The Lost Child
by Francois Edouard Joachim Coppee
Translated by J. Matthewman
On that morning, which was the morning before Christmas, two
important events happened simultaneouslythe sun rose, and so did M.
Unquestionably the sun, illuminating suddenly the whole of Paris
with its morning rays, is an old friend regarded with affection by
everybody, It is particularly welcome after a fortnight of misty
atmosphere and gray skies, when the wind has cleared the air and
allowed the sun's rays to reach the earth again. Besides all of which
the sun is a person of importance. Formerly, he was regarded as a god,
and was called Osiris, Apollyon, and I don't know what else. But do not
imagine that because the sun is so important he is of greater influence
than M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy, millionaire banker, director of the
Comptoir Général de Crédit, administrator of several big companies,
deputy and member of the General Counsel of the Eure, officer of the
Legion of Honor, etc., etc. And whatever opinion the sun may have about
himself, he certainly has not a higher opinion than M. Jean-Baptiste
Godefroy has of him_self. So we are authorized to state, and we
consider ourselves justified in stating, that on the morning in
question, at about a quarter to eight, the sun and M. Jean-Baptiste
Certainly the manner of rising of these two great powers mentioned
was not the same. The good old sun began by doing a great many pretty
actions. As the sleet had, during the night, covered the bare branches
of the trees in the boulevard Malesherbes, where the hôtel
Godefroy is situated, with a powdered coating, the great magician sun
amused himself by transforming the branches into great bouquets of red
coral. At the same time he scattered his rays impartially on those poor
passers-by whom necessity sent out, so early in the morning, to gain
their daily bread, He even had a smile for the poor clerk, who, in a
thin overcoat, was hurrying to his office, as well as for the
grisette, shivering under her thin, insufficient clothing; for the
workman carrying half a loaf under his arm, for the car-conductor as he
punched the tickets, and for the dealer in roast chestnuts, who was
roasting his first panful. In short, the sun gave pleasure to everybody
in the world. M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy, on the contrary, rose in quite
a different frame of mind. On the previous evening he had dined with
the Minister for Agriculture. The dinner, from the removal of the
potage to the salad, bristled with truffles, and the banker's
stomach, aged forty-seven years, experienced the burning and biting of
pyrosis. So the manner in which M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy rang for his
valet-de-chambre was so expressive that, as he got some warm water for
his master's shaving, Charles said to the kitchen-maid:
There he goes! The monkey is barbarously ill-tempered again this
morning. My poor Gertrude, we're going to have a miserable day.
Whereupon, walking on tiptoe, with eyes modestly cast down, he
entered the chamber of his master, opened the curtains, lit the fire,
and made all the necessary preparations for the toilet with the
discreet demeanor and respectful gestures of a sacristan placing the
sacred vessels on the altar for the priest.
What sort of weather this morning? demanded M. Godefroy curtly, as
he buttoned his undervest of gray swandown upon a stomach that was
already a little too prominent.
Very cold, sir, replied Charles meekly. At six o'clock the
thermometer marked seven degrees above zero. But, as you will see, sir,
the sky is quite clear, and I think we are going to have a fine
In stropping his razor, M. Godefroy approached the window, drew
aside one of the hangings, looked on the boulevard, which was bathed in
brightness, and made a slight grimace which bore some resemblance to a
It is all very well to be perfectly stiff and correct, and to know
that it is bad taste to show feeling of any kind in the presence of
domestics, but the appearance of the roguish sun in the middle of
December sends such a glow of warmth to the heart that it is impossible
to disguise the fact. So M. Godefroy deigned, as before observed, to
smile. If some one had whispered to the opulent banker that his smile
had anything in common with that of the printer's boy, who was enjoying
himself by making a slide on the pavement, M. Godefroy would have been
highly incensed. But it really was so all the same; and during the
space of one minute this man who was so occupied by business matters,
this leading light in the financial and political worlds, indulged in
the childish pastime of watching the passers-by, and following with his
eyes the files of conveyances as they gaily rolled in the sunshine.
But pray do not be alarmed. Such a weakness could not last long.
People of no account, and those who have nothing to do, may be able to
let their time slip by in doing nothing. It is very well for women,
children, poets, and riffraff. M. Godefroy had other fish to fry; and
the work of the day which was commencing promised to be exceptionally
heavy. From half-past eight to ten o'clock he had a meeting at his
office with a certain number of gentlemen, all of whom bore a striking
resemblance to M. Godefroy. Like him, they were very nervous; they had
risen with the sun, they were all blasés, and they all had the
same object in viewto gain money. After breakfast (which he took
after the meeting), M. Godefroy had to leap into his carriage and rush
to the Bourse, to exchange a few words with other gentlemen who had
also risen at dawn, but who had not the least spark of imagination
among them. (The conversations were always on the same subjectmoney.)
From there, without losing an instant, M. Godefroy went to preside over
another meeting of acquaintances entirely void of compassion and
tenderness. The meeting was held round a baize-covered table, which was
strewn with heaps of papers and well provided with ink-wells. The
conversation again turned on money, and various methods of gaining it.
After the aforesaid meeting he, in his capacity of deputy, had to
appear before several commissions (always held in rooms where there
were baize-covered tables and ink-wells and heaps of papers). There he
found men as devoid of sentiment as he was, all utterly incapable of
neglecting any occasion of gaining money, but who, nevertheless, had
the extreme goodness to sacrifice several hours of the afternoon to the
glory of France.
After having quickly shaved he donned a morning suit, the elegant
cut and finish of which showed that the old beau of nearly fifty had
not ceased trying to please. When he shaved he spared the narrow strip
of pepper-and-salt beard round his chin, as it gave him the air of a
trust-worthy family man in the eyes of the Arrogants and of fools in
general. Then he descended to his cabinet, where he received the file
of men who were entirely occupied by one thoughtthat of augmenting
their capital. These gentlemen discussed several projected enterprises,
all of them of considerable importance, notably that of a new railroad
to be laid across a wild desert. Another scheme was for the founding of
monster works in the environs of Paris, another of a mine to be worked
in one of the South American republics. It goes without saying that no
one asked if the railway would have passengers or goods to carry, or if
the proposed works should manufacture cotton nightcaps or distil
whisky; whether the mine was to be of virgin gold or of second-rate
copper: certainly not. The conversation of M. Godefroy's morning
callers turned exclusively upon the profits which it would be possible
to realize during the week which should follow the issue of the shares.
They discussed particularly the values of the shares, which they knew
would be destined before long to be worth less than the paper on which
they were printed in fine style.
These conversations, bristling with figures, lasted till ten o'clock
precisely, and then the director of the Comptoir Général de Crédit, who, by the way, was an honest manat least, as honest as is to be
found in businesscourteously conducted his last visitor to the head
of the stairway. The visitor named was an old villain, as rich as
Croesus, who, by a not uncommon chance, enjoyed the general esteem of
the public; whereas, had justice been done to him, he would have been
lodging at the expense of the State in one of those large
establishments provided by a thoughtful government for smaller
delinquents; and there he would have pursued a useful and healthy
calling for a lengthy period, the exact length having been fixed by the
judges of the supreme court. But M. Godefroy showed him out
relentlessly, notwithstanding his importanceit was absolutely
necessary to be at the Bourse at 11 o'clockand went into the
It was a luxuriously furnished room. The furniture and plate would
have served to endow a cathedral. Nevertheless, notwithstanding that M.
Godefroy took a gulp of bicarbonate of soda, his indigestion refused to
subside, consequently the banker could only take the scantiest
breakfastthat of a dyspeptic. In the midst of such luxury, and under
the eye of a well-paid butler, M. Godefroy could only eat a couple of
boiled eggs and nibble a little mutton chop. The man of money trifled
with desserttook only a crumb of Roquefortnot more than two cents'
worth. Then the door opened and an overdressed but charming little
childyoung Raoul, four years oldthe son of the company director,
entered the room, accompanied by his German nursery governess.
This event occurred every day at the same houra quarter to eleven,
precisely, while the carriage which was to take the banker to the
Bourse was awaiting the gentleman who had only a quarter of an hour to
give to paternal sentiment. It was not that he did not love his son. He
did love himnay, he adored him, in his own particular way. But then,
you know, business is business.
At the age of forty-two, when already worldly-wise and blasé,
he had fancied himself in love with the daughter of one of his club
friendsMarquis de Neufontaine, an old rascala nobleman, but one
whose card-playing was more than open to suspicion, and who would have
been expelled from the club more than once but for the influence of M.
Godefroy, The nobleman was only too happy to become the father-in-law
of a man who would pay his debts, and without any scruples he handed
over his daughtera simple and ingenuous child of seventeen, who was
taken from a convent to be marriedto the worldly banker. The girl was
certainly sweet and pretty, but she had no dowry except numerous
aristocratic prejudices and romantic illusions, and her father thought
he was fortunate in getting rid of her on such favorable terms. M.
Godefroy, who was the son of an avowed old miser of Andelys, had always
remained a man of the people, and intensely vulgar. In spite of his
improved circumstances, he had not improved. His entire lack of tact
and refinement was painful to his young wife, whose tenderest feelings
he ruthlessly and thoughtlessly trampled upon. Things were looking
unpromising, when, happily for her, Madame Godefroy died in giving
birth to her firstborn. When he spoke of his deceased wife, the banker
waxed poetical, although had she lived they would have been divorced in
six months. His son he loved dearly for several reasonsfirst, because
the child was an only son; secondly, because he was a scion of two such
houses as Godefroy and Neufontaine; finally, because the man of money
had naturally great respect for the heir to many millions. So the
youngster had golden rattles and other similar toys, and was brought up
like a young Dauphin. But his father, overwhelmed with business
worries, could never give the child more than fifteen minutes per day
of his precious timeand, as on the day mentioned, it was always
during cheeseand for the rest of the day the father abandoned the
child to the care of the servants.
Good morning, Raoul.
Good morning, papa.
And the company director, having put his serviette away, sat young
Raoul on his left knee, took the child's head between his big paws, and
in stroking and kissing it actually forgot all his money matters and
even his note of the afternoon, which was of great importance to him,
as by it he could gain quite an important amount of patronage.
Papa, said little Raoul suddenly, will Father Christmas put
anything in my shoe tonight?
The father answered with Yes, if you are a good child. This was
very striking from a man who was a pronounced freethinker, who always
applauded every anti-clerical attack in the Chamber with a vigorous
Hear, hear. He made a mental note that he must buy some toys for his
child that very afternoon.
Then he turned to the nursery governess with:
Are you quite satisfied with Raoul, Mademoiselle Bertha?
Mademoiselle Bertha became as red as a peony at being addressed, as
if the question were scarcely comme il faut, and replied by a
little imbecile snigger, which seemed fully to satisfy M. Godefroy's
curiosity about his son's conduct.
It's fine to-day, said the financier, but cold. If you take Raoul
to Monceau Park, mademoiselle, please be careful to wrap him up well.
Mademoiselle, by a second fit of idiotic smiling, having set at rest
M. Godefroy's doubts and fears on that essential point, he kissed his
child, left the room hastily, and in the hall was enveloped in his fur
coat by Charles, who also closed the carriage door. Then the faithful
fellow went off to the café which he frequented, Rue de Miromesnil,
where he had promised to meet the coachman of the baroness who lived
opposite, to play a game of billiards, thirty upand spot-barred, of
Thanks to the brown bayfor which a thousand francs over and above
its value was paid by M. Godefroy as a result of a sumptuous snail
supper given to that gentleman's coachman by the horse-dealerthanks
to the expensive brown bay which certainly went well, the financier was
able to get through his many engagements satisfactorily. He appeared
punctually at the Bourse, sat at several committee tables, and at a
quarter to five, by voting with the ministry, he helped to reassure
France and Europe that the rumors of a ministerial crisis had been
totally unfounded. He voted with the ministry because he had succeeded
in obtaining the favors which he demanded as the price of his vote.
After he had thus nobly fulfilled his duty to himself and his
country, M. Godefroy remembered what he had said to his child on the
subject of Father Christmas, and gave his coachman the address of a
dealer in toys. There he bought, and had put in his carriage, a
fantastic rocking-horse, mounted on castersa whip in each ear; a box
of leaden soldiersall as exactly alike as those grenadiers of the
Russian regiment of the time of Paul I, who all had black hair and snub
noses; and a score of other toys, all equally striking and costly.
Then, as he returned home, softly reposing in his well-swung carriage,
the rich banker, who, after all, was a father, began to think with
pride of his little boy and to form plans for his future.
When the child grew up he should have an education worthy of a
prince, and he would be one, too, for there was no longer any
aristocracy except that of money, and his boy would have a capital of
about 80,000,000 francs.
If his father, a pettifogging provincial lawyer, who had formerly
dined in the Latin Quarter when in Paris, who had remarked every
evening when putting on a white tie that he looked as fine as if he
were going to a weddingif he had been able to accumulate an enormous
fortune, and to become thereby a power in the republic; if he had been
able to obtain in marriage a young lady, one of whose ancestors had
fallen at Marignano, what an important personage little Raoul might
become. M. Godefroy built all sorts of air-castles for his boy,
forgetting that Christmas is the birthday of a very poor little child,
son of a couple of vagrants, born in a stable, where the parents only
found lodging through charity.
In the midst of the banker's dreams the coachman cried: Door,
please, and drove into the yard. As he went up the steps M. Godefroy
was thinking that he had barely time to dress for dinner; but on
entering the vestibule he found all the domestics crowded in front of
him in a state of alarm and confusion. In a corner, crouching on a
seat, was the German nursery-governess, crying. When she saw the banker
she buried her face in her hands and wept still more copiously than
before. M. Godefroy felt that some misfortune had happened.
What's the meaning of all this? What's amiss? What has happened?
Charles, the valet de chambre, a sneaking rascal of the worst
type, looked at his master with eyes full of pity and stammered: Mr.
Lost, sir. The stupid German did it. Since four o'clock this
afternoon he has not been seen.
The father staggered back like one who had been hit by a ball. The
German threw herself at his feet, screaming: Mercy, mercy! and the
domestics all spoke at the same time.
Bertha didn't go to parc Monceau. She lost the child over
there on the fortifications. We have sought him all over, sir. We went
to the office for you, sir, and then to the Chamber, but you had just
left. Just imagine, the German had a rendezvous with her lover every
day, beyond the ramparts, near the gate of Asnières. What a shame! It
is a place full of low gipsies and strolling players. Perhaps the child
has been stolen. Yes, sir, we informed the police at once. How could we
imagine such a thing? A hypocrite, that German! She had a rendezvous,
doubtless, with a countrymana Prussian spy, sure enough!
His son lost! M. Godefroy seemed to have a torrent of blood rushing
through his head. He sprang at Mademoiselle, seized her by the arms and
shook her furiously.
Where did you lose him, you miserable girl? Tell me the truth
before I shake you to pieces. Do you hear? Do you hear?
But the unfortunate girl could only cry and beg for mercy.
The banker tried to be calm. No, it was impossible. Nobody would
dare to steal his boy. Somebody would find him and bring him
back. Of that there could be no doubt. He could scatter money about
right and left, and could have the entire police force at his orders.
And he would set to work at once, for not an instant should be lost.
Charles, don't let the horses be taken out. You others, see that
this girl doesn't escape. I'm going to the Prefecture.
And M. Godefroy, with his heart thumping against his sides as if it
would break them, his hair wild with fright, darted into his carriage,
which at once rolled off as fast as the horses could take it. What
irony! The carriage was full of glittering playthings, which sparkled
every time a gaslight shone on them. For the next day was the birthday
of the divine Infant at whose cradle wise men and simple shepherds
My poor little Raoul! Poor darling! Where is my boy? repeated the
father as in his anguish he dug his nails into the cushions of the
At that moment all his titles and decorations, his honors, his
millions, were valueless to him. He had one single idea burning in his
brain. My poor child! Where is my child?
At last he reached the Prefecture of Police. But no one was
therethe office had been deserted for some time.
I am M. Godefroy, deputy from L'EureMy little boy is lost in
Paris; a child of four years. I must see the Prefect. He slipped a
louis into the hand of the concierge.
The good old soul, a veteran with a gray mustache, less for the sake
of the money than out of compassion for the poor father, led him to the
Prefect's private apartments. M. Godefroy was finally ushered into the
room of the man in whom were centred all his hopes. He was in evening
dress, and wore a monocle; his manner was frigid and rather
pretentious. The distressed father, whose knees trembled through
emotion, sank into an armchair, and, bursting into tears, told of the
loss of his boytold the story stammeringly and with many breaks, for
his voice was choked by sobs.
The Prefect, who was also father of a family, was inwardly moved at
the sight of his visitor's grief, but he repressed his emotion and
assumed a cold and self-important air.
You say, sir, that your child has been missing since four o'clock?
Just when night was falling, confound it. He isn't at all
precocious, speaks very little, doesn't know where he lives, and can't
even pronounce his own name?
Unfortunately that is so.
Not far from Asnières gate? A suspected quarter. But cheer up. We
have a very intelligent Commissaire de Police there. I'll
telephone to him.
The distressed father was left alone for five minutes. How his
temples throbbed and his heartbeat!
Then, suddenly, the Prefect reappeared, smiling with satisfaction.
Whereupon M. Godefroy rushed to the Prefect, whose hand he pressed
till that functionary winced with the pain.
I must acknowledge that we were exceedingly fortunate. The little
chap is blond, isn't he? Rather pale? In blue velvet? Black felt hat,
with a white feather in it?
Yes, yes; that's he. That's my little Raoul.
Well, he's at the house of a poor fellow down in that quarter who
had just been at the police office to make his declaration to the
Commissaire. Here's his address, which I took down: 'Pierron, rue
des Cailloux, Levaïlois-Perret.' With good horses you may reach
your boy in less than an hour. Certainly, you won't find him in an
aristocratic quarter; his surroundings won't be of the highest. The man
who found him is only a small dealer in vegetables.
But that was of no importance to M. Godefroy, who, having expressed
his gratitude to the Prefect, leaped down the stairs four at a time,
and sprang into his carriage. At that moment he realized how devotedly
he loved his child. As he drove away he no longer thought of little
Raoul's princely education and magnificent inheritance. He was decided
never again to hand over the child entirely to the hands of servants,
and he also made up his mind to devote less time to monetary matters
and the glory of France and attend more to his own. The thought also
occurred to him that France wouldn't be likely to suffer from the
neglect. He had hitherto been ashamed to recognize the existence of an
old-maid sister of his father, but he decided to send for her to his
house. She would certainly shock his lackeys by her primitive manners
and ideas. But what of that? She would take care of his boy, which to
him was of much more importance than the good opinion of his servants.
The financier, who was always in a hurry, never felt so eager to arrive
punctually at a committee meeting as he was to reach the lost little
one. For the first time in his life he was longing through pure
affection to take the child in his arms.
The carriage rolled rapidly along in the clear, crisp night air down
boulevard Malesherbes; and, having crossed the ramparts and passed the
large houses, plunged into the quiet solitude of suburban streets. When
the carriage stopped M. Godefroy saw a wretched hovel, on which was the
number he was seeking; it was the house where Pierron lived. The door
of the house opened immediately, and a big, rough-looking fellow with
red mustache appeared. One of his sleeves was empty. Seeing the
gentleman in the carriage, Pierron said cheerily: So you are the
little one's father. Don't be afraid. The little darling is quite
safe, and, stepping aside in order to allow M. Godefroy to pass, he
placed his finger on his lips with: Hush! The little one is asleep!
Yes, it was a real hovel. By the dim light of a little oil lamp M.
Godefroy could just distinguish a dresser from which a drawer was
missing, some broken chairs, a round table on which stood a beer-mug
which was half empty, three glasses, some cold meat on a plate, and on
the bare plaster of the wall two gaudy picturesa bird's-eye view of
the Exposition of 1889, with the Eiffel Tower in bright blue, and the
portrait of General Boulanger when a handsome young lieutenant. This
last evidence of weakness of the tenant of the house may well be
excused, since it was shared by nearly everybody in France. The man
took the lamp and went on tiptoe to the corner of the room where, on a
clean bed, two little fellows were fast asleep. In the little one,
around whom the other had thrown a protecting arm, M. Godefroy
recognized his son.
The youngsters were tired to death, and so sleepy, said Pierron,
trying to soften his rough voice. I had no idea when you would come,
so gave them some supper and put them to bed, and then I went to make a
declaration at the police office. Zidore generally sleeps up in the
garret, but I thought they would be better here, and that I should be
better able to watch them.
M. Godefroy, however, scarcely heard the explanation. Strangely
moved, he looked at the two sleeping infants on an iron bedstead and
covered with an old blanket which had once been used either in barracks
or hospital. Little Raoul, who was still in his velvet suit, looked so
frail and delicate compared with his companion that the banker almost
envied the latter his brown complexion.
Is he your boy? he asked Pierron.
No, answered he. I am a bachelor, and don't suppose I shall ever
marry, because of my accident. You see, a dray passed over my armthat
was all. Two years ago a neighbor of mine died, when that child was
only five years old. The poor mother really died of starvation. She
wove wreaths for the cemeteries, but could make nothing worth
mentioning at that tradenot enough to live. However, she worked for
the child for five years, and then the neighbors had to buy wreaths for
her. So I took care of the youngster. Oh, it was nothing much, and I
was soon repaid. He is seven years old, and is a sharp little fellow,
so he helps me a great deal. On Sundays and Thursdays, and the other
days after school, he helps me push my handcart. Zidore is a smart
little chap. It was he who found your boy.
What! exclaimed M. Godefroythat child!
Oh, he's quite a little man, I assure you. When he left school he
found your child, who was walking on ahead, crying like a fountain. He
spoke to him and comforted him, like an old grandfather. The difficulty
is, that one can't easily understand what your little one saysEnglish
words are mixed up with German and French. So we couldn't get much out
of him, nor could we learn his address. Zidore brought him to meI
wasn't far away; and then all the old women in the place came round
chattering and croaking like so many frogs, and all full of advice.
'Take him to the police,' said some.
But Zidore protested.
That would scare him, said he, for like all Parisians, he has no
particular liking for the policeand besides, your little one didn't
wish to leave him. So I came back here with the child as soon as I
could. They had supper, and then off to bed. Don't they look sweet?
When he was in his carriage, M. Godefroy had decided to reward the
finder of his child handsomelyto give him a handful of that gold so
easily gained. Since entering the house he had seen a side of human
nature with which he was formerly unacquaintedthe brave charity of
the poor in their misery. The courage of the poor girl who had worked
herself to death weaving wreaths to keep her child; the generosity of
the poor cripple in adopting the orphan, and above all, the intelligent
goodness of the little street Arab in protecting the child who was
still smaller than himselfall this touched M. Godefroy deeply and set
him reflecting. For the thought had occurred to him that there were
other cripples who needed to be looked after as well as Pierron, and
other orphans as well as Zidore. He also debated whether it would not
be better to employ his time looking after them, and whether money
might not be put to a better use than merely gaining money. Such was
his reverie as he stood looking at the two sleeping children. Finally,
he turned round to study the features of the greengrocer, and was
charmed by the loyal expression in the face of the man, and his clear,
My friend, said M. Godefroy, you and your adopted son have
rendered me an immense service. I shall soon prove to you that I am not
ungrateful. But, for to-dayI see that you are not in comfortable
circumstances, and I should like to leave a small proof of my
But the hand of the cripple arrested that of the banker, which was
diving into his coat-pocket where he kept bank-notes.
No, sir; no! Anybody else should have done just as we have done. I
will not accept any recompense; but pray don't take offense. Certainly,
I am not rolling in wealth, but please excuse my pridethat of an old
soldier; I have the Tonquin medaland I don't wish to eat food which I
As you like, said the financier; but an old soldier like you is
capable of something better. You are too good to push a handcart. I
will make some arrangement for you, never fear.
The cripple responded by a quiet smile, and said coldly: Well, sir,
if you really wish to do something for me
You'll let me care for Zidore, won't you? cried M. Godefroy,
That I will, with the greatest of pleasure, responded Pierron,
joyfully. I have often, thought about the child's future. He is a
sharp little fellow. His teachers are delighted with him.
Then Pierron suddenly stopped, and an expression came over his face
which M. Godefroy at once interpreted as one of distrust. The thought
evidently was: Oh, when he has once left us he'll forget us entirely.
You can safely pick the child up in your arms and take him to the
carriage. He'll be better at home than here, of course. Oh, you needn't
be afraid of disturbing him. He is fast asleep, and you can just pick
him up. He must have his shoes on first, though.
Following Pierron's glance M. Godefroy perceived on the hearth,
where a scanty coke fire was dying out, two pairs of children's
shoes;the elegant ones of Raoul, and the rough ones of Zidore. Each
pair contained a little toy and a package of bonbons.
Don't think about that, said Pierron in an abashed tone. Zidore
put the shoes there. You know children still believe in Christmas and
the child Jesus, whatever scholars may say about fables; so, as I came
back from the commissaire, as I didn't know whether your boy
would have to stay here to-night, I got those things for them both.
At which the eyes of M. Godefroy, the freethinker, the hardened
capitalist, and blasé man of the world, filled with tears.
He rushed out of the house, but returned in a minute with his arms
full of the superb mechanical horse, the box of leaden soldiers, and
the rest of the costly playthings bought by him in the afternoon, and
which had not even been taken out of the carriage.
My friend, my dear friend, said he to the greengrocer, see, these
are the presents which Christmas has brought to my little Raoul. I want
him to find them here, when he awakens, and to share them with Zidore,
who will henceforth be his playmate and friend. You'll trust me now,
won't you? I'll take care both of Zidore and of you, and then I shall
ever remain in your debt, for not only have you found my boy, but you
have also reminded me, who am rich and lived only for myself, that
there are other poor who need to be looked after. I swear by these two
sleeping children, I won't forget them any longer.
Such is the miracle which happened on the 24th of December of last
year, ladies and gentlemen, at Paris, in the full flow of modern
egotism. It doesn't sound likelythat I own; and I am compelled to
attribute this miraculous event to the influence of the Divine Child
who came down to earth nearly nineteen centuries ago to command men to
love one another.