Monday, April 14, 2014


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E Marquis Tudesco. He slipped a franc-piece into his hand. Thereupon the old Italian, like a man inspired, exclaimed: "One Nation there is that is unhappy--Italy, one generous People--France; and one bond that unites the twain--humanity. Ah! chiefest of the virtues, humanity, humanity!" Meantime the bookbinder was pondering his wife's last words: "I wish my Jean to learn Latin." He hesitated, till seeing Monsieur Tudesco bowing and smiling to go: "Sir," he said, "if you are ready, two or three times a week, to give the boy lessons in French and Latin, we might come to terms." The Marquis Tudesco expressed no surprise. He smiled and said: "Certainly, sir, as you wish it, I shall find it a delightful task to initiate your son in the mysteries of the Latin rudiments. "We will make a man of him and a good citizen, and God knows what heights my pupil will scale in this noble land of freedom and generosity. He may one day be ambassador, my dear sir. I say it: knowledge is power." "You will know the shop again," said the bookbinder; "there is my name on the signboard." The Marquis Tudesco, after tweaking the son's ear amicably and bowing to the father with a dignified familiarity, walked away with a step that was still jaunty. IV The Marquis Tudesco returned in due course, smiled at Mademoiselle Servien, who darted poisonous looks at him, greeted the bookbinder with a discreet air of patronage, and had a supply of grammars and dictionaries bought. At first he gave his lessons with exemplary regularity. He had taken a liking to these repetitions of nouns and verbs, which he listened to with a dignified, condescending air, slowly unrolling his screw of snuff the while; he only interrupted to interject little playful remarks with a geniality just touched with a trace of ferocity, that bespoke his real nature as an unctuous, cringing bully. He was jocular and pompous at the same time, and always made a pretence of being a long time in seeing the glass of wine put on the table for his refreshment. The bookbinder, regarding him as a clever man of ill-regulated life, always treated him with great consideration, for faults of behaviour almost cease to shock us except among neighbours, or at most fellow-countrymen. Without knowing it, Jean found a fund of amusement in the witticisms and harangues of his old teacher, who united in himself the contradictory attributes of high-priest and buffoon

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