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Letters from my mill

“There is only one Mistral in the world, the one I surprised last Sunday in his village, the felt hood over my ear, no waistcoat, no gown, his Catalan red taillole around his loins, the eye lit, the fire of inspiration to the cheekbones,
superb, with a good smile, elegant as a Greek shepherd, and walking with great strides, hands in his pockets, making verses….

Farandole under the almond trees in bloom in the Alpilles
-How, it’s you! cried Mistral, hugging me! what a good idea you had to come! Just today is the party in Maillane. We have the music of Avignon, the bulls, the procession, the farandole, it will be magnificent… The mother is coming home from mass; we’ll have lunch, and then, zou! we are going to see the pretty girls dancing.

While he was talking to me I looked with emotion at this small living room with light upholstery, which I had not seen for so long, and where I spent such beautiful hours! Nothing was changed. Still the yellow-checkered sofa, the two straw armchairs, the armless Venus and the Venus of Arles, on the fireplace, the portrait of the poet by Hébert, his photograph by Etienne Carjat, and, in a corner, near the window, the office – a poor little office for a registrar, – loaded with old books and dictionaries. In the middle of this desk, I saw a big open notebook …. It was Calendal …. I held Calendal’s notebook in my hands and leafed through it, full of emotion …

Suddenly a music of fifes and tambourines bursts out in the street, in front of the window, and here is my Mistral running to the cupboard, pulling out glasses, bottles, dragging the table in the middle of the living room, and opening the door. to the musicians by telling me:

-Don’t laugh… they’re coming to give me the waterfall, I’m a city councilor.

The small room fills with people. The tambourines are placed on the chairs, the old banner in a corner, and the cooked wine is circulated. Then when we emptied a few bottles to the health of Mr. Frédéric Mistral, which we seriously discussed about the party, if the farandole will be as beautiful as last year, if the bulls will behave well, the musicians retire and go give the bark to the other counselors. At this moment Mistral’s mother arrives…. “

Frédéric Mistral and his wife
in their garden in Maillane

Alphonse Daudet
“Letters from my mill”


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