Author: Alphonse Daudet
Release Date: August, 1999 [EBook #1862]
[This file was last updated on January 24, 2003]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** Start of the project gutenberg EBOOK Tartarin of Tarascon ***
Tartarin of Tarascon
I. The Garden Round the Giant Trees.
My first visit to Tartarin of Tarascon has remained a never-to-be-forgotten date in my life; although quite ten or a dozen years ago, I remember it better than yesterday.
At that time the intrepid Tartarin lived in the third house on the left as the town begins, on the Avignon road. A pretty little villa in the local style, with a front garden and a balcony behind, the walls glaringly white and the venetians very green; and always about the doorsteps a brood of little Savoyard shoeblackguards playing hopscotch, or dozing in the broad sunshine with their heads pillowed on their boxes.
Outwardly the dwelling had no remarkable features, and none would ever believe it the abode of a hero; but when you stepped inside, ye gods and little fishes! what a change! From turret to foundation-stone — I mean, from cellar to garret, — the whole building wore a heroic front; even so the garden!
O that garden of Tartarin’s! there’s not its match in Europe! Not a native tree was there — not one flower of France; nothing hut exotic plants, gum-trees, gourds, cotton-woods, cocoa and cacao, mangoes, bananas, palms, a baobab, nopals, cacti, Barbary figs — well, you would believe yourself in the very midst of Central Africa, ten thousand leagues away. It is but fair to say that these were none of full growth; indeed, the cocoa-palms were no bigger than beet root and the baobab (arbos gigantea — “giant tree,” you know) was easily enough circumscribed by a window-pot; but, notwithstanding this, it was rather a sensation for Tarascon, and the townsfolk who were admitted on Sundays to the honour of contemplating Tartarin’s baobab, went home chokeful of admiration.
Try to conceive my own emotion, which I was bound to feel on that day of days when I crossed through this marvellous garden, and that was capped when I was ushered into the hero’s sanctum.
His study, one of the lions — I should say, lions’ dens — of the town, was at the end of the garden, its glass door opening right on to the baobab.