The Fête At Coqueville

Emile Zola
The Fête At Coqueville, by Emile

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Title: The Fête At Coqueville 1907
Author: Emile Zola
Translator: L. G. Meyer
Release Date: October 27, 2007 [EBook #23222]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

Produced by David Widger

By Emile Zola

Translated by L. G. Meyer.
Copyright, 1907, by P. F. Collier & Son

Coqueville is a little village planted in a cleft in the rocks, two leagues
from Grandport. A fine sandy beach stretches in front of the huts
lodged half-way up in the side of the cliff like shells left there by the
tide. As one climbs to the heights of Grandport, on the left the yellow
sheet of sand can be very clearly seen to the west like a river of gold
dust streaming from the gaping cleft in the rock; and with good eyes
one can even distinguish the houses, whose tones of rust spot the rock
and whose chimneys send up their bluish trails to the very crest of the
great slope, streaking the sky. It is a deserted hole. Coqueville has
never been able to attain to the figure of two hundred inhabitants. The
gorge which opens into the sea, and on the threshold of which the
village is planted, burrows into the earth by turns so abrupt and by
descents so steep that it is almost impossible to pass there with wagons.
It cuts off all communication and isolates the country so that one seems
to be a hundred leagues from the neighboring hamlets.
Moreover, the inhabitants have communication with Grandport only by
water. Nearly all of them fishermen, living by the ocean, they carry
their fish there every day in their barks. A great commission house, the
firm of Dufeu, buys their fish on contract. The father Dufeu has been
dead some years, but the widow Dufeu has continued the business; she
has simply engaged a clerk, M. Mouchel, a big blond devil, charged
with beating up the coast and dealing with the fishermen. This M.
Mouchel is the sole link between Coque-ville and the civilized world.
Coqueville merits a historian. It seems certain that the village, in the
night of time, was founded by the Mahés; a family which happened to
establish itself there and which grew vigorous at the foot of the cliff.
These Mahés continued to prosper at first, marrying continually among
themselves, for during centuries one finds none but Mahés there. Then

under Louis XIII appeared one Floche. No one knew too much of
where he came from.. He married a Mahé, and from that time a
phenomenon was brought forth; the Floches in their turn prospered and
multiplied exceedingly, so that they ended little by little in absorbing
the Mahés, whose numbers diminished until their fortune passed
entirely into the hands of the newcomers. Without doubt, the Floches
brought new blood, more vigorous physical organs, a temperament
which adapted itself better to that hard condition of high wind and of
high sea. At any rate, they are to-day masters of Coqueville.
It can easily be understood that this displacement of numbers and of
riches was not accomplished without terrible disturbances. The Mahés
and the Hoches detest each other. Between them is a hatred of centuries.
The Mahés in spite of their decline retain the pride of ancient
conquerors. After all they are the founders, the ancestors. They speak
with contempt of the first Floche, a beggar, a vagabond picked up by
them from feelings of pity, and to have given away one of their
daughters to whom was their eternal regret. This Floche, to hear them
speak, had engendered nothing but a descent of libertines and thieves,
who pass their nights in raising children and their days in coveting
legacies. And there is not an insult they do not heap upon the powerful
tribe of Floche, seized with that bitter rage of nobles, decimated, ruined,
who see the spawn of the bourgeoisie master of their rents and of their
château. The Floches, on their side, naturally have the insolence of
those who triumph. They are in full possession, a thing to make them
insolent. Full of contempt for the ancient race of the Mahés, they
threaten to drive them from the village if they do not bow their heads.
To them they are starvelings, who instead of draping themselves in
their rags would
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