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MARKET AT GRAND ANDELYS
THERE was always much
noise and activity in the farmyard of La Chaumière on Mondays, for that was
market-day at Grand Andelys, —
the important event in a country
neighbourhood in France.
For miles about, from
the farms and small villages, every one meets in the market-place in the centre
of the old town; not only to buy and sell, but to talk and be sociable, to hear
news and tell it.
The French folk are
very industrious, and they do not take much time for idle gossip unless there is
some profit connected with it; but on market-day they combine business with
pleasure, and make good bargains and hear all the happenings of the countryside
at the same time.
called out Marie, after dinner on this particular Monday, “let us see them put
the little calves in the cart. Papa is going to take four of them to market.”
“I know it, but I
felt so sorry I did not want to see them go,” said Germaine, for she was very
tender-hearted. Rather reluctantly she followed Marie into the farmyard. Marie
was also very fond of the farm animals, but, having been away at school, had
naturally not made such pets of them as had Germaine, who petted everything,
from the big plough-horses to the tiny chickens just out of the shell. They were
to her like friends, and it was really a grief to her when any of them were
taken away to the market. But she tried to conquer the feeling, for it was part
of her papa’s business to sell cattle in the market, and he did so to provide
for his two little daughters. All French parents, of whatever position, will
stint and save in order to accumulate a “dot,” as it is called, for their
children, and will make any reasonable sacrifice to start them well in life.
The four little calves
had been tied in the cart with many bleatings, and much protesting on the part
of their mothers. “Papa is going to take them to market, and mamma is to drive
you and me,” said Marie.
Madame Lafond and the
two girls climbed into the cart hung high above its two great wheels. All three
sat together on the one seat, which was quite wide. These country carts are
almost square and also rather pretty. They are built of small panels of wood
arranged in more or less ornamental patterns, and are usually painted in bright
colours, and have, also, a big hood which can be put up as a protection from the
The back of the cart was
filled with baskets of eggs, from a specially famous variety of fowl, for which
the farm was noted.
The road to Les
Andelys was crowded with their neighbours and friends bound in the same
direction, and all in the same style of high carts, drawn by a single horse.
They drove beside the
river that flows through the two villages, along which the washerwomen gathered
when they washed their clothes. They knelt by a long plank and gossiped as they
beat out the dirt with a paddle, rinsing the clothes afterward in the running
water of the stream itself.
At the town they drove into
the courtyard of the hotel of the “Bon Laboureur,” where there were dozens
of country carts like their own, from which the horses had already been taken.
They left the stableman to take charge of theirs, and walked across to the
Booths, with awnings,
held everything that could be imagined, from old cast-off pieces of iron, locks,
keys and the like, to the newest kinds of clothing; for everything under the sun
is sold at these markets, and it is here that the people do most of their
shopping rather than in the shops. Laces, crockery, imitation jewelry and
furniture, and most things useful to man or beast are sold here.
Big umbrellas were
stuck up for protection against sun and rain. Some of them were of brilliant
colours, reds, blues, and greens, some were faded to neutral tints by the
weathers of many market-days — looking like a field of big mushrooms.
On one side of the
square was the vegetable and fruit market, where the women in their neat cotton
dresses and white caps sat under their umbrellas, with heaped up baskets of
peas, beans, cauliflower, melons, and crisp green stuff for salads around them.
These vegetable and fruit sellers are known as the “Merchants of the four
seasons,” because they sell, at various times, the products of the four
seasons of the year.
Near by were the
geese, ducks, and chickens packed in big basket-crates, piled one on top of the
other, and all clucking and restless. Quantities of little rabbits were also
there, and when a buyer wished to know if the rabbit were in prime condition, he
would lift it up by the back of its neck just as one does a kitten, and feel its
backbone. One does not know whether the poor rabbits like it or not, but they
look very frightened, and seem glad when it is over.
Madame Lafond made her
way toward the egg-market, where the eggs are displayed piled up in great
baskets, stopping to speak to a friend or an acquaintance by the way. She was
soon in her accustomed place, and had opened up her eggs for her customers, for
eggs from La Chaumière never went begging.
The two little
children of the wagon-maker joined Marie and Germaine, and the four amused
themselves looking at the booths, and planning what they would buy if they had
the money, or amused themselves watching the crowd that quite filled the big
market-place. “There are the English,” some one said, and, turning, Germaine
saw her friend Mr. Carter, and his wife, the Americans who were spending the
summer at the Belle Etoile, standing at one of the booths, buying a baton
Normand, a rough stick of native wood, with a head of plaited leather, and a
leather loop to hold it on the arm, for they are used by the peasants in driving
cattle, and they frequently want to have their hands otherwise quite free.
“This will make me a good walking-stick,” said Mr. Carter, coming up to the
little girls and shaking hands with them. “This is your sister back from
school, eh? Well, when are you two going to take that ride with me?”
It had been a promise
of long standing that when Marie was at home, they were to go for a day’s trip
in Mr. Carter’s big automobile. “Well, I must fix on a day, and let M.
Auguste send word to your mamma so that you and Marie can come to the Belle
Etoile, and we can start from there.”
“Won’t it be
lovely?” said Marie; “we shall feel as fine as M. Lecoq, the rich farmer who
comes to market in his great auto, wearing his fur coat over his blouse, with
his sabots on just as if he was in the
farm wagon, riding behind his four white oxen.”
All French working men
wear the blouse. It is almost like a uniform, and by the colour of his blouse
one can generally guess a man’s trade. Painters, masons, grocers, and bakers
wear the white blouse; mechanics and the better class of farmers seem to prefer
black, and the ordinary peasants and labourers wear.
The blouse is made
like a big full shirt, and reaches nearly to the knees. You will see men well
dressed in black broadcloth, white shirts and neat ties, and over all the
blouse. It is really worn now to protect the clothes, but is a survival of the
olden times when all trades wore a livery.
At the market at Grand
Andelys one could but notice the neatly dressed hair of the women folk.
All Frenchwomen, of
whatsoever class, always dress their hair neatly and prettily: and as the young
girls seldom wear a hat or a bonnet, it shows off to so much better advantage.
This is all very well in summer, but one wonders that they do not take cold in
winter. The women wear felt slippers, and thrust their feet into their sabots, when they go out, which are not so clumsy as those of the
men, dropping them at the door when they come into the house. You will always
see several pairs of sabots around the
entrance to the home of a French working man.
The children by this time
had got to where the calves stood in their little fenced-in enclosure. They were
not put in the market by the church with the big cattle, and Germaine felt much
happier when she heard that they had been sold for farm purposes, and not for
veal to the big butcher in his long white apron, who stood by, jingling his long
knives that hung at his side from a chain around his waist.
As they were near the
bakers’, Marie suggested they buy a brioche,
and take it home to eat with their chocolate. Brioche
is a very delicate bread made with eggs and milk, and is esteemed as a great
delicacy. The bakery looked very tempting filled with bread of all kinds and
shapes, — sticks of bread a yard long, loaves like a big ring with a hole in
the middle, big flat loaves which would nearly cover a small table, twisted
loaves and square loaves.
When they had made
their purchases and rejoined their mother, they found her with Madame Daboll,
who told them that poor M. Masson, the wealthy mill-owner, who had been ill so
long, was dead, and there was to be a grand funeral at the church of St. Sauveur
the next day.
In France great respect is
paid to the dead, and funerals are conducted with as much pomp as one’s
M. Masson was
connected, in one way or another, with nearly every one in the neighbourhood,
and the little church of St. Sauveur was crowded with the friends and relatives
all in deep black, the men wearing a band of crape on the arm. Over the church
door was a sort of black lambrequin with the letter M. embroidered in silver. As
the funeral passed through the streets, the “suisse,”
the clergy, and the mourners, following the hearse on foot, made an
impressive and solemn sight. As the cortege passed, all who met it bowed their
heads or removed their hats, as is the custom all over Europe.
The only thing out of place
seemed to be the ugly wreaths made of black, white, and purple beads, with which
the hearse was covered. To our taste they seem hideous, but Germaine thought the
white bead lilies with black jet leaves very beautiful, for she was used to
seeing the graves in the small cemetery covered with such tributes.
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