Page:Crainquebille, Putois, Riquet and other profitable tales, 1915.djvu/50

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36
CRAINQUEBILLE

"Cabbages, turnips, carrots!" An old house wife, who had come up, said to him as she felt his celery:

"What’s happened to you, Père Crainquebille? We haven’t seen you for three weeks. Have you been ill? You look rather pale."

"I’ll tell you, M’ame Mailloche, I’ve been doing the gentleman."

Nothing in his life changed, except that he went oftener to the pub, because he had an idea it was a holiday and that he had made the acquaintance of charitable folk. He returned to his garret rather gay. Stretched on his mattress he drew over him the sacks borrowed from the chestnut-seller at the corner which served him as blankets and he pondered: "Well, prison is not so bad; one has everything one wants there. But all the same one is better at home."

His contentment did not last long. He soon perceived that his customers looked at him askance.

"Fine celery, M’ame Cointreau!"

"I don’t want anything."

"What! nothing! do you live on air then? "

And M’ame Cointreau without deigning to reply returned to the large bakery of which she was the mistress. The shopkeepers and caretakers, who had once flocked round his barrow all green and bloom-