Page:Memoirs of Vidocq, Volume 1.djvu/25

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has become more enlightened, how many men, and those far from being old women, would bet on the infallibility of Miss Lenormand!

However that may be, we will presume that the sky was not troubled on my special account; and although there is always something very attractive in the marvellous, I am far from thinking that the turbulence of the elements had much reference to my birth. I had a most robust constitution, and there was plenty of me, so that as soon as I was born they took me for a child of two years of age; and I gave tokens of that athletic figure, that colossal form, which have since struck terror into the most hardened and powerful ruffians. My father's house being situated in the Place d'Armes, the constant resort of all the blackguards of the vicinity, I had my muscular powers early called into action, in regularly thrashing my comrades, whose parents were regularly complaining of me to my father and mother. At home nothing was talked of but torn ears, black eyes and rent garments; at eight years of age, I was the terror of all the dogs, cats, and children of the neighbourhood; at thirteen I handled a foil sufficiently well not to be defeated in an attack. My father perceiving that I associated chiefly with the military of the garrison, was alarmed for me, and desired me to prepare myself for the first receiving of the communion: two devotees undertook to prepare me for this solemn duty. God knows what fruit I have gathered from their lessons. I began at the same time to learn the trade of a baker, which was my father's business, in which he intended that I should succeed him, although I had an elder brother.

My employment principally consisted in carrying bread through the city. During my rounds I made frequent visits to the fencing-rooms, of which my parents were not long in ignorance; but the cooks all gave such testimony of my politeness and punctuality that they winked at this trifling prank. This went on