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time, was certain of the fact, and one day she said to
Jasmin in an undertone:

" It's very funny, but madame's boy is melting away,
so that you can see it ! He weighs five ounces less to-day
than he did the day he was born ! "

Jasmin gave a leap when he heard that his master's
child was melting away instead of increasing in size, and
he said to Turlurette:

" If this goes on, before long he won't weigh anything
at all. You must tell madame that the little fellow is
falling off."

" Oh, yes ! so that madame may torment herself, and
so that she won't be able to feed her son at all. No in-
deed, I will take pains not to tell her."

" But, mademoiselle, it's for the child's good ! "

" But I don't choose to make madame feel badly."

Jasmin made up his mind like a devoted servant: he
went to his master. Monsieur de Grandvilain was lying


on his couch, enveloped in his morning gown; his head
was covered with a jaunty green velvet cap, which he
was careful to place over the ear which he no longer had.
For some time the old marquis had had the habit of
moving his jaws, as one does when one is sucking or
eating something, and that constant movement gave his
face the appearance of a nut-cracker. Those persons who
were not aware of this trick of the marquis, waited, be-
fore speaking to him, for him to finish swallowing what
he was chewing; but they waited in vain, for the jaws
continued to make the same movement.

Since the occasion of the fireworks, Monsieur de
Grandvilain had treated his valet with less affability.
However, Jasmin's face bore so many scars that his
master could hardly bear him ill-will for an accident of
which he had been the second victim.

" What do you want of me, Jasmin ? " said Monsieur
de Grandvilain, when he saw that his valet stood before
him with an embarrassed air.

" Monsieur, I hope that you will excuse me for what
I am going to say, but it is my attachment for you and
our young marquis that has decided me to speak."

" I am aware of your attachment, Jasmin, although
the proofs of it which you have given me have sometimes
had unfortunate results."

As he spoke, Monsieur de Grandvilain scratched the
place where his ear should have been.

" Well, what have you to tell me ? "

Jasmin glanced about him, walked closer to his master,
and said in a low voice and with a mysterious air:

" Let me tell you, monsieur, that your son is melt-
ing "

The old man fell back on his couch and gazed anx-
iously at his servant, exclaiming:


" Melting ! my son ! Great heaven ! has he fallen into
the stove?"

" When I say melting, my dear master, I mean simply
falling away, that he has lost five ounces, neither more
nor less, since the day he was born."

" The devil take you, Jasmin, you gave me a horrible
fright ! I wonder if you will never be any less stupid ! "

" It was my attachment for you, monsieur, that made
me think that I ought to tell you. Turlurette has weighed
our little Cherubin, and she is sure of what she says. She
doesn't dare to tell madame, but I thought it was better
to tell you; for if the child goes on like this, in a few
months he won't weigh anything at all."

Monsieur de Grandvilain sadly shook his head.

" In truth," he said, " my son is not making any
progress. He is taking on a yellowish color that sur-
prises me, for both his mother and I are very white.
Ah! my poor Jasmin, I am beginning to think that we
should have children when we are young, because then
they inherit our strength."

" Nonsense, monsieur ! You are strong enough ! You
are a perfect horse when you choose ! Our Cherubin
was magnificent when he was born, as you must remem-
ber. If he is doing badly now, it's only because he doesn't
eat enough. Madame fondles him and pets him that's
all very well; but perhaps the little rascal would prefer
some wine and a cutlet."

" A cutlet ! Are you mad, Jasmin ? Whoever heard
of giving cutlets to children three months old ? "

" Perhaps it would be better for them than milk, no
one knows. If I was a nurse, I'd try the experiment."

" In truth, Jasmin, you recall to my mind the fact
that the grandfather of our good Henri IV gave his
son wine to drink a few moments after he was born;


and it did the child no harm; far from it, for Henri IV
was a regular devil in every way. Judging from that,
I believe that my son, who is past three months, might
safely swallow a drop of generous wine."

" Surely, monsieur, wine can never cfo any harm, and
you have such good wine! Our little Cherubin, instead
of turning yellow, will become a very devil like the great
king ; and if with that you would venture to let him suck
a cutlet "

" The wine will be enough, with a little beef juice
perhaps. If only madame la marquise will consent to let
the child change his food ! "

" Why, look you, monsieur, the little fellow is our son,
after all! If madame doesn't give him enough to eat,
we have the right to do as we please. Deuce take it ! A
man doesn't have a child every day, and if you should
have to try it over again, I think that "

" Yes, Jasmin, yes, I will be firm. As my heir's wel-
fare is at stake, I will show my strength of character."

And monsieur le marquis, rising from his couch, be-
took himself to his wife's apartment, leaning on the arm
of Jasmin, who repeated constantly on the way:

" Give him wine to drink, monsieur, give him some
good strong soups to eat, and I will bet that within a
month he will have recovered his five ounces ! "

Madame de Grandvilain had not dared to confess to
her husband that she had no milk to give their son ; she
had bought nursing bottles, and when the marquis was
not there, the child was given the bottle; but as soon as
his father arrived, she played nurse again, and little
Cherubin was given a sterile bosom, which supplied him
with no nourishment.

When Monsieur de Grandvilain unexpectedly entered
madame's chamber, as she was not looking for her


husband at that moment, she did not have time to put the
bottle out of the way, and Cherubin was still attached
to it.

" What's this, my dear love ? " said monsieur le mar-
quis, scrutinizing what his son was sucking.

" My dear," said madame, sorely confused, " it's a

" A supplement ! The deuce, my dear love, you use
a supplement, and without letting me know ? "

" My dear, there are times when my milk doesn't flow
freely, and we must not let this dear little fellow suffer
on that account."

" Certainly not, madame, but if you had only confessed
to me sooner that you use a supplement, I, for my part,
should not have hesitated to tell you that I wished to
change our son's diet. He is not making progress, mar-
chioness, that -is evident. I believe that milk is not what
he needs. I am less surprised since I find that it is not
yours. In short, I propose to try another method; I
propose to give my son wine to drink."

" Wine, my dear ! Can you think of such a thing !
A child of three months ! "

" Who was magnificent when he came into the world,
and who is visibly pining away with your bottle. I will
give him claret, that is a mild and generous wine. If
that works well, later we will try burgundy."

" But, monsieur, on the contrary, the very lightest
things, ass's milk, is what Cherubin needs ! "

" Ass's milk for my son ! Fie, madame ! I will not
listen to such a thing. Can it be that you would like to
make an ass of him? He shall drink wine."

" He shall drink milk."

For the first time the husband and wife quarrelled,
and neither of them would give way.


Monsieur de Grandvilain took his son in his arms,
carried him to his room, ordered Jasmin to bring a bot-
tle of old claret, and gave some spoonfuls of it to his heir.

The child swallowed the wine without making too
wry a face; in a few moments his little cheeks flushed,
and the old valet, who was assisting his master to pour
wine into little Cherubin, exclaimed:

" Look, monsieur le marquis, look ! already our son's
color is coming back! He is better already, and re-
covering his strength. Oh! what an excellent idea it
was to give him wine! Let us go on, master. He turns
his eyes toward us; I think that he wants some more."

Monsieur de Grandvilain thought that it was better
to be prudent the first time and not to make the dose too
large ; so he returned to his wife and gave her the child,
saying :

" Madame, Cherubin is better already ; his color has
come back and his eyes shine like diamonds. I shall
continue what I have begun to-day, and you will see
that our heir will be the better for it."

Madame made no reply, but as soon as her husband
had left the room, she called Turlurette and said to her :

" Dear Turlurette, just see what a state they have put
this poor little fellow in! He smells frightfully of wine,
and I believe that he is tipsy ! "

" Why, yes, he really is, madame," cried the stout girl,
after smelling the child. " That old idiot of a Jasmin is
responsible for all this ; he's a sot himself, and he would
like to make everybody drink, even a nursing child. If
you take my advice, madame, you will give the child
some syrup of ipecac. That will make him throw up the
wine; it will purge him."

" No, Turlurette, no ! I am afraid of doing my son
an injury, and of angering monsieur le marquis. But I


am going to give the dear little fellow some ass's milk,
and that will correct the ill effects of the wine."

The ass's milk was offered to the child in the bottle.
Little Cherubin drank it without objection, for he had an
excellent disposition; he accepted whatever was offered
him, so that the important thing was to offer him what
would be good for him.

This system of nourishment was continued for several
days. The marquis gave his son wine to drink and ma-
dame gave him ass's milk. The child was very red when
he left his father's hands, but he became very pale again
with his mother. They soon discovered that the dear boy
was out of order, and stout Turlurette added the syringe
to all the other remedies; and Jasmin, determined at all
risks to fatten the little Grandvilain, gave him a piece of
pie crust, or a slice of sausage, as soon as he was left
alone with him.

Before little Cherubin had been on this diet of ass's
milk, pie crust and syringes a month, instead of growing
fat, he was in a shocking condition. The marchioness
wept, and Monsieur de Grandvilain decided to send for
a doctor. After examining the child and learning all
that they had been doing to nourish him, the doctor ex-
claimed in a very severe tone:

" Allow me to inform you that, if you go on like this,
in a week you will not have any child."

The marchioness sobbed, the marquis turned green, and
they both cried in one breath :

" What must we do, doctor, to restore our child's

" What must you do ? Why give him a nurse, a good
nurse, and send him into the country with her, and leave
him there a long while, a very long while; that's what
you must do, and at once, this very day; you have no


time to waste if you want to preserve the life of this

The tone in which the doctor spoke admitted no reply ;
luckily their love for the child was above all self-esteem,
so they were fain to agree that they had done wrong, and
to obey in all haste.

The marquis sent all his people in search of a nurse.
The marchioness herself went about among her acquaint-
ances, asking for information and advice; but the time
passed, and those who were well recommended could not
be obtained at once. As evening approached, they had
not succeeded in finding a nurse ; the marchioness and
her husband embraced their child and had no idea what
to give him, as they dared not continue to feed him as
they had been doing.

Suddenly Jasmin appeared with a fresh, buxom, red-
cheeked peasant woman, exclaiming:

" I have found what we want, I think ; if she doesn't
bring our little one back to life, faith, I will have noth-
ing more to do with it."

The nurse whom Jasmin had brought had such an
attractive face and seemed to enjoy such excellent health
that they were prepossessed in her favor. Madame de
Grand vilain uttered a joyful cry and handed her child
to the peasant woman, who presented her bosom to him ;
he took it greedily, like one who had found what he

The marquis tapped Jasmin on the shoulder, saying:

" You are an invaluable fellow ! How did you go to
work to discover this excellent nurse ? "

" How did I go to work, monsieur? Why, I just went
to the office, on Rue Sainte-Apolline, and asked for a
nurse; I saw nurses of all colors, and I chose this one.
That's all the difficulty there was about it."


What Jasmin had done was the simplest thing to do,
but ordinarily the simplest thing is what nobody thinks
of doing.

Little Cherubin's nurse was from Gagny, and as the
doctor's orders were definite, she returned to her village
the next morning, carrying with her a superb layette,
money, gifts, strict orders, and her little nursling.


Gagny is a pretty village near Villemonble, of which
it is a sort of continuation, and is a little nearer Paris
than Montfermeil. When I say that it is a pretty village,
I do not mean by that that the streets are very straight
and well paved, and that all the houses have a uniform,
comfortable, or even elegant aspect; in that case, it
would resemble a small provincial town, and would not
be the country with its picturesqueness and its freedom
from constraint.

What I like in a village is the mixture of architectural
styles, the very irregularity of the buildings, which is
such a pleasant change from the monotony of the streets
of a capital. What I like to see in a village is the farm-
house and all its outbuildings, the pond in which ducks
are splashing, the dung-heap with the hens pecking
about it; and then the cottage of the well-to-do peasant,
who has had his shutters painted green, and who allows
the vines to climb all about the windows; the thatched
roof of a laborer not far from the fine house of a wealthy


bourgeois ; the charming villa of one of our Parisian
celebrities ; the humble dwelling of the market gardener ;
the schoolhouse, the church and its belfry; and in the
midst of all these, tall trees, paths bordered by hedges
of elderberry or wild fruit; hens and roosters strutting
fearlessly before the house; ruddy-cheeked, merry,
healthy children playing in the middle of the streets or
squares, with nothing to fear from carriages and omni-
buses ; and even the odor of the cow barn, when I pass
by a dairyman's place ; because all these remind you that
you are really in the country; and when you truly love
the country, you have a sense of well-being, a feeling of
happiness, the effects of which you at once realize without
any need to try to explain them effects which you owe
to the pure air which you breathe, to the rustic scenes
which rest your eyes, and to the pleasant freedom which
you enjoy!

Gagny offers you all these things. Situated as it is
near Raincy, the forest of Bondy, and the lovely woods
of Montfermeil, and only a short distance from the
Marne, whose banks are delightful, especially near
Nogent and Gournay, in whichever direction you turn
your steps when you leave the village, you find charming
walks and beautiful views. The neighborhood is em-
bellished by some lovely estates : Maison Rouge, Maison
Blanche, and the pretty little chateau of L'Horloge,
flanked by towers and battlements, which represents in
miniature but in a highly flattered miniature the abodes
of the ancient feudal lords. Such is the village of Gagny,
which sees every day one more beautiful and comfortable
house built in its neighborhood, where, during the sum-
mer, charming women from Paris, artists, scholars or
tradesmen, come to seek repose from the constant activity
of the capital.


I observe that I have been describing Gagny as it is
to-day, whereas it was in the year 1819 that little Cheru-
bin, son of the Marquis de Grandvilain, was taken there.
But after all, the aspect of the village has not changed,
except for some fine houses which did not then exist, but
which are universally admired to-day.

Let us make the acquaintance first of all of the vil-
lagers to whose house our hero was taken.

You know that the nurse who had carried Cherubin
away was a buxom peasant with a fresh round face, and
a solid figure, whose corsets indicated a sufficient supply
of food for four marquises and as many plebeians ; but
what you do not know is that her name was Nicole Fri-
mousset, that she was twenty-eight years old, and had
three little boys, and a husband who drove her to despair,
although he was a model of obedience and submission to
her will.

Jacquinot Frimousset was of the same age as his wife ;
he was a stout, well-built fellow, with broad shoulders
and a sturdy, shapely leg; his round red face, his heavy
eyebrows, his bright black eyes, his white, even teeth
would have done credit to a gentleman from the city.
Frimousset was a handsome youth, and seemed to give
promise of becoming a husband capable of fulfilling all
the duties which marriage imposes. Peasant women are
not insensible to physical advantages; indeed it is said
that there are ladies very great ladies who attach
much value to such bagatelles.

Nicole, who had some property, and a dowry of goodly
proportion, could not lack aspirants; she selected Jac-
quinot Frimousset, and all the women in the village ex-
claimed that Nicole was not squeamish ; which meant
doubtless that they too would have been glad to marry
Frimousset. But there is an old proverb which declares


that appearances are deceitful. There are many people
who do not choose to believe in proverbs ! Those people
make a great mistake. Erasmus said :

" Of all forms of knowledge, there is none older than
that of proverbs ; they were like so many symbols which
formed the philosophical code of the early ages; they
are the compendium of human verities."

Aristotle agreed with Erasmus; he thought that
proverbs were the remains of the old philosophy de-
stroyed by the wearing effect of time; and that, these
sentences having been preserved by reason of their con-
ciseness, far from disdaining them, we should reflect
upon them with care, and search after their meaning.

Chrysippus and Cleanthes wrote at great length in
favor of proverbs. Theophrastus composed a whole
volume upon that subject. Among the famous men who
have discussed it are Aristides and Clearchus, disciples
of Aristotle; and Pythagoras wrote symbols which
Erasmus ranks with proverbs; and Plutarch, in his
Apothegms, collected the wise remarks of the Greeks.

We might proceed to cite all the authors of modern
times who have written in favor of proverbs, but that
would carry us too far, and we fancy that you will
prefer to return to Cherubin's nurse.

Nicole had never heard of Erasmus, or of Aristotle;
we have met people in the city who have no knowledge
concerning those philosophers, and are none the worse
off for that. As a general rule, we should not carry the
study of antiquity too far ; what we know about the past
often prevents us from being well informed concerning
what is going on to-day.

Nicole soon perceived that when she married Jac-
quinot she did not feather her nest very well. The hand-
some peasant was lazy, careless; in short, a do-nothing


in every sense of the term. Three days after her mar-
riage, Nicole sighed when she was congratulated upon
her choice.

But Frimousset had that rustic cunning which knows
how to disguise its inclinations, its faults, beneath an
air of good-humor and frankness which deceives many
people. His wife was lively, active, hard-working; it
required very little time for him to learn her character.
Far from thwarting her in anything, Frimousset seemed
to be the most docile, the most compliant husband in the
village; but he carried his servility to a point which
finally irritated Nicole, and that was the very thing he
counted upon.

For instance, in the morning, while his wife was at-
tending to the housework, Jacquinot, after eating a hearty
breakfast, would say to her:

" What do you want me to do now, Nicole ? "

And Nicole would reply quickly:

" It seems to me that there's work enough to do !
There's our field to plow, and the stones and stumps to
be taken out of the piece by the road, and the garden
to be planted. Ain't that work enough?"

" Yes, yes ! " Frimousset would reply, shaking his
head ; " I know well enough that it ain't work that's
lacking; but where shall I begin in the field, or the
pasture, or the garden? I am waiting for you to tell
me ; you know very well that I want to do just what you
want me to."

" My word ! what nonsense ! Don't you know enough
to know what there's most hurry about? "

" Why no ! Don't I tell you that I want you to give me
orders as to what I shall do; I want to do my best to
please you, my little wife."

" Do whatever you want to, and let me alone."


Frimousset would ask no further questions; when by
dint of being submissive he had irritated his wife, she
never failed to say : " Do whatever you please and let
me alone." Thereupon Nicole's husband would go off
to the wine-shop and pass the day there. Nicole would
look in vain for him in the pasture and the garden, and
at night, when he came home to supper she would ask:

" Where on earth have you been working ? I couldn't
find you anywhere."

And Jacquinot would reply in a cajoling tone :

" Faith, you wouldn't tell me what work to begin on,
and I was afraid of doing something wrong; I didn't
want to do anything without your orders."

With a man of Frimousset's stamp, comfort, when it
exists, soon gives place to straitened circumstances, and
then to poverty; among the small as among the great,
there is no fortune which is large enough to withstand
disorder. After five years of married life, Nicole was
obliged to sell her field and her pasture, all because Mon-
sieur Jacquinot never knew where to begin when it was
a question of working.

Meanwhile Nicole had seen her family increased by
three small boys, healthy boys with excellent appetites.
Three children more and several pieces of land less
could not bring comfort to Frimousset's home. Then
it was that Nicole conceived the idea of becoming a
nurse ; and as the peasant was as active and determined
as her husband was lazy and shiftless, her plan was soon
carried out.

And that was why Jasmin, when he went to Rue Sainte-
Apolline, to the Nurses' Bureau, had found the peasant
from Gagny, whom he had selected because of her
pleasant face, and whom he had carried in triumph to*
his master, the Marquis de Grandvilain.


Nicole was an excellent woman, and she became sin-
cerely attached to the child that was placed in her charge ;
she took him as soon as he cried, and was never weary
of giving him the breast and of dancing him in her arms ;
she took care too that he should always be neat and clean.
But the peasant woman was a mother too ; she had three
gas that is what she called them, and despite all her
affection for her nursling, it was to her gas that Nicole
gave the sweetmeats, the preserves, the biscuit and the
gingerbread of which Madame la Marquise de Grand-
vilain had not failed to give her an abundant supply, urg-
ing her not to spare them, never to deny Cherubin any-
thing, and to send to her for other delicacies when those
should be exhausted.

Luckily for Cherubin, Nicole did not follow to the
letter the instructions that were given her. As one is a
mother before being a nurse, the peasant woman neces-
sarily had more affection for her children than for her
foster-child. She gave milk to the latter, while the
others stuffed themselves with dainties, candy and ginger-
bread, which soon upset their health, whereas, on the con-
trary, little Grandvilain became fresh and rosy and plump
and hearty.

The coming of the nursling placed the Frimousset
household upon its feet once more. Nicole had asked for
thirty francs a month, but the marquis had said to her :

" Just let my son get well, let him recover his health,
and I will give you twice that ! "

And Jacquinot who had more time than ever to idle

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