Informational Site NetworkInformational Site Network
Privacy
 
Home - Stories - Categories - Books - Search

Featured Stories

The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Categories

A FAIRY-TALE

Aesop

ALPHABET RHYMES

AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES

AMUSING ALPHABETS

Animal Sketches And Stories

ANIMAL STORIES

ARBOR DAY

BIRD DAY

Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon

Bohemian Story

BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS

CATS

CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES

CHRISTMAS DAY

COLUMBUS DAY

CUSTOM RHYMES

Didactic Stories

Everyday Verses

EVIL SPIRITS

FABLES

FABLES FOR CHILDREN

FABLES FROM INDIA

FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS

FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

For Classes Ii. And Iii.

For Classes Iv. And V.

For Kindergarten And Class I.

FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK

GERMAN

Good Little Henry

HALLOWEEN

Happy Days

INDEPENDENCE DAY

JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]

Jean De La Fontaine

King Alexander's Adventures

KINGS AND WARRIORS

LABOR DAY

LAND AND WATER FAIRIES

Lessons From Nature

LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY

LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG

Love Lyrics

Lyrics

MAY DAY

MEMORIAL DAY

Modern

MODERN FABLES

MODERN FAIRY TALES

MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED

MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES

MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES

MOTHERS' DAY

Myths And Legends

NATURE SONGS

NEGLECT THE FIRE

NUMBER RHYMES

NURSERY GAMES

NURSERY-SONGS.

NURSEY STORIES

OLD-FASHIONED STORIES

ON POPULAR EDUCATION

OURSON

Perseus

PLACES AND FAMILIES

Poems Of Nature

Polish Story

Popular

PROVERB RHYMES

RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)

RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"

RIDDLE RHYMES

RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE

ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES

SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY

Selections From The Bible

Servian Story

SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES

Some Children's Poets

Songs Of Life

STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS

STORIES FOR CHILDREN

STORIES for LITTLE BOYS

STORIES FROM BOTANY

STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN

STORIES FROM IRELAND

STORIES FROM PHYSICS

STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA

STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY

STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS

SUPERSITITIONS

THANKSGIVING DAY

The Argonauts

THE CANDLE

THE DAYS OF THE WEEK

THE DECEMBRISTS

The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers

The Little Grey Mouse

THE OLD FAIRY TALES

The Princess Rosette

THE THREE HERMITS

THE TWO OLD MEN

Theseus

Traditional

UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES

VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES

WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

WHAT MEN LIVE BY

WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO

The Pets Of Aurore Dupin

from The Strange Story Book





During the years in which Napoleon and his armies were fighting in
Spain, in Germany, and in Russia, a little girl might be seen running
wild in the province of Berry, which is almost in the very centre of
France. In those days if you had asked her name she would have answered
that it was 'Aurore Dupin'; but by and bye she took another, which by
her books she made famous--nearly as famous, indeed, in its own way as
that of her great ancestor, the general Count Maurice de Saxe.

But it is not the celebrated writer who called herself 'George Sand'
with whom we have to do now, but the child Aurore Dupin, and her friends
the birds and beasts, dwellers like herself in the bare and desolate
plains that surrounded her grandmother's chateau of Nohant. Maurice
Dupin, father of Aurore, was a soldier like his grandfather, Maurice de
Saxe; but her mother was the daughter of a bird-seller, who, curiously
enough, lived in the 'Street of the Birds' (Quai des Oiseaux) in Paris.
To this fact Aurore always declared that she owed her powers of
fascination over the chaffinches, robins, or starlings that would sit on
her shoulders or perch on her hands as she walked with her mother in the
garden. And far from being frightened at the presence of a grown-up
person, the birds often seemed to prefer Madame Maurice Dupin to Aurore
herself.

Aurore became very learned about birds and their ways, considering them
far cleverer than men or animals, and endowed with finer qualities than
either. Warblers she held superior to any other small bird, and says
that at fifteen days a warbler is as old in the feathered world as a
child of ten is in that which speaks instead of chirping. When she was a
little girl at Nohant, she brought up by hand two baby warblers of
different sorts and different nests.

The one with a yellow breast she named Jonquil; while the other, who had
a grey waistcoat, was called Agatha. Jonquil was as much as a fortnight
older than Agatha, and when under the care of Aurore she was a slim,
gentle young creature, inclined to be thin, and with scarcely enough
feathers to cover her skin, and not yet able to fly with certainty from
one branch to another, or even to feed herself. This Aurore knew was her
own fault, because if Jonquil had remained at home she would have
learned these things far earlier, for bird-mothers are much better
teachers than our mothers, and insist that their children shall find
out how to get on by themselves.

Agatha was a most tiresome child. She would never be quiet for a moment,
but was always hopping about, crying out and tormenting Jonquil, who was
beginning to wonder at all she saw around her, and would sit thinking
with one claw drawn up under her wing, her eyes half shut, and her head
sunk between her shoulders. But Agatha, who never thought at all, did
not see why anybody else should do so either, and would peck at
Jonquil's legs and wings in order to attract attention, unless Aurore
happened to be in the room and glance at her. Then Agatha would dance up
and down the branch uttering plaintive cries, till some bread or biscuit
was given to her. For Agatha was always hungry, or always greedy; you
did not quite know which.

One morning Aurore was absorbed in writing a story, and her two little
friends were seated on a green branch some distance away. It was rather
cold, and Agatha, whose feathers still only half covered her, was
cuddling for warmth against Jonquil. They had actually been quiet for
half an hour--a very rare occurrence--but at length they made up their
minds it must be time for dinner, and if Aurore did not know it, she
must be told.

So Jonquil hopped on to the back of a chair and from that to the table,
and finally planted her claws upon the writing paper, making a great
mess of the words; while Agatha, who was afraid to leave the branch by
herself, flapped her wings and opened her beak, screaming with hunger.

Aurore was just in the middle of the great scene in her story, where
the hero and heroine had found out the wicked uncle, and fond though she
was of Jonquil, she felt for the first time very much provoked by her
behaviour. She pointed out to her that by now she really was old enough
to feed herself, and that close by was an excellent pasty in a pretty
saucer, only she was too lazy to eat it, and expected her mistress to
put it in her mouth. Jonquil was not accustomed to be scolded, and did
not like it, and to show her displeasure hopped sulkily back to her
branch. Agatha, however, had no mind to go without her dinner, and,
turning to Jonquil, insisted that she should return at once and help her
to that delicious dish. And she was so eloquent in her pleading that
Jonquil seemed really moved, though she hesitated as to whether she
should do as Agatha desired, or if she should keep her dignity and
remain on her branch.

Of course, Aurore pretended to see nothing of all this, although in
reality she was watching eagerly under her eyelids how it would end.

Suddenly there was a flutter in the air, and Jonquil stood on the edge
of the saucer. She opened her mouth and chirped, expecting the food to
fly into her beak; but as it did nothing of the sort, she stooped down
and pecked it. To the surprise of her mistress, instead of swallowing
the morsel herself, she flew back to the branch and gave it to Agatha.

From that day Jonquil took as much care of Agatha as if she had been her
own child. She saw that her feathers were kept in order, taught her very
soon to feed herself, and steadied her in her first nights from the
branch. Agatha proved quicker and cleverer than her mistress expected,
and in a month's time she and Jonquil had made a home for themselves
amongst the big trees in the garden, from which they would often fly
down to see their old friends at dinner in the garden, and to share
their dessert.

* * * * *

All through her life Aurore and the birds around were close friends;
others besides Jonquil and Agatha would come when she called them, not
because they knew their names, but because they recognised the sound of
her voice. In later years she had a splendid hawk whom everyone else
was afraid of, but his mistress would trust him to perch on her baby's
cot, and snap gently at any flies which settled on the child's face
without waking him. Unluckily this charming gentleman was not always
nice to people whom he did not like, and at last he was obliged to be
placed in a strong cage, from which he easily escaped the next day after
breaking the bars.

* * * * *

Maurice Dupin, the father of Aurore, was aide-de-camp to General Murat,
afterwards King of Naples and Napoleon's brother-in-law. In April 1808,
long before the time of Jonquil and Agatha, when the general was ordered
to Madrid, the Dupins followed him, and they all lived for a time in a
splendid palace belonging to the hated Spanish minister, known as the
'Prince of Peace,' who like his master the king, was now a captive in
France. Here Aurore was very happy. The rooms were large, the passages
long, and you never knew what kind of delightful beast you might not
meet with in one or the other. Perhaps, on the whole, it was most
likely that you would come across a rabbit, as there were so many of
them that they came and went without the slightest attention from
anyone. A beautiful white bunny, with eyes as red as rubies, at once
bade Aurore welcome. He had established himself in the corner of her
bedroom behind the looking-glass, and would come out from there to play
games on the polished floor. When they were both tired, the little
girl--Aurore was then about four--would throw herself into a chair, and
the white rabbit would jump into her lap, and lie quietly there for
hours, while Aurore made up all kinds of interesting stories to amuse
him.

Besides the white rabbit, Aurore greatly admired General Murat
(especially when he wore his uniform) and was quite convinced he was a
fairy prince. Her mother made her a uniform too, not like the general's,
of course, but an exact copy of her father's. It consisted of a white
cashmere vest with sleeves fastened by gold buttons, over which was a
loose pelisse, trimmed with black fur, while the breeches were of yellow
cashmere embroidered with gold. The boots of red morocco had spurs
attached; at her side hung a sabre and round her waist was a sash of
crimson silk cords. In this guise Aurore was presented by Murat to his
friends, but though she was intensely proud of her uniform, the little
aide-de-camp found the fur and the gold very hot and heavy, and was
always thankful to change it for the black silk dress and black mantilla
worn by Spanish children. One does not know in which costume she must
have looked most strange.

Murat, who was a good-natured man, grew very fond of the child, and one
evening when he returned from hunting he went up to the rooms in the
palace occupied by the Dupins bearing in his arms a tiny fawn. Aurore
was sound asleep, for it was nearly midnight, but, followed by her
father and mother, the general entered the room and laid the fawn beside
her on the pillow. The child half-opened her eyes, and seeing the little
head close to her face, put her arm round its neck and dozed off again.
The next morning when she woke up, she found Murat standing by her bed,
for M. Dupin had told him what a pretty picture the two made, and he
wished to see it. The poor little creature--probably not more than a few
days old--had been chased by dogs the previous evening, and though it
had escaped unhurt, which was a marvel, was absolutely worn out, and had
settled itself comfortably to sleep like a kitten. It lay curled up on
Aurore's chest, with its head on the pillow and her arms still remained
round its neck. At the sound of voices she awoke, and rubbed her cheek
against the nose of her bedfellow, who, feeling warm and comfortable and
sure of a friend, licked her hands gratefully. But the little thing
pined for its mother, and though Aurore did her very best to replace
her, it was too late, and early one morning Madame Dupin found the fawn
quite dead under the pile of coverings Aurore had spread over it. She
dared not tell the child what had happened, so she said it had run away
in the night, and was now quite happy with its family in the woods. All
of which Aurore believed.

After a few months spent in Spain, the Dupins returned to Nohant at the
end of August, exhausted by the hardships they had undergone and their
terrible journey. For a few days they had peace and rest; then the
little blind baby died, and, at his mother's express wish, was buried by
his father secretly under a pear-tree in the garden of Nohant. Nine days
later Maurice Dupin mounted a hard-mouthed horse named Leopardo, and
rode off to dine with some friends in the country. On his return
Leopardo stumbled in the darkness over a heap of stones on one side of
the road, and threw his master.


MURAT.]

'Weber! Come quickly! I am dying,' Maurice called to his groom, and it
was true. His back was broken; and though help was speedily got and he
was taken to an inn near by, there was no hope from the first, and he
spoke no more. For the second time in her life, his mother put her feet
on the ground, and walked to meet him as they carried him back to
Nohant. The other occasion was when she awaited him on the road at
Passy, after his release from prison.

The blow was a dreadful one, but the elder Madame Dupin was a woman of
strong and silent courage, and tried to take up her life as usual. She
wished to adopt Aurore entirely, and leave Madame Maurice to take care
of another daughter named Caroline, whom she had had by a former
husband. But Madame Maurice could not bear to part from her younger
child, and as Caroline was at this time in a convent there was no need
to decide the matter at present. In this manner two or three years
slipped past, and Aurore grew strong and healthy in the open air,
playing with any children who came in her way, or, better still, with
any animals she could get hold of.

Among her particular friends at Nohant was a donkey--the best donkey in
the world. Of course, he might have been obstinate and fond of kicking
in his youth, like some other donkeys; but now he was old, very old
indeed, and was a model of good behaviour.

His walk was slow and stately, and, owing to the respect due to his age
and his long service in the house of Madame Dupin, no one either scolded
or corrected him. Every day Aurore and Ursule, the little girl who was
her companion, were placed in panniers on his back, and made what seemed
to them long journeys through the world. On their return home he was
unharnessed, and left to wander where he wished, for nobody ever dreamed
of interfering with him. He might have been met in the village, in the
fields, or in the garden, but always conducting himself as an elderly
gentleman should. Now and then the fancy took him to walk in at Madame
Dupin's front door, from which he would enter the dining-room or even
the lady's private apartments. One day she found him installed in her
dressing-room, sniffing curiously at a box of oris powder. As the doors
were only fastened by a latch after the old custom, he could easily open
them, and could find his way all over the ground floor, which he
generally explored in search of Madame Dupin, for he knew quite well she
would be sure to have something nice for him in her pocket. As to being
laughed at for his odd habits, he was quite indifferent to that, and
listened to the jokes made about him with the air of a philosopher.

One hot night in summer he could not sleep, and a wandering fit seized
him. He passed through a door which had been left open, mounted six or
eight steps, crossed the hall and the kitchen and arrived at Madame
Dupin's bedroom. He tried as usual to lift the latch, but as a bolt had
been put on the inside, he could not get in. He then began to scratch
with his hoofs, but Madame Dupin only thought that it was a thief,
cutting through the door, and rang for her maid violently. The maid,
fearing that her mistress had been taken ill, did not wait even to
obtain a light, but ran along the passage as fast as she could, falling
right over the donkey. The maid set up piercing cries; the donkey
uttered loud hee-haws, and Madame Dupin jumped hastily out of bed to see
what in the world could be happening. It took a good deal to move her
stately composure, but on that occasion she really did allow herself to
smile, if only the maid and the donkey had not been too frightened to
notice it. But when Aurore heard the story next morning, she laughed
more than she had ever done in her life.

So good-bye to her for the present. When we next hear of her, she will
be busy with lessons.





Next: The Trials Of M Deschartres

Previous: Blackskin



Add to del.icio.us Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Del.icio.us Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network
Report
Privacy
SHAREADD TO EBOOK



Viewed: 1029