Mimine observes me always from the door-step. The nettles and the brambles which border the undivided courtyard retreat easily before the “dailhot”, this hybrid scythe as asexual as a Cherubim in quest of gender. Banks of rock are level in the midst of generous grass, a grey rock, hard, which surfaces like a fossilized swordfish back. The beam which supported one half of the roof of the house (in Rome all houses were propped up) has sagged. And everyone insisting : “the roof must be redone urgently !”, everyone and all the world, all the visitors or possible acquirers before a call for tender, like this architect with a young blond woman who passed himself off as a craftsman accompanied by his workwoman or this garage mechanic-hunter and his Diane-bonesetter or these earthy cultivators ready to “submit” a best price in order “not to have regrets”, etc.,without forgetting the Hippies who have set up their communities on these disinherited hills, subject to escheat, fed by the cash-box of Papa who has given a small farm worth 40 million old francs to his son whom he prefers to see raise animals with his mates (even if the animals die systematically as much as mysteriously) rather than err about in quest of the artificial paradizes of the Capital, without joy, without purpose.
By the way Papa does not abandon them : did he not recently leave his Industry in order to come and greet, with helicopter blades, “his” enthusiastic community. The two eagles which patrol emitting short and plaintive cries abandon themselves to the ascending or descending currents while maintaining a reasonable distance from these flying machines or the super-fighters which whistle above the crests which still separate us from Spain. In the course of the summers 1938/1939, one heard the cannon thunder far beyond the Ker de Massat and it was, up there, the same impassible moon which made the potatoes grow and waver the tender-spirited just as it made dream the veterans of Rome some of whom are still sleeping in the small necropolis which is juxtaposed to land parcel 234, without having enjoyed their retirement in some tumbledown cottage of opulent Tuscany or even without having had the time to transmit a last money order to their spouse, who would have immediately dashed off to the theatre to hear the lascivious Bathylle* in the passionate rôle of Leda - at the risk, even she, of not being able any more to command her senses. Since they are sleeping, may they sleep here in peace according to the antique formula and the secular decrees of the regional Directors of the prehistoric antiquities (Law of 27 September 1941, validated by ordinance of 24 September 1945) according to which “modern excavation, a veritable detective’s work ... can be successfully carried through by experts only, for one does not improvize as an archaeologist any more than one does as a medic or an electronics engineer. The clandestine excavator who digs the ground in order to find some flint implements or fragments of pottery is a vandal...” (But the Vandals of the Fifth or Sixth centuries, would they accept to be put so low on the index ?).
*Bathylle, famous pantomime, protected by Maecenas
Above the small macadamized road (ô Hadrian !) whose borders have just been skilfully cut back by the tractor-mower of the Highway Maintenance Department, land parcels 85 and 85 bis are cascading down a slope where apple-trees, plum-trees, pear-trees, fig-trees linger in their jewel case of tender grass. The preceding propriator used to spread the manure of his herd of cows on this land parcel 85, which, year after year, has transformed into an enormous heap unleashing the surrounding vegetation, a heap which “is well worth a million old francs” according to the estimate of the mayor of the commune, Monsieur l’Escoussière. He for one, thirsty for contacts, comes to the conversation like cattle to the watering place for the neighbourhood is difficult on these lands of the Haute-Gascogne, the characters hard, the souvenirs of misery not yet extinguished and the judgments of former times are nearly valid on these people who - charitably speaking, and already in 1635 - constituted, according to the Bishop of Castillon “a hard-headed people and whom it would be necessary to lead with an iron bar” (the subsequent bishops will content themselves with a less rigid instrument). L’Escoussière was designated President of the Forestry Syndicate which regroups four communes and pledges total admiration to Mr Engineer of the Waters and Forestry Commission. Once a year, the Syndicate Members regroup their forces around Mr Engineer to “have a good meal, well moistened” and “everybody returns content”. From time to time, the sous-prefect of St-Couserans ventures as far as the Town Hall. On one occasion even, the Prefect of the Département, well-placed in the spheres of power (he who appoints meetings with the political ladies, at his domicile, on the stroke of 23 hours, in summer nights, Lignon Square), came to bring a Grand Image of the Republic but refused to take an interest in the War Memorial and in the little flags which the Mayor had had displayed in honour of this beautiful day. The Prefect, at present retired, converted into sheep-breeding and watches the thoroughbreds (in the absence of the tender bovines of the Astrée) run on the race-course neighbouring his domicile at the time where our Republic is subjected to the laws of a Professor of french-latin-greek, while the Romanization of Gaul continues full swing : Civil Law, military law, religious law, road law, all roads lead, of course, to Rome, as underlines the Bishop of the Couserans who moves about in a lounge suit and hunts down the cèpe of the Castillon to the extreme jubilation of the handsome laughers of Appaméa, his episcopal town.