Chateau and Country Life in France eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 229 pages of information about Chateau and Country Life in France.
when one must have light for work of any kind, the petroleum lamp is a godsend.  We often noticed the difference coming home late.  The smallest hamlets looked quite cheerful with the bright lights shining through the cracks and windows.  I can’t speak much from personal experience of the inside of the cottages—­I was never much given to visiting among the poor.  I suppose I did not take it in the right spirit, but I could never see the poetry, the beautiful, patient lives, the resignation to their humble lot.  I only saw the dirt, and smelt all the bad smells, and heard how bad most of the young ones were to all the poor old people.  “Cela mange comme quatre, et cela n’est plus bon a rien,” I heard one woman remark casually to her poor old father sitting huddled up in a heap near the fire.  I don’t know, either, whether they liked to have us come.  What suited them best was to send the children to the chateau.  They always got a meal and a warm jacket and petticoat.

[Illustration:  Peasant women.]

V

CEREMONIES AND FESTIVALS

We were very particular about attending all important ceremonies at La Ferte, as we rarely went to church there except on great occasions.  We had our service regularly at the chateau every Sunday morning.  All the servants, except ours, were Protestants, Swiss generally, and very respectable they looked—­all the women in black dresses and white caps—­when they assembled in M. A.’s library, sitting on cane chairs near the door.

Some, in fact most, Protestants in France attach enormous importance to having all their household Protestant.  A friend of mine, a Protestant, having tea with me one day in Paris was rather pleased with the bread or little “croissants,” and asked me where they came from.  I said I didn’t know, but would ask the butler.  That rather surprised her.  Then she said, “Your baker of course is a Protestant.”  That I didn’t know either, and, what was much worse in her eyes, I didn’t care.  She was quite distressed, gave me the address of an excellent Swiss Protestant baker and begged me to sever all connection with the Catholic at once.  I asked her if she really thought dangerous papist ideas were kneaded in with the bread, but she would not listen to my mild “persiflage,” and went away rather anxious about my spiritual welfare.

We went always to the church at La Ferte for the fete of St. Cecile, as the Fanfare played in the church on that day.  The Fanfare was a very important body.  Nearly all the prominent citizens of La Ferte, who had any idea of music, were members—­the butcher, the baker, the coiffeur, etc.  The Mayor was president and walked at the head of the procession when they filed into the church.  I was “Presidente d’Honneur” and always wore my badge pinned conspicuously on my coat.  It was a great day for the little town.  Weeks before the fete we used

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Chateau and Country Life in France from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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