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The Death of the Dauphin
By Alphonse Daudet
In his lace-bedecked crib the little Dauphin, whiter than the cushions upon which he lies, is resting now with closed eyes. They think that he sleeps; but no. The little Dauphin is not asleep. He turns to his mother, and seeing that she is weeping, he says to
her: “Madame queen, why do you weep? Is it because you really believe that I am going
The queen tries to reply. Sobs prevent her from speaking.
“Pray do not weep, madame queen; you forget that I am the Dauphin, and that dauphins cannot die like this."
The queen sobs more bitterly than ever, and the little Dauphin begins to be alarmed.
“l say," he says, “I don't want Death to come and take me, and I will find a way to prevent his coming here. Let them send at
once forty very strong troopers to stand guard around our bed! Let a hundred big guns watch night and day, with matches lighted, under our windows! And woe to Death if it dares approach us!”
To please the royal child the queen makes a sign. In a moment they hear the big guns rumbling through the courtyard; and forty tall troopers, halberds in hand, take their places about the room. They are all old soldiers with gray mustaches. The little Dauphin claps his hands when he sees them. He recognizes one of them and calls him, “Lorrain! Lorrain!”
The soldier steps forward towards the bed.
“I love you dearly, my old Lorrain. Let me see your big sword. If Death tries to take me you must kill him, won't you?"
“Yes, monseigneur," Lorrain replies. And two great tears roll down his bronzed cheeks.
At that moment the chaplain approaches the little Dauphin and talks with him for a long time in a low voice, showing him a crucifix. The little Dauphin listens with an expression of great surprise, then, abruptly interrupting him, he says, “**I understand what you say, monsieur, l'abbe; but tell me, couldn't my little friend, Beppo, die in my place, if I gave him a lot of money? "
The chaplain continues to speak in a low voice, and the little Dauphin's expression becomes more and more astonished.
When the chaplain has finished, the little Dauphin replies with a deep sigh, “'*A11 this that you tell me is very sad, monsieur L'abbe; but one thing consoles me, and that is that up yonder, in the paradise of the stars, I shall still be the Dauphin. I know that the good Lord is my cousin, and that He cannot fail to treat me according to my rank."
Then he adds, turning to his mother, “Let them bring me my richest clothes, my doublet of white ermine and my velvet slippers!I wish to make myself handsome for the angels, and to enter paradise in the costume of a Dauphin."
A third time, the chaplain leans towards the little Dauphin and talks to him for a long time in a low voice. In the midst of his harangue, the royal child angrily interrupts, “Why then, to be Dauphin is to be nothing at all!"
And, refusing to listen to anything more, the little Dauphin turns towards the wall and weeps bitterly.