Posted by ricardo marcenaro | Posted in Short Stories: Honore De Balzac - Innocence - Photo gallery - Links to more ShS | Posted on 9:05
Understand me, children up to the age of ten years, for after that they become men or women, and cutting their wisdom teeth, are not worth what they cost; the worst are the best. Watch them playing, prettily and innocently, with slippers; above all, cancellated ones, with the household utensils, leaving that which displeases them, crying after that which pleases them, munching the sweets and confectionery in the house, nibbling at the stores, and always laughing as soon as their teeth are cut, and you will agree with me that they are in every way lovable; besides which they are flower and fruit--the fruit of love, the flower of life. Before their minds have been unsettled by the disturbances of life, there is nothing in this world more blessed or more pleasant than their sayings, which are naive beyond description. This is as true as the double chewing machine of a cow. Do not expect a man to be innocent after the manner of children, because there is an, I know not what, ingredient of reason in the naivety of a man, while the naivety of children is candid, immaculate, and has all the finesse of the mother, which is plainly proved in this tale.
One day Madame Catherine took with her to the king's room her son Francis and little Margot, who began to talk at random, as children will. Now here, now there, these children had heard this picture of Adam and Eve spoken about, and had tormented their mother to take them there. Since the two little ones at times amused the old king, Madame the Dauphine consented to their request.
"You wished to see Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; there they are," said she.
Then she left them in great astonishment before Titian's picture, and seated herself by the bedside of the king, who delighted to watch the children.
"Which of the two is Adam?" said Francis, nudging his sister Margot's elbow.
"You silly!" replied she, "to know that, they would have to be dressed!"
This reply, which delighted the poor king and the mother, was mentioned in a letter written in Florence by Queen Catherine.
No writer having brought it to light, it will remain, like a sweet flower, in a corner of these Tales, although it is no way droll, and there is no other moral to be drawn from it except that to hear these pretty speeches of infancy one must beget the children.
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