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    Chapter 3

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    Chapter 3
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    One evening in summer the bookbinder was enjoying the fresh air before his door when a big man with a red nose, past middle age and wearing a scarlet waistcoat stained with grease-spots, appeared, bowing politely and confidentially, and addressed him in a sing-song voice in which even Monsieur Servien could detect an Italian accent:

    "Sir, I have translated the _Gerusalemme Liberata_, the immortal masterpiece of Torquato Tasso"--and a bulging packet of manuscript under his arm confirmed the statement.

    "Yes, sir, I have devoted sleepless nights to this glorious and ungrateful task. Without family or fatherland, I have written my translation in dark, ice-cold garrets, on chandlers' wrappers, snuff papers, the backs of playing cards! Such has been the exile's task! You, sir, you live in your own land, in the bosom of a happy family--at least I hope so."

    This speech, which impressed him by its magniloquence and its strangeness, set the bookbinder dreaming of the dead woman he had loved, and he saw her in his mind's eye coiling her beautiful hair as in the early days of their married life.

    The big man proceeded:

    "Man is like a plant which perishes when the storms uproot it.

    "Here is your son, is it not so? He is like you"--and laying his hand on Jean's head, who clung to his father's coat-tails in wonder at the red waistcoat and the sing-song voice, he asked if the child learned his lessons well, if he was growing up to be a clever man, if he would not soon be beginning Latin.

    "That noble language," he added, "whose inimitable monuments have often made me forget my misfortunes.

    "Yes, sir, I have often breakfasted on a page of Tacitus and supped on a satire of Juvenal."

    As he said the words, a look of sadness over-spread his shining red face, and dropping his voice:

    "Forgive me, sir, if I hold out to you the casque of Belisarius. I am the Marquis Tudesco, of Venice. When I have received from the bookseller the price of my labour, I will not forget that you succoured me with a small coin in the time of my sharpest trial."

    The bookbinder, case-hardened as he was against beggars, who on winter evenings drifted into his shop with the east wind, nevertheless experienced a certain sympathy and respect for the 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.
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