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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
“Good-Night, Babbette”
By Henry Austin Dobson (1840–1921)
 
“Si vieillesse pouvait!”

SCENE.A small neat room. In a high Voltaire chair sits a white-haired old gentleman.

M. VIEUXBOIS  [turning querulously]        Day of my life! Where can she get?
        BABETTE! I say! BABETTE!—BABETTE!
 
BABETTE  [entering hurriedly]
        Coming, M’sieu’! If M’sieu’ speaks
        So loud, he won’t be well for weeks!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS
        Where have you been?

BABETTE
                        Why, M’sieu’ knows:—
        5
April!… Ville-d’ Avray!… Ma’m’selle ROSE!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS
        Ah! I am old,—and I forget.
        Was the place growing green, BABETTE?
 
BABETTE
        But of a greenness!—Yes, M’sieu’!
        And then the sky so blue!—so blue!        10
        And when I dropped my immortelle,
        How the birds sang!
[Lifting her apron to her eyes.]
                        This poor Ma’m’selle!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS
        You’re a good girl, BABETTE, but she,—
        She was an angel, verily.
        Sometimes I think I see her yet        15
        Stand smiling by the cabinet;
        And once, I know, she peeped and laughed
        Betwixt the curtains….
                            Where’s the draught?
[She gives him a cup.]
        Now I shall sleep, I think, BABETTE;        20
        Sing me your Norman chansonnette.
 
BABETTE  [sings]
            “Once at the Angelus
              (Ere I was dead),
            Angels all glorious
              Came to my bed;        25
            Angels in blue and white,
              Crowned on the head.”
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [drowsily]
“She was an Angel” … “Once she laughed” …
        What! was I dreaming?
                            Where’s the draught?
 
BABETTE  [showing the empty cup]
        The draught, M’sieu’?

M. VIEUXBOIS
                        How I forget!
        30
        I am so old! But sing, BABETTE!
 
BABETTE  [sings]
            “One was the Friend I left
              Stark in the Snow;
            One was the Wife that died
              Long,—long ago;        35
            One was the Love I lost
              How could she know?”
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [murmuring]
        Ah PAUL!… old PAUL!… EULALIE, too!
        And ROSE…. And O! “the sky so blue!”
 
BABETTE  [sings]
            “One had my Mother’s eyes,
        40
              Wistful and mild;
            One had my Father’s face;
              One was a Child:
            All of them bent to me,
              Bent down and smiled!”
        [He is asleep!]
        45
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [almost inaudibly]
                            How I forget!
        I am so old!… Good-night, BABETTE.
 
 
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