful moments, but they've already passed - why should their specters continue to haunt today's pleasures? When I turn the page of my life, I ty to look at the new page with fresh eyes. It's easy, since the two pages are never the same. Here in Saigon I'm no longer the Japanese Fierce of two months ago, and the Japanese Fierce himself isn't the Parisian Fierce from last year, nor the Turkish or Tahitian Fierce from before that..."

Sélysette's laugh tinkled. "Tell us a bit then, about these bbygone Fierces that you've left behind?"

"They're dear friends to me, who I loved before - sometimes I think that they're still alive in the countries I've visited. Tahitian Fierce for example, was a meditative person, who only had time for trees, meadows, and streams. Every day he would walk in the countryside, dressed in a parao of blue cloth, his head crowned with a great straw hat - barefoot, naturally. he rented a hut in the middle of a garden of coconut palms in the little village masquerading as a capital of Papeete. And when he received letters and newspapers, once a month, dotted with stamps and inked with seals he wouldn't open the letters, and shred the newspapers to light his cooking fire."

"And what about Turkish Fierce?"

"He was a very devout Muslim, who wouldn't go a week without praying to Allah in one of Istanbul's most stately mosques. And then afterwards, seated on the terrass of a Turkish cafe, he would quietly watch the Bosporus, and every Friday - a day of rest - would spend four hours dreaming in the middle of Skutari's cemetary."

"Was there a Chinese Fierce too?"

"Of course! That one spent every second proud about being the oldest race in the world, with the most far sighted and detached philosophers too. He was a very frustrating man - he was only concerned about having enough rice paper and ink, and didn't care about anything in the real world."

Sélysette looked pensive. "So many minds that have taken their turn in your head! It's a bit worrying - tomorrow you'll have changed again, and I met you in Paris or Japan, we'd have to get to know each other allim over again."

"Perhaps. I link to think of myself like a photographic plate - a ray of sunshine, and the image imprinted on it vanishes, but all you need is a fixative to make it permanent."

"And the fixative?"

"I haven't found it yet."

There was a long silence. The road ducked into the betel palm woods which surrounded Tuduc, and the magnolias, the rice paddies, the red dust shimmering in the sun was left behind them. Instead the betel palms alone pressed up against each other, their trunks rough and straight - far above, fifty feet up, their outspread palm fronds lacing together, making a stately cathedral's arch held up by countless Ionian columns. between the trees, the earth was a rich brown, and puddles of water glistened. The entire forest had fallen silent.

Sélysette, her hands folded on her lap, lapped up the sight and ceased talking. Fierce admired her serious hazel eyes, surprised that a girl could see the beauty of a forest without flowers, without birds, and without sun.

"Sir," said the blind woman," I think that you didn't tell us everything earlier. I can see very well that in every new place you find a new soul, but it seems to me that you still have to remember your own home, your own family, and that that memory has to remain to link together all of these different men that you think yourself in turn.."

"I don't have a family or a home," said Fierce

"No one?"

"No one."

"That's quite sad at your age..."

Fierce thought for a second. A home is a prison, a prison filled with chains - parents, relatives, friends - none of which had ever really drawn him. A family? Mr., Mrs. and the rest? With screaming and yelling brats? A bit of slavery, a bit of humiliation, a bit of dishonor - what an appetizing destiny! Fierce wanted to laugh. But when he looked up in front of him, there it was - this family which so surprised and disconcerted him, with the smiling and tender mother, the beautiful and wholesome daughter - and quite sincerely, he responded.

"Sad, yes. Sometimes it happens, Wandering Jew that I am, that I discovery a stop on my route, a peaceful and inviting hearth, and when I see inside through a yawning door, there are happy husbands, beloved wives, and charming children. When those evenings pass, it's depressing on my ship, the solitude weighs on me, and despite myself, I wish something bad would happen to these overly happy people. In the end man is just an ugly envious creature, and he's only happy when he can hurt someone else, and the same for them.

It was a well trod lie, this romantic legend of the errant sailor, exiled from every land, who inwardly brimmed with eternal nostalgia and homesickness. But a list regardless which women kept on falling for, because all of them, underneath their gloss of their education, their sophistication, their exterior, had the same gullible sentimentality at heart - that Fierce was an orphan, that he didn't have a home, maybe not even a country. The two women listening, sympathetically, and they tried to figure out a way to cheer up poor Fierce's hard life.

"Sir," said Mrs. Sylva," I'm afraid that after all of your voyages, you haven't found what makes life worth living - the warmth of a family! If you want, we'd be glad to take you under our roof. You're almost the son of my old friend d'Orvilliers, who was my husband's closest companion. Please, my house is yours..."

She held out her still soft and white hand, and Fierce gave a reverential kiss. Sélysette clapped happily.

"We'll take you in! Oh! Weùre such a small band, but a good one! We don't flirt, we don't posture, we don't gossip - three exceptions from Saigon's rules! We play tennis - really! actual tennis! - we read, we talk, we go on promenades, long ones, and we keep anyone unpleasant out. A tight knit band, the governor, the Abels, and Mrs. Malais.

"Mrs. Malais?"

"Do you know her?

"Not very, but I her husband yes, just yesterday he had asked me to come see him a swell."

"What a happy coincidence! You'll see Mrs. Malais at our house, and you'll see us at her house. She's quite the perfect friend..."

Sélysette started expounding on all of Mrs. Malais' pluses. Fierce thought about how sometimes life was so miraculous. Yesterday, everything had conspired miraculously to uproot him from and make his old life disgusting, and now today everything was working to bring him to a new one. Yesterday, the world that he lived in had slyly laid out all of its flaws and all of its ugliness, and today, there was a new and beautiful world beckoning him with open arms. Why not go forth?

The carriage stopped. It was the end of the ride, since the road ended at a river, and there wasn't a bridge or a quay. Rather a ferry crossed, and on the other side Tuduc was hidden among the palm trees, so that you could only see three wattle and daub huts peeking out.

The river was run through by the forest like a giant road, the trees reflecting in the swishing water with wavering lines. Roots from the wood spilled out almost into the current, and the yellow water was iridescent with green. The Donai was dammed between two dark green walls, two pallisades of trees pressed against each other crowned with waving palm fronds. The sun, unable to penetrate into the darkness of the forest, shone all the brighter on its edge, on the liquid road, on the shining water scorched by above.

The horses whinnied. The impassive drivers plucked at the wick of their whips.

"These waving palps," murmured Sélysette," are oriflammes planted on the roof of the forest..."

In the middle of the stream the ferry was drifting towards them. It floated on the golden waters as the slender silhouettes of the rowers moved about like shadows thrown by a Chinese lantern, while a Vietnamese girl, seaeted in the prow, her fear in the water, wailed a plaintive and out of tune song.

The sun was setting. It was time to go back. Underneath the betel palms, night was falling. And the evening dew was already starting to glisten everywhere in the beginning of the chiller night air, so Sélysette wrapped her mother in her coat, tenderly tucking her in like a mother hen.

"When I was a kid," thought Sélysette out loud, "the trees of our garden seemed so big to me, and the garden so vast. These betel palms, even the entire forest, are so miniscule compared to my memory.."

The horseshoes were soundless in the wet earth. Twighlight's shrinking world inspires open yourself up to others, and Sélysette continued.

"We lived in an old house which looked like a farm building, and we called it the castle, because it had a pointy turret. It was in Périgord. There were flowers all around, and a herd of goats on the hill, with a little shepherd with a red beret. Wisteria crept up the walls, and the peasants would hang paper lanterns and pennants on it when father returned from Africa every year for the harvest. How joyous the house was when he was there! His blue dolman caught the sun's light so beautifully! How we loved the harvest season! When he left, we kept his place at the table ready for him, and set his place for every meal, as if he had been then... and then he didn't come back."

"Was it then that you left France?" asked Fierce quietly.

Mrs. Sylva's voice was just as low in response.

"A year later. I was a widow and my daughter was already old enough - her guardian was named Saigon's governor, and we followed him. It was a good thing, because six months later, my already bad eyes closed up completely. A blind mother, her guardian gone - my poor Sélysette would have died from boredom there..."

Fierce looked at her white hair and the smooth, wrinkleless face. In just a few years, all of the happiness that this woman once had had shattered, swept away like grain before the scythe: she had lost her husband, her house, her homeland, even the beauty of sight. But still she smiled - all of the bitterness hadn't taken away her courage, and out of love for her daughter she had been able to hold back all of her tears, stoically."

"When I was young..."

Sélysette recounted sweet and charming memories from her child. Fierce replayed, deep in his mind, his own childhood, cold and sad. He felt a rush of tenderness for this confident young girl who was so graceful when she opened up herself to him.

The magnolias's smell was even stronger in the evening, as the carriage rolled through them, over the arroyo with its little bridge and the pink bricks which had become grey in the twilight, the garden, where the trumpeting of the elephants came mournfully from their cages, back into the city.

"Until next time, right? Soon?"

"Tomorrow, if that suits you."

He went back on foot, in the shining night. The tepid night air was strangely electrifying.

On Catinat Street, Torral hailed him.

"Cholon this evening?"

Off to Cholon, to drink, party, chase after skirts?"

"No...that's impossible tonight..." he lied suddenly, without even planning to. "Impossible. I walked the whole evening, I'm exhausted and I'm going back onboard.

French Text


  1. Chapter 1
  2. Chapter 2
  3. Chapter 3
  4. Chapter 4
  5. Chapter 5
  6. Chapter 6
  7. Chapter 7
  8. Chapter 8
  9. Chapter 9
  10. Chapter 10
  11. Chapter 11
  12. Chapter 12
  13. Chapter 13
  14. Chapter 14
  15. Chapter 15
  16. Chapter 16
  17. Chapter 17
  18. Chapter 18
  19. Chapter 19
  20. Chapter 20
  21. Chapter 21
  22. Chapter 22
  23. Chapter 23
  24. Chapter 24
  25. Chapter 25
  26. Chapter 26
  27. Chapter 27
  28. Chapter 28
  29. Chapter 29
  30. Chapter 30
  31. Chapter 31
  32. Chapter 32
  33. Chapter 33
  34. Chapter 34
  35. Chapter 35
  36. Chapter 36

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