Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > French
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. X–XI: French
 
Saved from the Precipice!
By Eugène Labiche (1815–1888) and Édouard Martin (1828–1866)
 
From “Perrichon’s Journey”

Interior of a Swiss Inn.

PERRICHON, MME. PERRICHON, HENRIETTE, DESROCHES, GUIDE, and INNKEEPER.

(SAVARY enters, supported by the INNKEEPER and the GUIDE.)

Per.  (with great emotion).  Quick! Water! Salts! Vinegar!  (He makes SAVARY sit down.)
  1
  All.  What is the matter with him?  2
  Per.  A frightful affair! Make him drink! Chafe his temples!  3
  Sav.  Thank you—I feel better.  4
  Des.  What has happened to him?  5
  Sav.  Had it not been for M. Perrichon’s courage——  6
  Per.  Don’t speak of it, don’t! It’s horrible. We were on the frozen lake. Silent and majestic, Mont Blanc looked down upon us——  7
  Sav.  (to himself).  Like the hero in a tragedy!  8
  Mme. Per.  But come to the point!  9
  Hen.  But, father!  10
  Per.  One moment. For five minutes we had been pensively following a foot-path which wound itself between two crevices—of ice. I walked ahead.  11
  Mme. Per.  How careless!  12
  Per.  Suddenly I hear somebody behind me fall. I turn round. This gentleman had disappeared into one of those bottomless abysses, the very sight of which makes one shudder.  13
  Mme. Per.  (impatiently).  But, my dear!  14
  Per.  Then, heeding only the voice of courage, I, the father of a family, I throw myself——  15
  Mme. Per. and Hen.  Heavens!  16
  Per.  On the edge of the precipice, and stretch out my alpenstock to him. He grasps it. I draw, he draws, we draw, and, after a wild struggle, I drag him from the awful void to the face of the sun, our universal father.  17
  Hen.  Oh, papa!  18
  Mme. Per.  My dear!  19
  Per.  (kissing his wife and daughter).  Yes, my dear ones, that is a beautiful page——  20
  Des.  (to SAVARY).  How do you feel now?  21
  Sav.  All right. Don’t worry.  (Aloud.)  M. Perrichon, you have just saved a son to his mother——  22
  Per.  That’s true!  23
  Sav.  A brother to his sister!  24
  Per.  And an individual to society.  25
  Sav.  Words are powerless to speak one’s gratitude for such a service.  26
  Per.  That’s true!  27
  Sav.  It is only the heart, you understand, only the heart——  28
  Per.  Daniel! Yes, let me call you by your Christian name!  29
  Sav.  (to himself).  Hullo!  30
  Per.  (with emotion).  Daniel, my friend, my child—your hand! I owe you the sweetest emotions of my life. Without me, you would now be a formless and repulsive mass buried under the ice. You owe me everything, everything. I shall never forget it.  31
  Sav.  Nor I!  32
  Per.  (wiping his eyes, to DESROCHES).  Ah, young man, you do not know the pleasure that one experiences in saving one’s fellow man.  33
  Hen.  But, papa, the gentleman knows it very well, since——  34
  Per.  Oh, yes, that’s true! Innkeeper, bring me the travelers’ book.  35
  Mme. Per.  For what purpose?  36
  Per.  Before leaving these abodes, I desire by a brief record to consecrate the memory of this event!
*        *        *        *        *
  37
Perrichon’s Residence, Paris.

PERRICHON, HENRIETTE, MAJORIN, and JEAN.

  Jean  (announces).  M. Daniel Savary!
  38
  Per.  Ah, here he is, our dear friend, our excellent Daniel.  39
  Sav.  (entering).  Ladies!  40
  Per.  Come, let me introduce you to Majorin. Majorin, I present to you one of my good, one of my best friends, M. Daniel Savary.  41
  Maj.  Savary? Of the steamship company?  42
  Sav.  The same.  43
  Per.  Ah, if it were not for me he would not pay you your dividends to-morrow.  44
  Maj.  Why?  45
  Per.  Why? Simply, my good man, because I saved his life.  46
  Maj.  You?  47
  Per.  We were walking on the lake of ice; silent and majestic, Mont Blanc looked down upon us——  48
  Sav.  (to himself).  There he goes again!  49
  Per.  We were pensively following a path——  50
  Hen.  (who has opened a newspaper).  Look, papa, what this paper contains.  51
  Per.  What, am I in the paper?  52
  Hen.  Read it yourself. There.  53
  Per.  You’ll see, I have been drawn for the jury.  (He reads.)  “We have received news from Chamouni——”  54
  All.  Listen!  55
  Per.  (reads).  “——of an event which might have had the most deplorable consequences. M. Daniel S—— missed his step, and disappeared into one of those abysses that are so feared by travelers. One of the witnesses of the scene, M. Perrichon, who permits us to mention his name—” When did I permit them? “—M. Perrichon, a well-known Paris merchant, and the father of a family, heeding only the voice of courage, and careless of his own life, rushed to the abyss—” That’s true! “—and, after unheard-of efforts, was happy enough to save his companion. Such heroic devotion is only surpassed by the modesty of M. Perrichon, who seeks to escape the congratulations of a profoundly admiring public. Good citizens of all countries will thank us for celebrating such virtue.”  56
  All.  Ah!  57
  Sav.  (to himself).  Three francs per line!  58
  Per.  “Good citizens of all countries will thank us for celebrating such virtue.”  (To SAVARY, with emotion.)  My friend, my child! Come to my arms.  59
  Sav.  (aside).  Most decidedly, I am in luck.  60
  Per.  I am surely no revolutionary, but I proclaim it aloud: there is something good in the press!  (Putting the paper in his pocket.)  I will send out for ten copies.  61
 
 
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