** Blue Wind ** - 『レ・ミゼラブル』の青空翻訳 -

V. At Bombardas

2004/01/12 (Mon)


The Russian mountains having been exhausted, they began to think about
dinner; and the radiant party of eight, somewhat weary at last, became
stranded in Bombarda's public house, a branch establishment which had been
set up in the Champs-Elysees by that famous restaurant-keeper, Bombarda,
whose sign could then be seen in the Rue de Rivoli, near Delorme Alley.

A large but ugly room, with an alcove and a bed at the end (they
had been obliged to put up with this accommodation in view of the
Sunday crowd); two windows whence they could survey beyond the elms,
the quay and the river; a magnificent August sunlight lightly
touching the panes; two tables; upon one of them a triumphant
mountain of bouquets, mingled with the hats of men and women;
at the other the four couples seated round a merry confusion
of platters, dishes, glasses, and bottles; jugs of beer mingled
with flasks of wine; very little order on the table, some disorder
beneath it;

"They made beneath the table
A noise, a clatter of the feet that was abominable,"

says Moliere.

This was the state which the shepherd idyl, begun at five o'clock
in the morning, had reached at half-past four in the afternoon.
The sun was setting; their appetites were satisfied.

The Champs-Elysees, filled with sunshine and with people, were nothing
but light and dust, the two things of which glory is composed.
The horses of Marly, those neighing marbles, were prancing in
a cloud of gold. Carriages were going and coming. A squadron
of magnificent body-guards, with their clarions at their head,
were descending the Avenue de Neuilly; the white flag, showing faintly
rosy in the setting sun, floated over the dome of the Tuileries.
The Place de la Concorde, which had become the Place Louis XV.
once more, was choked with happy promenaders. Many wore the silver
fleur-de-lys suspended from the white-watered ribbon, which had
not yet wholly disappeared from button-holes in the year 1817.
Here and there choruses of little girls threw to the winds,
amid the passersby, who formed into circles and applauded, the then
celebrated Bourbon air, which was destined to strike the Hundred
Days with lightning, and which had for its refrain:--

"Rendez-nous notre pere de Gand,
Rendez-nous notre pere."

"Give us back our father from Ghent,
Give us back our father."

Groups of dwellers in the suburbs, in Sunday array, sometimes even
decorated with the fleur-de-lys, like the bourgeois, scattered over
the large square and the Marigny square, were playing at rings
and revolving on the wooden horses; others were engaged in drinking;
some journeyman printers had on paper caps; their laughter was audible.
Every thing was radiant. It was a time of undisputed peace
and profound royalist security; it was the epoch when a special
and private report of Chief of Police Angeles to the King,
on the subject of the suburbs of Paris, terminated with these lines:--

"Taking all things into consideration, Sire, there is nothing to be
feared from these people. They are as heedless and as indolent as cats.
The populace is restless in the provinces; it is not in Paris.
These are very pretty men, Sire. It would take all of two of them
to make one of your grenadiers. There is nothing to be feared on
the part of the populace of Paris the capital. It is remarkable
that the stature of this population should have diminished in the
last fifty years; and the populace of the suburbs is still more
puny than at the time of the Revolution. It is not dangerous.
In short, it is an amiable rabble."

Prefects of the police do not deem it possible that a cat can transform
itself into a lion; that does happen, however, and in that lies
the miracle wrought by the populace of Paris. Moreover, the cat so
despised by Count Angles possessed the esteem of the republics of old.
In their eyes it was liberty incarnate; and as though to serve
as pendant to the Minerva Aptera of the Piraeus, there stood on
the public square in Corinth the colossal bronze figure of a cat.
The ingenuous police of the Restoration beheld the populace of Paris
in too "rose-colored" a light; it is not so much of "an amiable rabble"
as it is thought. The Parisian is to the Frenchman what the Athenian
was to the Greek: no one sleeps more soundly than he, no one is
more frankly frivolous and lazy than he, no one can better assume
the air of forgetfulness; let him not be trusted nevertheless;
he is ready for any sort of cool deed; but when there is glory at
the end of it, he is worthy of admiration in every sort of fury.
Give him a pike, he will produce the 10th of August; give him a gun,
you will have Austerlitz. He is Napoleon's stay and Danton's resource.
Is it a question of country, he enlists; is it a question of liberty,
he tears up the pavements. Beware! his hair filled with wrath, is epic;
his blouse drapes itself like the folds of a chlamys. Take care! he
will make of the first Rue Grenetat which comes to hand Caudine Forks.
When the hour strikes, this man of the faubourgs will grow in stature;
this little man will arise, and his gaze will be terrible, and his
breath will become a tempest, and there will issue forth from that
slender chest enough wind to disarrange the folds of the Alps.
It is, thanks to the suburban man of Paris, that the Revolution,
mixed with arms, conquers Europe. He sings; it is his delight.
Proportion his song to his nature, and you will see! As long as he
has for refrain nothing but la Carmagnole, he only overthrows
Louis XVI.; make him sing the Marseillaise, and he will free
the world.

This note jotted down on the margin of Angles' report, we will return
to our four couples. The dinner, as we have said, was drawing
to its close.


- Genesis -