** Blue Wind ** - 『レ・ミゼラブル』の青空翻訳 -

VIII. In which the Reader will find a Charming Saying of the Last King

2004/01/13 (Tue)


In summer, he metamorphoses himself into a frog; and in the evening,
when night is falling, in front of the bridges of Austerlitz and Jena,
from the tops of coal wagons, and the washerwomen's boats, he hurls
himself headlong into the Seine, and into all possible infractions
of the laws of modesty and of the police. Nevertheless the
police keep an eye on him, and the result is a highly dramatic
situation which once gave rise to a fraternal and memorable cry;
that cry which was celebrated about 1830, is a strategic warning
from gamin to gamin; it scans like a verse from Homer, with a
notation as inexpressible as the eleusiac chant of the Panathenaea,
and in it one encounters again the ancient Evohe. Here it is:
"Ohe, Titi, oheee! Here comes the bobby, here comes the p'lice,
pick up your duds and be off, through the sewer with you!"

Sometimes this gnat--that is what he calls himself--knows how to read;
sometimes he knows how to write; he always knows how to daub.
He does not hesitate to acquire, by no one knows what mysterious
mutual instruction, all the talents which can be of use to the public;
from 1815 to 1830, he imitated the cry of the turkey; from 1830
to 1848, he scrawled pears on the walls. One summer evening,
when Louis Philippe was returning home on foot, he saw a little fellow,
no higher than his knee, perspiring and climbing up to draw a gigantic
pear in charcoal on one of the pillars of the gate of Neuilly;
the King, with that good-nature which came to him from Henry IV.,
helped the gamin, finished the pear, and gave the child a louis,
saying: "The pear is on that also."[19] The gamin loves uproar.
A certain state of violence pleases him. He execrates "the cures."
One day, in the Rue de l'Universite, one of these scamps was putting
his thumb to his nose at the carriage gate of No. 69. "Why are you
doing that at the gate?" a passer-by asked. The boy replied:
"There is a cure there." It was there, in fact, that the Papal
Nuncio lived.

[19] Louis XVIII. is represented in comic pictures of that day
as having a pear-shaped head.

Nevertheless, whatever may be the Voltairianism of the small gamin,
if the occasion to become a chorister presents itself, it is
quite possible that he will accept, and in that case he serves
the mass civilly. There are two things to which he plays Tantalus,
and which he always desires without ever attaining them:
to overthrow the government, and to get his trousers sewed up again.

The gamin in his perfect state possesses all the policemen of Paris,
and can always put the name to the face of any one which he chances
to meet. He can tell them off on the tips of his fingers.
He studies their habits, and he has special notes on each one
of them. He reads the souls of the police like an open book.
He will tell you fluently and without flinching: "Such an one
is a traitor; such another is very malicious; such another
is great; such another is ridiculous." (All these words:
traitor, malicious, great, ridiculous, have a particular meaning
in his mouth.) That one imagines that he owns the Pont-Neuf, and he
prevents people from walking on the cornice outside the parapet;
that other has a mania for pulling person's ears; etc., etc.


- Genesis -