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    Chapter 5

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    Chapter 5
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    The bookbinder, for all his scanty earnings, was resolved to enter Jean at a school where the boy could enjoy a regular and complete course of instruction. He selected a day-school not far from the Luxembourg, because he could see the top branches of an acacia overtopping the wall, and the house had a cheerful look.

    Jean, as a little new boy (he was now eleven), was some weeks before he shook off the shyness with which his schoolfellows' loud voices and rough ways and his masters' ponderous gravity had at first overwhelmed him. Little by little he grew used to the work, and learned some of the tricks by means of which punishments were avoided; his schoolfellows found him so inoffensive they left off stealing his cap and initiated him in the game of marbles. But he had little love for school-life, and when five o'clock came, prayers were over and his satchel strapped, it was with unfeigned delight he dashed out into the street basking in the golden rays of the setting sun. In the intoxication of freedom, he danced and leapt, seeing everything, men and horses, carriages and shops, in a charmed light, and out of sheer joy of life mumbling at his Aunt Servien's hand and arm, as she walked home with him carrying the satchel and lunch-basket.

    The evening was a peaceful time. Jean would sit drawing pictures or dreaming over his copy-books at one end of the table where Mademoiselle Servien had just cleared away the meal. His father would be busy with a book. As age advanced he had acquired a taste for reading, his favourites being La Fontaine's _Fables_, Anquetil's _History of France_, and Voltaire's _Dictionnaire Philosophique_, "to get the hang of things," as he put it. His sister made fruitless efforts to distract his attention with some stinging criticism of the neighbours or a question about "our fat friend who had not come back," for she made a point of never remembering the Marquis Tudesco's name.
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