Proceeding from Cussou Mill to that of Estaniels, one comes past the barns of great-uncle Cartou de la Rivière who had hidden there a case of gold-pieces, prize of the misfortune of a miner’s existence, a small fortune flown away for him one day, for ever, but which undoubtedly caused happiness to some gold-washer in the neighbourhood.
There, the Arize glides through juicy meadows, its riverains twisted by fog and rhumatism, a nuisance much regretted by the young miller, the one who caught the black trout with his hands, who picked the corn cob by moonshine, with the badger’s beard, who had his pockets burst with secular chestnuts and who hid in the hedges to overhear ladies’ conversation: this “Müller” run to seed, who, once a prisoner in Austria (oh Schubert!), found himself working in a knife-factory where his zeal did not attract attention particularly, at the same time falling in love with his landlady’s daughter whose “distant love” he cultivated when back in his own country, in addition to two or three local trifles without importance.
Helmeted like a “Panzer” commander, he ran around the little roads of the Séronais by moped in order to visit the fairs of the neighbouring villages, or, in fine weather, those of Foix impeccably recorded in the Almanac Patois published by the Printer in rue Labistour.
In the remainder of the week he sawed the logs for winter, sat down for his meals at fixed hours, warmed himself by the chimney corner, stoking up the embers of the vast fire-place, read novels and the press (obituaries), attended the meetings of the municipal council where Monsieur l’Escoussière never wanted to enthrone him, bragged about being able to topple over the “Picarde” and the “Quincampoix-la-Foldingue” as surely as he turned over the clods of “Lady Chatterley”’s garden, the one across the road, reminisced about the three Ménets, Lords of the Castet de Toch and their children: Marie de Montespan, Victor de Pau, Baptiste d’Aspet, Joseph du Mas, Jean de Toch, Louise de Maintenon, who sometimes stopped for a chat with him before tackling the steep path which leads to the “goulérou” and to the estate of Joseph de la Fourche, which then passes under the pub-balcony and along the yard of the beautiful School frequented by them all, girls and boys, to finally reach the Church and the small hillside cemetery where “Fleur de Farine” (petname given by his first school mistress) has had a tomb erected, crowning emblem of a life of semi-labour at the service of the hazards of uncertainty, common lot of those who did not want to, or were unable to, court the smart walls and the gold of the République, as he himself was pleased to stress, his eyes shining with malice.
“Vos coatara ! ... n’a coatat més d’uno !” (he will coete you, he has coeted more than one !), was the charitable conclusion of Mariotto de l’Oustalot whose daughter, notwithstanding, had copied 500 times under her school master’s strict rule:” I shall not listen to the cheating couillons ...”
Jasotte de l’Oustalote puts her hand to her pants
and withdraws it screaming;
While she was chatting, would you believe it,
under her frock a biting slug had passed.
Claude d’Esplas (Le Parcellaire)
Translation : Dagmar Coward Kuschke (Tübingen)
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