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Anatole France is something of a Socialist; and in that

2023-12-01 20:36:35 source:A Spring Dream Netauthor: two click:330Second-rate

"Oh, Monsieur Patience!" cried the boy, clasping his hands; "do not curse me; do not bewitch me; do not give me any illness; it wasn't I! May God strike me dead if it was!"

Anatole France is something of a Socialist; and in that

"If it wasn't you, it was this one, then!" said Patience, seizing me by the coat-collar and shaking me like a young tree to be uprooted.

Anatole France is something of a Socialist; and in that

"Yes, I did it," I replied, haughtily; "and if you wish to know my name, learn that I am called Bernard Mauprat, and that a peasant who lays a hand on a nobleman deserves death."

Anatole France is something of a Socialist; and in that

"Death! You! You would put me to death, Mauprat!" cried the old man, petrified with surprise and indignation. "And what would God be, then, if a brat like you had a right to threaten a man of my age? Death! Ah, you are a genuine Mauprat, and you bite like your breed, cursed whelp! Such things as they talk of putting to death the very moment they are born! Death, my wolf-cub! Do you know it is yourself who deserves death, not for what you have just done, but for being the son of your father, and the nephew of your uncles? Ah! I am glad to hold a Mauprat in the hollow of my hand, and see whether a cur of a nobleman weighs as much as a Christian."

As he spoke he lifted me from the ground as he would have lifted a hare.

"Little one," he said to my comrade, "you can run home; you needn't be afraid. Patience rarely gets angry with his equals; and he always pardons his brothers, because his brothers are ignorant like himself, and know not what they do; but a Mauprat, look you, is a thing that knows how to read and write, and is only the viler for it all. Run away, then. But no; stay; I should like you once in your life to see a nobleman receive a thrashing from the hand of a peasant. And that is what you are going to see; and I ask you not to forget it, little one, and to tell your parents about it."

Livid, and gnashing my teeth with rage, I made desperate efforts to resist. Patience, with hideous calmness, bound me to a tree with an osier shoot. At the touch of his great horny hand I bent like a reed; and yet I was remarkably strong for my age. He fixed the owl to a branch above my head, and the bird's blood, as it fell on me drop by drop, caused me unspeakable horror; for though this was only the correction we administer to sporting dogs that worry game, my brain, bewildered by rage, despair, and my comrades' cries, began to imagine some frightful witchcraft. However, I really think I would rather have been metamorphosed into an owl at once than undergo the punishment he inflicted on me. In vain did I fling threats at him; in vain did I take terrible vows of vengeance; in vain did the peasant child throw himself on his knees again and supplicate:

"Monsieur Patience, for God's sake, for your own sake, don't harm him; the Mauprats will kill you."

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