Text extracted from opening pages of book: BLUE BOY BY JEAN GIONO
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY KATHERINE A. CLARKE NEW YORK THE
VIKING PRESS MCMXLVI BLUE BOY CHAPTER I Mof my age here remember
the time when he road to Sainte-Tulle was bordered by a erried row
of poplars. It is a Lombard cus om to plant poplars along the
wayside. This road came, with its procession of trees, from the
very heart of Piedmont. It straddled Mont Genevre, it flowed along
the Alps, it caine all the way with its burden of long creaking
carts and its knots of curly-haired countrymen who strode along
with their songs and their hussar pantaloons flutter ing in the
breeze. It came this far but no farther. It came with all its
trees, its two-wheeled carts, and its Pied monteses, as far as the
little hill called Toutes-Aures. Here, it looked back. From this
point it saw in the hazy distance the misty peak of the Vaucluse,
hot and muddy, steaming like cabbage soup. Here it was assailed by
the odors of coarse vegetables, fertile land, and the plain. From
here, on fine days, could be seen the still pallor of the
whitewashed farmhouses and the slow kneeling of the fat peasants in
the rows of vegetables. On windy days, the heavy odors of dung
heaps surged in waves along with the broken, bloody 4 Blue Boy
bodies of storms from the Rhone. At this point the poplars stopped.
The carts rolled noisily into the jaws of the way side inns with
their loads of corn flour and black wine. The carters said, Porca
wwdona They sneezed like mules that have snuffed up pipe smoke, and
they stayed on this side of the hill with the poplars and the
carts. The chief inn was called Au Territoire de Piemont. In those
days, our country was madeup of meadows and fair orchards that used
to unfold in a magnificent spring time as soon as the warm weather
came up the Durance Valley. They knew how to recognize the approach
of the long days. By what means, no one knows. By some bird cry or
by that burst of green flame that lights up the hills on April
evenings. They would simply begin to flutter while the frost was
still on the grass, and, one fine morning, just when the bluish
heat weighed upon the rocky bed of the Durance, the gaily flowered
orchards would begin to sing in the warm breeze. That we have all
seen from the time we were mere urchins in our black school smocks.
I remember my father's workroom. I can never pass by a shoemaker's
shop without thinking that my father still exists, somewhere beyond
this world, sitting at a spirit table with his blue apron, his
shoemaker's knife, his wax-ends, his awls, making shoes of angel
leather for some thousand legged god. I was able to recognize
strange steps on the stairs. I could hear my mother saying below,
It is on the third floor. Go up, you will see the light. Blue Boy 5
And the voice would reply, Grazia, signora And then the sound of
the feet. They stumbled on that soapstone step near the top of the
first flight. The loose boards in the landing rattled be neath the
heavy boots. Their hands pressed against the two walls in the
darkness. Here comes one of them, said my father. Putamr That is a
Romagnol, said my father. And the man would enter. I remember that
my father always gave them the chair near the window, then he would
lift his spectacles. He would begin to speak in Italian to the man
who sat erect, hands on thighs, all perfumed with wine and new
corduroy. Sometimes ittook a long time. At others, the smile came
almost at once. My father spoke without gestures, or with very slow
ones, because he held a shoe in one hand and the awl in the other.
He would talk until he saw the smile. It was useless for the other
to haul out papers, to tap on his papers with the back of his hand.
Porca di Dior Until the smile appeared my father talked on, and
some times the other would say in a hushed tone, Che bellezza! Then
the man would smile. Moreover, they did not come to my father at
once. I do not know by what miracle they came. It must have bee
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