Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Evil is obvious only in retrospect."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 7

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 8
    Previous Chapter
    In which is described how George and Honey-Bee went to the lake

    The next day after the midday meal, the Duchess having gone to her own room George took Honey-Bee by the hand. "Now come!" he said. "Where?" "Hush!"

    They crept down stairs and crossed the courtyard. After they had passed the postern, Honey-Bee again asked where they were going.

    "To the lake," George said resolutely. Honey-Bee opened her mouth wide but remained speechless. To go so far without permission and in satin shoes! For her shoes were of satin. There was no sense in it.

    "We must go and there is no need to be sensible."

    Such was George's proud reply. She had once humiliated him and now she pretended to be astonished.

    This time it was he who disdainfully sent her back to her dolls. Girls always tempt one on to adventures and then run away. So mean! She could remain. He'd go alone.

    She clung to his arm; he pushed her away.

    She hung about his neck.

    "Little brother," she sobbed, "I will follow you."

    He allowed himself to be moved by such touching repentance.

    "Come then, but not through the town; we may be seen. We will follow the ramparts and then we can reach the highway by a cross road."

    And so they went hand in hand while George explained his plans.

    "We will follow the road we took to the Hermitage and then we shall be sure to see the lake, just as we did the other day, and then we can cross the fields in a bee line."

    "A bee line" is the pretty rustic way of saying a straight line; and they both laughed because of the young girl's name which fitted in so oddly.

    Honey-Bee picked flowers along the ditches; she made a posy of marshmallows, white mullein, asters and chrysanthemums; the flowers faded in her little hands and it was pitiful to see them when Honey-Bee crossed the old stone bridge. As she did not know what to do with them she decided to throw them into the water to refresh them, but finally she preferred to give them to the "Woman without a head."

    She begged George to lift her in his arms so as to make her tall enough, and she placed her armful of wild flowers between the folded hands of the old stone figure.

    After she was far away she looked back and saw a pigeon resting on the shoulder of the statue.

    When they had been walking some time, said Honey-bee, "I am thirsty."

    "So am I," George replied, "but the river is far behind us, and I see neither brook nor fountain."

    "The sun is so hot that he has drunk them all up. What shall we do?"

    So they talked and lamented when they saw a peasant woman approach who carried a basket of fruit.

    "Cherries!" cried George. "How unlucky: I have no money to buy any."

    "I have money," said Honey-Bee.

    She pulled out of her pocket a little purse in which were five pieces of gold.

    "Good woman," she said to the peasant, "will you give me as many cherries as my frock will hold?"

    And she raised her little skirt with her two hands. The woman threw in two or three handfuls of cherries. With one hand Honey-Bee held the uplifted skirt and with the other she offered the woman a gold piece.

    "Is that enough?"

    The woman clutched the gold piece which would amply have paid not only for the cherries in the basket but for the tree on which they grew and the plot of land on which the tree stood.

    The artful one replied:

    "I'm satisfied, if only to oblige you, little princess."

    "Well then, put some more cherries in my brother's cap," said Honey-Bee, "and you shall have another gold piece."

    This was done. The peasant woman went on her way meditating in what old stocking or under what mattress she should hide her two gold pieces.

    And the two children followed the road eating the cherries and throwing the stones to the right and the left. George chose the cherries that hung two by two on one stem and made earrings for his little sister, and he laughed to see the lovely twin fruit dangle its vermillion beauty against her cheeks.

    A pebble stopped their joyous progress. It had got into Honey-Bee's little shoe and she began to limp. At every step she took, her golden curls bobbed against her cheek, and so limping she sat down on a bank by the roadside. Her brother knelt down and took off the satin shoe. He shook it and out dropped a little white pebble.

    "Little brother," she said as she looked at her feet, "the next time we go to the lake we'll put on boots."

    The sun was already sinking against the radiant sky; a soft breeze caressed their cheeks and necks, and so, cheered and refreshed, the two little travellers proceeded on their way. To make walking easier they went hand in hand, and they laughed to see their moving shadows melt together before them. They sang:

    Maid Marian, setting forth to find The mill, with sacks of corn to grind, Her donkey, Jan, bestrode. My dainty maiden, Marian, She mounted on her donkey, Jan, And took the mill-ward road.*

    * Marian' s'en allant au moulin, Pour y faire moudre son grain, Ell monta sur son âne, Ma p'tite mam'sell' Marianne! Ell' monta sur son âne Martin Pour aller au moulin.

    But Honey-Bee stopped:

    "I have lost my shoe, my satin shoe," she cried. And so it was. The little shoe, whose silken laces had become loose in walking, lay in the road covered-with dust. Then as she looked back and saw the towers of the castle of Clarides fade into the distant twilight her heart sank and the tears came to her eyes.

    "The wolves will eat us," she cried, "and our mother will never see us again and she will die of grief."

    But George comforted her as he put on her shoe.

    "When the castle bell rings for supper we shall have returned to Clarides. Come!"

    The miller saw her coming nigh And could not well forbear to cry, Your donkey you must tether. My dainty maiden, Marian, Tether you here your donkey, Jan, Who brought us twain together.*

    * Le meunier qui la voit venir Ne peut s'empêcher de lui dire: Attachez là votre âne, Ma p'tite Mam'sell' Marianne, Attachez là votre âne Martin Qui vous mène au moulin.

    "The lake, Honey-Bee! See the lake, the lake, the lake!"

    "Yes, George, the lake!"

    George shouted "hurrah" and flung his hat in the air. Honey-Bee was too proper to fling hers up also, so taking off the shoe that wouldn't stay on she threw it joyfully over her head.

    There lay the lake in the depths of the valley and its curved and sloping banks made a framework of foliage and flowers about its silver waves. It lay there clear and tranquil, and one could see the swaying of the indistinct green of its banks.

    But the children could find no path through the underbrush that would lead to its beautiful waters.

    While they were searching for one their legs were nipped by some geese driven by a little girl dressed in a sheepskin and carrying a switch. George asked her name.

    "Gilberte."

    "Well, then, Gilberte, how can one go to the lake?"

    "Folks doesn't go."

    "Why?"

    "Because..."

    "But supposing folks did?"

    "If folks did there'd be a path, and one would take that path."

    George could think of no adequate reply to this guardian of the geese.

    "Let's go," he said, "farther on we shall be sure to find a way through the woods."

    "And we will pick nuts and eat them," said Honey-Bee, "for I am hungry. The next time we go to the lake we must bring a satchel full of good things to eat."

    "That we will, little sister," said George. "And I quite agree with Francoeur, our squire, who when he went to Rome, took a ham with him, in case he should hunger, and a flask lest he should be thirsty. But hurry, for it is growing late, though I don't know the time."

    "The shepherdesses know by looking at the sun," said Honey-Bee; "but I am not a shepherdess. Yet it seems to me that when we left the sun was over our head, and now it is down there, far behind the town and castle of Clarides. I wonder if this happens every day and what it means?"

    While they looked at the sun a cloud of dust rose up from the high road, and they saw some cavaliers with glittering weapons ride past at full speed. The children hid in the underbrush in great terror. "They are thieves or probably ogres," they thought. They were really guards sent by the Duchess of Clarides in search of the little truants.

    The two little adventurers found a footpath in the underbrush, not a lovers' lane, for it was impossible to walk side by side holding hands as is the fashion of lovers. Nor could the print of human footsteps be seen, but only indentations left by innumerable tiny cloven feet.

    "Those are the feet of little devils," said Honey-Bee.

    "Or deer," suggested George.

    The matter was never explained. But what is certain is that the footpath descended in a gentle slope towards the edge of the lake which lay before the two children in all its languorous and silent beauty. The willows surrounded its banks with their tender foliage. The slender blades of the reeds with their delicate plumes swayed lightly over the water. They formed tremulous islands about which the water-lilies spread their great heart-shaped leaves and snow-white flowers. Over these blossoming islands dragon-flies, all emerald or azure, with wings of flame, sped their shrill flight in suddenly altered curves.

    The children plunged their burning feet with joy in the damp sand overgrown with tufted horse-tails and the reed-mace with its slender lance. The sweet flag wafted towards them its humble fragrance and the water plantain unrolled about them its filaments of lace on the margin of the sleeping waters which the willow-herb starred with its purple flowers.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 8
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Anatole France essay and need some advice, post your Anatole France essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?