Coming from Neighbour-Borough a few lengths from the communal boundary, land parcel 234, on the flank of the little tarred road, goes down to the valley, fixed to the ground like an opulent carpet of greenery, past the little barn (235) whose back is leaning against the slope, open on two sides, supported by three pillars.
Ash-trees, giant chestnut-trees, birch-trees like along the railway line Moscow-Kiev, and fern where, it seems, cepes would be hiding, surround wild cherry-trees laden with small blood-red cherries, which tremble in the breeze like the “earrings” dear to Jean-Baptiste Clément.
Jean-Baptiste is a first name which sounds good to the ears of the older generation of the country. By the way, in the families, according to the old saracen law, the eldest of the children carries his father’s first-name, the second first-name, a useful variant, avoids the American style gradations senior, junior.
One of these “Jean-Baptiste”, grandson of a witch of the land, had a career in the colonial sector (New-Caledonia, Tchad) before running a news-agent’s business in the Agenais and coming, in fine, to cultivate his garden in the good town of Appaméa, “good” because of the quality of its Bishopric, for one could not be too prudent, since Satan insists on leading the ball (Father Amilha, regular Canon of Saint-Antonin, will not give us the lie) ; and the ways of the Devil, as we know, manifest themselves in an often impenetrable fashion, prompting pains and malaise which only the tolosan healer Mesmérouf undoes as ably and quickly as they were done.
Chased by the pack the wild boars pass necessarily by the entrance to land parcel 234, just as the animals endowed with reason take the obligatory check-points : birth, communion, conjugation, extreme-unction (Jean-Baptiste Rebengut, in his extreme prudence, has just renewed this latter sacrament for the 7th time). On the occasion of the organized battues against the village warthogs, these pigs set free, these snouts which delight in ploughing up the seed-beds of the agricultural tribe, one “posts” a shooter with a buckshot rifle with telescopic sight whose mission it is to alter the course of the four-ham machine which climbs or descends the slope like a locomotive of the Farwest at the time of the Pawnees. The buckshot-nimrod does not always acquit himself of his mission in the best interest of the hunting community.
Many a time he does not see the rough animal come towards him or pretends not to see it for, if injured, it will turn against the hunter, like the bull against the picador. It is better to endure the secret jibes or the knowing looks of the human pack, if not, at times, the puzzled mien and crinkled ears of the canine race, all these Taïaut, Capito, Tito (Brusquette, Diane for the ladies) than to return to the village with the promise of stitching or of convalescing like a stallion at half pay hardly considered in the aperitif conversations on the bench of the Townhall square of Neighbour-Borough (camping, good air, doctor, pharmacist, notary, catholic service and a barber-hairdresser Antiochus (a friend of uncle Paul), whose razor is harder than the cruel blade with which the priest of Cybele cuts himself screaming.
Claude d’Esplas (Le Parcellaire)
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Translation : Dagmar Coward Kuschke (Tübingen)