his life to M. le Cure, who persuaded him to give himself up.
Judged by default, and sentenced to death, they would have
caught him sooner or later, and he would have been in a bad
way. M. Bonnet went out to look for him at the risk of his
life. Nobody knows what he said to Farrabesche; they were
alone for a couple of days; on the third he brought Farra-
besche back to Tulle, and there he gave himself up. M.
Bonnet went to see a clever lawyer, and got him to take up
Farrabesche's case; and Farrabesche came off with ten years
in jail. M. le Cure used to go to see him while he was in
prison; and that fellow yonder, who was a terror to the whole
countryside, grew as meek as any maid, and let them take
him off to prison quietly. When he came out again, he settled
down hereabouts under M. le Cure's direction. People mind
THE COUNTRY PARSON 149
what they say to him; he always goes on Sundays and holi-
days to the services and to mass. He has a seat in the
church along with the rest of us, but he always, keeps by him-
self close to the wall. He takes the sacrament from time
to time, but at the Communion-table he keeps apart too."
"And this man has killed another man !"
"One ?" asked Colorat ; "he has killed a good many, he has !
But he is not a bad sort for all that."
"Is it possible?" cried Veronique, and in her amazement
she let the bridle fall on the horse's neck.
The head forester asked nothing better than to tell the
"You see, madame," he said, "Farrabesche maybe was in
the right at bottom. He was the last of the Farrabesches,
an old family in the Correze ; ay, yes ! His eldest brother,
Captain Farrabesche, was killed just ten years before in
Italy, at Montenotte ; only twenty-two he was, and a captain !
That is what you might call bad luck, now, isn't it ? And he
had a little book-learning too; he could read and write, and
he had made up his mind to be a general. They were sorry
at home when he died, as well they might be, indeed ! I was
in the army with The Other* then; and I heard talk of his
death. Oh ! Captain Farrabesche fell gloriously ; he saved
the army, he did, and the Little Corporal ! I was serving
at that time under General Steingel, a German that is to
say, an Alsatian a fine soldier he was, but shortsighted, and
that was how he came by his end, sometime after Captain
Farrabesche. The youngest boy, that is the one yonder, was
just six years old when he heard them talking about his big
brother's death. The second brother went into the army too,
but he went as a private soldier; and died a sergeant, first
regiment of the Guard, a fine post, at the battle of Austerlitz,
where, you see, madame, they manoeuvred us all as smoothly
as if it had been review day at the Tuileries. ... I was
there myself. Oh! I was lucky; I went through it all, and
never came in for a single wound. . . . Well, then, our
*L'Aulre, viz. Napoleon.
150 THE COUNTRY PARSON
Farrabesche, the youngest, brave though he was, took it into
his head that he would not go for a soldier. And 'tis a fact,
the army did Jiot suit that family. When the sous-prefet
wanted him in 1811, he took to the woods; a 'refractory con-
script,' eh! that's what they used to call them. Thereupon
a gang of chauffeurs got hold of him by fair means or foul,
and he took to warming people's feet at last ! You under-
stand that no one except M. le Cure knows what he did along
with those rascals, asking their pardon! Many a brush he
had with the gendarmes, and the regular troops as well!
First and last he has seen seven skirmishes."
"People say that he killed two soldiers and three gen-
darmes!" put in Champion.
"Who is to know how many ?" Colorat answered. "He did
aot tell them. At last, madame, almost all the others were
eaught ; but he, an active young fellow, knowing the country
as he did, always got away. That gang of chauffeurs used to
hang on the outskirts of Brives and Tulle, and they would
often come over here to lie low, because Farrabesche knew
places where they could hide easily. After 1814 nobody trou-
bled about him any more, the conscription was abolished;
but he had to spend the year 1815 in the woods. As he could
not sit down with his arms folded and live, he helped once
more to stop a coach down below yonder in the ravine; but
in the end he took M. le Cure's advice, and gave himself up.
It was not easy to find witnesses ; nobody dared give evidence
against him. Then M. le Cure and his lawyer worked so hard
for him, that they let him off with ten years. He was lucky
after being a chauffeur, for a chauffeur he was."
"But what is a chauffeur?"
"If you like, madame, I will just tell you the sort of thing
they did, by all that I can make out from one and another,
for you will understand that I was never a chauffeur myself.
It was not nice, but necessity knows no law. It was like this :
if they suspected some farmer or landowner of having money
in his possession, seven or eight of them would drop in in
the middle of the night, and they would light a fire aixJ have
THE COUNTRY PARSON 151
supper there and then, when supper was over, if the master
of the house would not give them as much money as they
asked, they would tie his feet up to the pot-hook at the back
of the fire, and would not let him go until they had what
they asked for. That was all. They came in masks. With
so many expeditions, there were a few mishaps. Lord ! yes ;
there are obstinate folk and stingy people everywhere. There
was a farmer once, old Cochegrue, a regular skinflint he was,
he let them burn his feet ; and, well, the man died of it. There
was M. David's wife too, not far from Brives ; she died after-
wards of the fright they gave her, simply seeing them tie her
husband's feet. 'Just give them what you have !' she said to
him as she wept. He would not, and she showed them the
hiding-place. For five years the chauffeurs were the terror of
the countryside; but get this well into your pate I beg
pardon, madame ! that more than one of them belonged to
good families, and that sort of people are not the ones to let
themselves be nabbed."
Mme. Graslin listened and made no reply. There was
a moment's pause; then young Champion, eager to interest
his mistress in his turn, was anxious to tell what he knew
"Madame ought to hear the whole truth of the matter.
Farrabesche has not his match on horseback or afoot. He
will fell an ox with a blow of his fist ! He can carry seven
hundred-weight, that he can! and there is not a better shot
anywhere. When I was a little chap they used to tell me tales
about Farrabesche. One day he and three of his comrades
were surprised ; they fought till one was killed and two were
wounded ; well and good, Farrabesche saw that he was caught ;*
bah ! he jumps on a gendarme's horse behind the man, claps
spurs to the animal, which bolts off at a furious gallop and is
out of sight, he gripping that gendarme round the waist all
the time; he hugged the man so tight that after a while he
managed to fling him off and ride single in the saddle, so
he escaped and came by a horse. And he had the impudence
to sell it directly afterwards ten leagues on the other side
152 THE COUNTRY PARSON
of Limoges. He lay in hiding for three months after that
exploit, and no one could find him. They offered a reward of
a hundred louis to any one who would betray him."
"Another time," added Colorat, "as to those hundred louis
put on his head by the prefect at Tulle, Farrabesche put a
cousin of his in the way of earning it Giriex it was, over at
Vizay. His cousin denounced him, and seemed as if he
meant to give him up. Oh! he actually gave him up;
and very glad the gendarmes were to take him to Tulle.
But he did not go far; they had to put him in the
prison at Lubersac, and he got away the very first night,
by way of a hole made by one of the gang, one Gabil-
leau, a deserter from the 17th, executed at Tulle, who was
moved away the night before he expected to escape. A pretty
character Farrabesche gained by these adventures. The troop
had trusty friends, you know. And, besides, people liked the
chauffeurs. Lord, they were quite different then from what
they are nowadays, jolly fellows every one of them, that
spent their money like princes. Just imagine it, madame ; he
finds the gendarmes on his track one evening, does he ? Well,
he slipped through their fingers that time by lying twenty-
four hours in a pond in a farmyard, drawing his breath
through a hole in the straw at the edge of a dung heap. What
did a little discomfort like that matter to him when he had
spent whole nights up among the little branches at the very
top of a tree where a sparrow could hardly hold, watching
the soldiers looking for him, passing and repassing below.
Farrabesche was one of the five or six chauffeurs whom they
never could catch; for as he was a fellow-countryman, and
joined the gang perforce (for, after all, he only took to the
woods to escape the conscription), all the women took his
part, and that counts for much."
"So Farrabesche has really killed several men," Mme.
Graslin said again.
"Certainly," Colorat replied ; "they even say that it was he
who murdered the traveler in the coach in 1812; but the
courier and postilion, the only witnesses who could have iden-
tified him, were dead when he came up for trial."
THE COUNTRY PARSON 153
"And the robbery?" asked Mme. Graslin.
"Oh! They took all there was; but the five-and-twenty
thousand francs which they found belonged to the Govern-
For another league Mme. Graslin rode on in silence. The
sun had set, and in the moonlight the gray plain looked like
the open sea. Once or twice Champion and Colorat looked at
Mme. Graslin, for her silence made them uneasy, and both
were greatly disturbed to see that her eyes were red with
much weeping and full of tears, which fell drop by drop
and glittered on her cheeks.
"Oh ! don't be sorry for him, madame," said' Colorat. "The
fellow led a jolly life, and has had pretty sweethearts. And
if the police keep an eye on him now, he is protected by M. le
Cure's esteem and friendship; for he repented, and in the
convict's prison he behaved in the most exemplary way.
Everybody knows that he is as good as the best among us;
only he is so proud, he has no mind to lay himself open to any
slight, but he lives peaceably and does good after his fashion.
Over the other side of the Living Eock he has ten acres or
so of young saplings of his own planting; and when he sees
a place for a tree in the forest, he will stick one of them in.
Then he lops off the dead branches, and collects the wood, and
does it up in faggots ready for poor people. And the poor
people, knowing that they can have firewood all ready for
the asking, go to him instead of helping themselves and dam-
aging your woods. So if he still 'warms people's feet/ as you
may say, it does them good now. Farrabesche is fond of
your forest ; he looks after it as if it were his own."
"And yet he lives ! . . . quite alone." Mme. Graslin
hastily added the last two words.
"Asking your pardon, madame, no. He is bringing up a
little lad ; going fifteen now he is," said Maurice Champion.
"Faith, yes, that he is," Colorat remarked, "for La Curieux
had that child a good while before Farrabesche gave himself
"Is it his son ?" asked Mme. Graslin.
154 THE COUNTRY PARSON
"Well, every one thinks so."
"And why did he not marry the girl ?"
"Why? Because they would have caught him! And, be-
sides, when La Curieux knew that he was condemned, she
left the neighborhood, poor thing."
"Was she pretty?"
"Oh, my mother says that she was very much like dear
me! another girl who left the place too very much like
"Was he loved ?" asked Mme. Graslin.
"Bah ! yes, because he was a chauffeur!" said Colorat. "The
women always fall in love with anything out of the way. But
for all that, nothing astonished people hereabouts so much as
this love affair. Catherine Curieux was a good girl who lived
like a virgin saint ; she was looked on as a paragon of virtue
in her neighborhood over at Vizay, a large village in the
Correze, on the boundary of two departments. Her father
and mother were tenants of M. Brezac's. Catherine Curieux
was quite seventeen years old at the time of Farrabesche's
sentence. The Farrabesches were an old family out of the
same district, but they settled on the Montegnac lands; they
had the largest farm in the village. Farrabesche's father and
mother are dead now, and La Curieux's three sisters are mar-
ried ; one lives at Aubusson, one at Limoges, and one at Saint-
"Do you think that Farrabesche knows where Catherine
is?" asked Mme. Graslin.
"If he knew, he would break his bounds. Oh ! he would go
to her. ... As soon as he came back he asked her
father and mother (through M. Bonnet) for the child. La
Curieux's father and mother were taking care of the child;
M. Bonnet persuaded them to give him up to Farrabesche."
"Does nobody know what became of her?"
"Bah!" said Colorat. "The lass thought herself ruined,
she was afraid to stop in the place ! She went to Paris. What
does she do there? That is the rub. As for looking for her
in Paris, you might as well try to find a marble among the
flints there in the plain."
THE COUNTRY PARSON 155
Colorat pointed to the plain of Montegnac as he spoke.
By this time Mme. Graslin was only a few paces from the
great gateway of the chateau. Mme. Sauviat, in anxiety,
was waiting there for her with Aline and the servants; they
did not know what to think of so long an absence.
"Well," said Mme. Sauviat, as she helped her daughter to
dismount, "you must be horribly tired."
"No, dear mother," Mme. Graslin answered, in an unsteady
voice, and Mme. Sauviat, looking at her daughter, saw that
she had been weeping for a long time.
Mme. Graslin went into the house with Aline, her confi-
dential servant, and shut herself into her room. She would
not see her mother; and when Mme. Sauviat tried to enter,
Aline met the old Auvergnate with "Madame is asleep."
The next morning Veronique set out on horseback, with
Maurice as her sole guide. She took the way by which they
had returned the evening before, so as to reach the Living
Rock as quickly as might be. As they climbed up the ravine
which separates the last ridge in the forest from the actual
summit of the mountain (for the Living Eock, seen from
the plain, seems to stand alone), Veronique bade Maurice
show her the way to Farrabesche's cabin and wait with the
horses until she came back. She meant to go alone. Maurice
went with her as far as a pathway which turned off towards
the opposite side of the Living Eock, furthest from the plain,
and pointed out the thatched roof of a cottage half hidden
on the mountain side; below it lay the nursery-ground of
which Colorat had spoken.
It was almost noon. A thin streak of smoke rising from
the cottage chimney guided Veronique, who soon reached
the place, but would not show herself at first. At the sight of
the little dwelling, and the garden about it, with its fence
of dead thorns, she stood for a few moments lost in thoughts
known to her alone. Several acres of grass land, enclosed
by a quickset hedge, wound away beyond the garden ; the low
spreading branches of apple and pear and plum trees were
156 THE COUNTRY PARSON
visible here and there in the field. Above the house, on the
sandier soil of the high mountain slopes, there rose a splendid
grove of tall chestnut trees, their topmost leaves turned yellow
Mme. Graslin pushed open the crazy wicket wnich did
duty as a gate, and saw before her the shed, the little yard,
and all the picturesque and living details of the dwellings
of the poor. Something surely of the grace of the open fields
hovers about them. Who is there that is not moved by the
revelation of lowly, almost vegetative lives the clothes dry-
ing on the hedge, the rope of onions hanging from the roof,
the iron cooking pots set out in the sun, the wooden bench
hidden among the honeysuckle leaves, the houseleeks that
grow on the ridges of almost every thatched hovel in France ?
Veronique found it impossible to appear unannounced in
her keeper's cottage, for two fine hunting-dogs began to bark
as soon as they heard the rustle of her riding-habit on the
dead leaves ; she gathered up her skirts on her arm, and went
towards the house. Farrabesche and the boy were sitting on
a wooden bench outside. Both rose to their feet and un-
covered respectfully, but without a trace of servility.
"I have been told that you are seeing after my interests,"
said Veronique, with her eyes fixed on the lad; "so I deter-
mined to see your cottage and nursery of saplings for myself,
and to ask you about some improvements."
"I am at your service, madame," replied Farrabesche.
Veronique was admiring the lad. It was a charming face ;
somewhat sunburned and brown, but in shape a faultless
oval; the outlines of the forehead were delicately fine, the
orange-colored eyes exceedingly bright and alert; the long
dark hair, parted on the forehead, fell upon either side of the
brow. Taller than most boys of his age, he was very nearly five
feet high. His trousers were of the same coarse brown linen
as his shirt; he wore a threadbare waistcoat of rough blue
cloth with horn buttons, a short jacket of the material face-
tiously described as "Maurienne velvet," in which Savoyards
are wont to dress, and a pair of iron-bound shoes on his other-
THE COUNTRY PARSON 15?
wise bare feet to complete the costume. His father was
dressed in the same fashion; but instead of the little lad's
brown woolen cap, Farrabesche wore the wide-brimmed
peasant's hat. In spite of its quick intelligence, the child's
face wore the look of gravity (evidently unforced) peculiar
to young creatures brought up in solitude; he must have put
himself in harmony with the silence and the life of the forest.
Indeed, in both Farrabesche and his son the physical side of
their natures seemed to be the most highly developed; they
possessed the peculiar faculties of the savage the keen sight,
the alertness, the complete mastery of the body as an instru-
ment, the quick hearing, the signs of activity and intelligent
skill. No sooner did the boy's eyes turn to his father than
Mme. Graslin divined that here was the limitless affection
in which the prompting of natural instinct and deliberate
thought were confirmed by the most effectual happiness.
"Is this the child of whom I have heard ?" asked Veronique,
indicating the lad.
Veronique signed to Farrabesche to come a few paces away.
"But have you taken no steps towards finding his mother?"
"Madame does not know, of course, that I am not allowed
to go beyond the bounds of the commune where I am liv-
ing ' :
"And have you never heard of her ?"
"When my time was out," he said, "the commissary paid
over to me the sum of a thousand francs, which had been sent
me, a little at a time, every quarter ; the rules would not allow
me to have it until I came out. I thought that no one but
Catherine would have thought of me, as it was not M. Bonnet
who srr.it it; so I am keeping the money for Benjamin."
"A^ how about Catherine's relations?"
ar fc v f thought no more about her after she went away.
Besic'r , they did their part by looking after the child."
Vewnique turned to go towards the house.
"Very well, Farrabesche/' she said; "I will have inquiry
158 THE COUNTRY PARSON
made, so as to make sure that Catherine is still living, and
where she is, and what kind of life she is leading "
"Madame, whatever she may be, I shall look upon it as good
fortune to have her for my ^ife," the man cried in a softened
tone. "It is for her to show reluctance, not for me. Our
marriage will legitimatize the poor hoy, who has no suspicion
yet of how he stands."
The look in the father's eyes told the tale of the life these
two outcasts led in their voluntary exile ; they were all in all
to each other, like two fellow-countrymen in the midst of
"So you love Catherine ?" asked Veronique.
"It is not so much that I love her, madame," he answered,
"as that, placed as I am, she is the one woman in the world
Mme. Graslin turned swiftly, and went as far as the
chestnut-trees, as if some pang had shot through her. The
keeper thought that this was some whim of hers, and did
not venture to follow. For nearly a quarter of an hour she
sat, apparently engaged in looking out over the landscape.
She could see all that part of the forest which lay along the
side of the valley, with the torrent in the bottom ; it was dry
now, and full of boulders, a sort of huge ditch shut in be-
tween the forest-covered mountains above Montegnac and
another parallel range, these last hills beings steep though
low, and so bare that there was scarcely so much as a starveling
tree here and there to crown the slopes, where a few rather
melancholy-looking birches, juniper bushes, and briars were
trying to grow. This second range belonged to a neighboring
estate, and lay in the department of the Correze; indeed,
the cross-road which meanders along the winding valley is
the boundary line of the arrondissement of Montegnac, and
also of the two estates. The opposite side of the valley beyond
the torrent was quite unsheltered and barren enough. i was
a sort of long wall with a slope of fine woodland beh/id it.
and a complete contrast in its bleakness to the side of the
mountain on which Farrabesche's cottage stood. Gnarled
THE COUNTRY PARSON 159
and twisted forms on the one side, and on the other shapely
growths and delicate curving lines ; on the one side the dreary,
unchanging silence of a sloping desert, held in place by blocks
of stone and bare, denuded rocks, and on the other, the con-
trasts of green among the trees. Many of them were leafless
now, but the fine variegated tree trunks stood up straight
and tall on each ledge, and the branches waved as the wind
stirred through them. A few of them, the oaks,, elms, beeches,
and chestnuts which held out longer against the autumn than
the rest, still retained their leaves golden, or bronze, or
In the direction of Montegnac the valley opens out so
widely that the two sides describe a vast horseshoe. Vero-
nique, with her back against a chestnut-tree, could see glen
after glen arranged after the stages of an amphitheatre, the
topmost crests of the trees rising one above the other in rows
like the heads of spectators. On the other side of the ridge
lay her own park, in which, at a later time, this beautiful hill-
side was included. Near Farrabesche's cottage the valley
grew narrower and narrower, till it closed in as a gully scarce
a hundred feet across.
The beauty of the view over which Mme. Graslin's eyes
wandered, heedlessly at first, soon recalled her to herself.
She went back to the cottage, where the father and son were
standing in silence, making no attempt to explain the strange
departure of their mistress. Veronique looked at the house.
It was more solidly built than the thatched roof had led her
to suppose ; doubtless it had been left to go to ruin at the time
when the Navarreins ceased to trouble themselves about the
estate. No sport, no gamekeepers. But though no one had
lived in it for a century, the walls held good in spite of the
ivy and climbing plants which clung about them on every side.
Farrabesche himself had thatched the roof when he received
permission to live there; he had laid the stone flags on the
floor, -nd brought in such furniture as there was.
V6- mique went inside the cottage. Two beds, such as the
peasants use, met her eyes; there was a large cupboard of
160 THE COUNTRY PARSON
walnut wood, a hutch for bread, a dresser, a table, three
chairs, a few brown earthen platters on the shelves of the
dresser; in fact, all the necessary household gear. A couple
of guns and a game-bag hung above the mantelshelf. It went
to Veronique's heart to see how many things the father had
made for the little one ; there was a toy man-of-war, a fishing
smack, and a carved wooden cup, a chest wonderfully orna-
mented, a little box decorated with mosaic work in straw, a
beautifully-wrought crucifix and rosary. The rosary was made
of plum-stones; on each a head had been carved with won-
derful skill Jesus Christ, the Apostles, the Madonna, St.
John the Baptist, St. Anne, the two Magdalens.
"I did it to amuse the child during the long winter
evenings," he said, with something of apology in his tone.