“It was an ill-considered measure,” said my father, slowly.
“Ill-conducted, rather,” said M. Bourdinave. “The act should have been simultaneous; whereas the want of concert among our people betrayed their weakness, and laid them open to attack. The military at Bordeaux acted with shocking barbarity.”
“I do not like to think upon it,” said my father. “I trust there will be no recurrence of such lamentable scenes.”
“I much fear there will be, though,” said M. Bourdinave, gloomily. “Satan desires to have us, that he may sift us like wheat. Let us hope to abide the trial.”
At this moment a burst of noisy music, drowned their voices; and the needle-seller’s horse, which was just before us, making a sudden start, the poor needle-vendor was thrown off his balance, and jerked out of his cart on to a heap of flints by the road-side, while his horse began to kick. Giving the reins to my father, I jumped out, and ran to his assistance; but he was so prickly all over, that it was difficult to lay hold of him. His needles and pins ran into my fingers in a dozen places. To make matters worse, his nose began to bleed, so that he was in a pitiable plight. However, I picked him up at last, found he was not seriously injured, gave him a clean handkerchief (which he promised to return), and started him off again in his cart, in a sitting position this time, and much crestfallen.
The throng increased as we approached Beaucaire, and when we got into the streets there was frequently a complete stoppage. Oh, what a lively scene it was! and what a noise! Music playing, bells ringing, people talking at the top of their voices. What joyous meetings I what hearty welcomes! what various smells of fried fish, hot soups, and roast meats! Truly, the Fair of Beaucaire exceeded my liveliest imaginings, and yours will certainly never come up to it.
The fair, you have perhaps heard, is held on a wide open ground between the Rhone and the castle rock. This space was covered with streets of booths and sheds, in which all kinds of merchandise were displayed. The river was choked with heavily-freighted barges. As for the streets, they were hung from their upper windows with the richest tapestries; silks, damasks, velvets, and goldsmiths’ work were displayed in the richest abundance; the most costly valuables exposed, almost at the mercy of jostling wayfarers; banners flaunting overhead, and casting fleeting shadows beneath. Languages of all nations mingled in strange medley—German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Arabic, Russian. Ah, it was like a dream!