The Christmas Kalends of Provence

Thomas A. Janvier

Christmas Kalends of Provence, by Thomas A. Janvier

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Title: The Christmas Kalends of Provence And Some Other Proven?al Festivals
Author: Thomas A. Janvier
Release Date: October 19, 2006 [EBook #19587]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
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[Illustration: "'TO THE HEALTH OF THE COUNT!'"
See p. 32]

The Christmas Kalends of Provence
AND SOME OTHER PROVEN?AL FESTIVALS
* * * * *
BY
THOMAS A. JANVIER
S¨°CI D¨°U FELIBRIGE
AUTHOR OF "IN OLD NEW YORK" "THE PASSING OF THOMAS" "IN GREAT WATERS" ETC.
ILLUSTRATED
* * * * *
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON
1902
Copyright, 1902, by HARPER & BROTHERS.
All rights reserved.
Published November, 1902.
TO
C. A. J.

Contents
PAGE
THE CHRISTMAS KALENDS OF PROVENCE 1
A FEAST-DAY ON THE RH?NE 133
THE COM¨¦DIE FRAN?AISE AT ORANGE 209

Illustrations
"'TO THE HEALTH OF THE COUNT!'" Frontispiece
AT THE WELL Facing p. 6
PLANTING SAINT BARBARA'S GRAIN " 14
ELIZO'S OLD FATHER " 74
MAGALI " 100
THE PASSING OF THE KINGS " 112
"THE BLIND GIRL"--NO?L " 118
THE LANDING-PLACE AT TOURNON " 166
THE DEFILE OF DONZ¨¨RE " 190
THE ROUMANILLE MONUMENT " 198
AVIGNON " 204
GENERAL VIEW OF THE THEATRE " 210
"IT LOOKED TREASONS, CONSPIRACIES AND MUTINOUS " 236 OUTBURSTS"
THE GREAT FA?ADE " 238
SCENE FROM THE FIRST ACT OF "OEDIPUS" " 248
SCENE FROM THE SECOND ACT OF "ANTIGONE" " 256

The Christmas Kalends of Provence
I
Fancy you've journeyed down the Rh?ne, Fancy you've passed Vienne, Valence, Fancy you've skirted Avignon-- And so are come en pleine Provence.
Fancy a mistral cutting keen Across the sunlit wintry fields, Fancy brown vines, and olives green, And blustered, swaying, cypress shields.
Fancy a widely opened door, Fancy an eager outstretched hand, Fancy--nor need you ask for more-- A heart-sped welcome to our land.
Fancy the peal of Christmas chimes, Fancy that some long-buried year Is born again of ancient times-- And in Provence take Christmas cheer!
In my own case, this journey and this welcome were not fancies but realities. I had come to keep Christmas with my old friend Monsieur de Vi¨¨lmur according to the traditional Proven?al rites and ceremonies in his own entirely Proven?al home: an ancient dwelling which stands high up on the westward slope of the Alpilles, overlooking Arles and Tarascon and within sight of Avignon, near the Rh?ne margin of Provence.
The Vidame--such is Monsieur de Vi¨¨lmur's ancient title: dating from the vigorous days when every proper bishop, himself not averse to taking a breather with sword and battle-axe should fighting matters become serious, had his vice dominus to lead his forces in the field--is an old-school country gentleman who is amiably at odds with modern times. While tolerant of those who have yielded to the new order, he himself is a great stickler for the preservation of antique forms and ceremonies: sometimes, indeed, pushing his fancies to lengths that fairly would lay him open to the charge of whimsicality, were not even the most extravagant of his crotchets touched and mellowed by his natural goodness of heart. In the earlier stages of our acquaintance I was disposed to regard him as an eccentric; but a wider knowledge of Proven?al matters has convinced me that he is a type. Under his genial guidance it has been my privilege to see much of the inner life of the Proven?aux, and his explanations have enabled me to understand what I have seen: the Vidame being of an antiquarian and bookish temper, and never better pleased than when I set him to rummaging in his memory or his library for the information which I require to make clear to me some curious phase of Proven?al manners or ways.
The Chateau de Vi¨¨lmur has remained so intimately a part of the Middle Ages that the subtle essence of that romantic period still pervades it, and gives to all that goes on there a quaintly archaic tone. The donjon, a prodigiously strong square tower dating from the twelfth century, partly is surrounded by a dwelling in the florid style of two hundred years back--the architectural flippancies of which have been so tousled by time and weather as to give it the look of an old beau caught unawares by age and grizzled in the midst of his affected youth.
In the rear of these oddly coupled structures is a farm-house with a dependent rambling collection of farm-buildings; the whole enclosing a large open court to which access is had by a vaulted passage-way, that on occasion may be closed by a double set of ancient iron-clamped doors. As the few exterior windows of the farm-house are grated
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