fragrance of the omelettes, and the flavor of the wine that my father used to taste critically—so proud of guessing its year! Then suddenly, as if nearing a village, the train slackened speed before an old house of vaguely seigneurial aspect; I recalled, as clear as sight, a young girl in a white gown, very blond and rosy, whom I had seen one of those Sundays, on the terrace of that house, seated in the shadow of hundred-year-old chestnut trees, and of whom I had dreamed. Ah! how many such trifles embroider their little imperceptible dots on the canvas of life. How many minute recollections are engraved upon us so forcibly that time cannot efface them, and one may always find, under the strata of years, the pattern of their deep lines. While the hours thus filled were passing, they seemed irksome to me, and took their course without leaving any impression of delight. Now, from afar, they developed an unsuspected charm.
If I could only call them back, just as they were, for the moment needed to fix them again in mind!
If I could only pass along one of these roads, that interlace across the fields, skirting the farm walls, and running through clumps of trees or villages, I in my schoolboy blouse, my soul untarnished, my hand in my good father's hand!
It is a barren and cowardly prayer. I well know that nothing goes back to its beginning,