The young man, as I have said, was smoking a new pipe.
But I have forgotten to say that he had an old spaniel of whom he was very fond and whose name was Thomas.
A very great illness had fallen on Thomas, since the good mother’s and the good father’s deaths. When he was called he could barely drag himself along by the paws of his fore-legs.
One day a man of the world took residence in the little village where the young man was smoking a new pipe. He wore decorations and was distinguished and spoke with an agreeable accent. They became acquainted, and once, when the young man still smoking his new pipe entered his house unexpectedly, he found this fine fellow abed with his pretty wife whose firm and smooth breasts were like two ripe apples.
The young man said nothing. He placed a poor old collar around the neck of Thomas, and with a line which his mother had once used to hang clothes upon, he dragged him along to a huge town, where the two dwelled together in sorrow and want.
The young man had now become an old man, but he was still smoking his new pipe which too had become old.
One evening Thomas died. People came from the police department, and carried off his carcass somewhere.
The old man was now all alone with his old pipe. A great cold fell upon him and a terrible trembling. And he knew that his time had come, and that he never would be able to smoke again. So from the wretched bag which he once had brought with him from his home, he took a sad old hat, and in this he wrapped his pipe.
Then he threw a cape, greenish with age, about his feverish shoulders, and dragged himself painfully to a little square near by, taking care that no policeman should see him. He knelt down, and dug in the earth with his finger nails, and devoutly buried his old pipe underneath a tuft of flowers. Then he returned to his dwelling-place and died.
MAL DE VIVRE
A poet, Laurent Laurini by name, was sick unto death with the illness, called weariness of life. It is a terrible malady, and those who have fallen prey to it are unable to look upon men, animals, and things without frightful suffering. Great scruples poison his heart.
The poet went away from the town where he dwelled. He sought out the fields to gaze at the trees and the corn and the waters, to listen to the quails that sing like fountains and to the falling of the weavers’ looms and the hum of the telegraph wires. These things and these sounds saddened him.
The gentlest thoughts were bitterness to him. And when he picked a little flower in order to escape his terrible malady, he wept because he had plucked it.
He entered a village on an evening sweet with the perfume of pears. It was a beautiful village like those he had often described in his books. There was a town square, a church, a cemetery, gardens, a smithy, and a dark inn. Blue smoke rose from it, and within was the sheen of glasses. There was also a stream which wound in and out under the wild nut-trees.