He was soon at the gates of the town in front of a magnificent residence. There was laughter and chatter within for they were giving a feast, one to which the poor were not invited. The poet recognized the house, as that of an old friend of his, a rich and celebrated artist. He stopped to listen to the conversation before the latticed gate of the park through which fountains and statues could be seen. He recognized the voice of a woman. She was beautiful, and once had broken his boyish heart. She was saying:
“Do you remember the great poet, Laurent Laurini?...They say he has made a mesalliance, and has married a cowherd....”
* * * * *
Tears rose to his eyes, and he continued his way through the streets of the town until he came to the house where he was born. The paving-stones replied softly to the words of his tired steps. He pushed open his door and entered. And his old dog, faithful and gentle as ever, ran limpingly to meet him; it barked with joy, and licked his hand. He saw that since his departure the poor beast had had some sort of stroke or paralysis, for time and trouble afflict the bodies of animals as well.
Laurent Laurini mounted the stairs, keeping close to the bannisters, and he was deeply moved, when he saw the old cat turn around, arch her back, raise her tail, and rub against the steps. On the landing the clock struck, as if in gratitude.
He entered her room gently. He saw his mother on her knees praying. She was saying:
“Dear God, I pray unto Thee, that my son may still be among the living. Oh my God, he has suffered much...Where is he? Forgive me for this that I have given him birth. Forgive him for this that he is causing me to die.”
Then he knelt down beside her, laying his young lips on her poor gray hair, and said:
“Come with me. I am healed. I know a land where there are trees and corn and waters, where quails sing, where the looms of the weavers fall, where the telegraph wires hum, where a poor woman dwells who holds my heart, and where your grandson is playing.”
Once upon a time there was a very industrious workman who had a good wife and a charming little daughter. They lived in a great city.
It was the father’s birthday and to celebrate it they bought beautiful white salad and a chicken made for roasting. Every one was happy that Sunday morning, even the little cat that looked slyly at the fowl, saying to herself: “I shall have good bones to pick.”
After they had eaten breakfast, the father said:
“We are going to be extravagant for once, and ride in a tram to the suburbs.”
They went out.
They had many times seen well-dressed men and beautiful ladies give a signal to the driver of the tram, who immediately stopped his horses to permit them to get on.