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Madame Husson’s "Rosier"
by [?]

We had just left Gisors, where I was awakened to hearing the name of the town called out by the guards, and I was dozing off again when a terrific shock threw me forward on top of a large lady who sat opposite me.

One of the wheels of the engine had broken, and the engine itself lay across the track. The tender and the baggage car were also derailed, and lay beside this mutilated engine, which rattled, groaned, hissed, puffed, sputtered, and resembled those horses that fall in the street with their flanks heaving, their breast palpitating, their nostrils steaming and their whole body trembling, but incapable of the slightest effort to rise and start off again.

There were no dead or wounded; only a few with bruises, for the train was not going at full speed. And we looked with sorrow at the great crippled iron creature that could not draw us along any more, and that blocked the track, perhaps for some time, for no doubt they would have to send to Paris for a special train to come to our aid.

It was then ten o’clock in the morning, and I at once decided to go back to Gisors for breakfast.

As I was walking along I said to myself:

“Gisors, Gisors–why, I know someone there!

“Who is it? Gisors? Let me see, I have a friend in this town.” A name suddenly came to my mind, “Albert Marambot.” He was an old school friend whom I had not seen for at least twelve years, and who was practicing medicine in Gisors. He had often written, inviting me to come and see him, and I had always promised to do so, without keeping my word. But at last I would take advantage of this opportunity.

I asked the first passer-by:

“Do you know where Dr. Marambot lives?”

He replied, without hesitation, and with the drawling accent of the Normans:

“Rue Dauphine.”

I presently saw, on the door of the house he pointed out, a large brass plate on which was engraved the name of my old chum. I rang the bell, but the servant, a yellow-haired girl who moved slowly, said with a Stupid air:

“He isn’t here, he isn’t here.”

I heard a sound of forks and of glasses and I cried:

“Hallo, Marambot!”

A door opened and a large man, with whiskers and a cross look on his face, appeared, carrying a dinner napkin in his hand.

I certainly should not have recognized him. One would have said he was forty-five at least, and, in a second, all the provincial life which makes one grow heavy, dull and old came before me. In a single flash of thought, quicker than the act of extending my hand to him, I could see his life, his manner of existence, his line of thought and his theories of things in general. I guessed at the prolonged meals that had rounded out his stomach, his after-dinner naps from the torpor of a slow indigestion aided by cognac, and his vague glances cast on the patient while he thought of the chicken that was roasting before the fire. His conversations about cooking, about cider, brandy and wine, the way of preparing certain dishes and of blending certain sauces were revealed to me at sight of his puffy red cheeks, his heavy lips and his lustreless eyes.

“You do not recognize me. I am Raoul Aubertin,” I said.

He opened his arms and gave me such a hug that I thought he would choke me.

“You have not breakfasted, have you?”


“How fortunate! I was just sitting down to table and I have an excellent trout.”

Five minutes later I was sitting opposite him at breakfast. I said:

“Are you a bachelor?”

“Yes, indeed.”

“And do you like it here?”

“Time does not hang heavy; I am busy. I have patients and friends. I eat well, have good health, enjoy laughing and shooting. I get along.”