- Nicolas ! Nicolas ! Now where has that little devil gone ?
Of course, I could hear my mother loudly calling for me, but i didn't want to answer because i knew i was going to be scolded once again. I was hiding in the grotto which overlooks the source of the Douix, just uphill from the village. The access is through a sort of chimney; it's a magical place, and for weeks, i had been desperately hoping to see some fairies, good or bad, or even, maybe, la Vouivre, beautiful and terrible, whose legend the older women of the village would recount to us at night. I cherished these moments, when flames from the hearth would draw disquieting shadows on the wall, exciting one's imagination.
By the time i left the grotto, it was dark, ...already. In the Douix, i threw some small coins which i had brought especially for that, wishing that one day i would be able to live as free as the fairies in the forest. In the freshness of the night, the moss under my feet exhaled a marvelous perfume. A bird intoned an evening song, his heart filled, no doubt, as mine was, with the joy of living a new spring in these woods i loved so much.
Back at the house, my mother was waiting for me on the doorstep, my brother Joseph in her skirts.
- You don't understand, Nicolas ! Always wandering about in the woods after vespers, you're going to attract the anger of bad spirits, is that what you want ?
- No mother, i just wanted …the forest is so beautiful, it's so mild …i didn't notice the day fall ! And anyway, it's Jean's fault, he's always saying i wouldn't have the courage to go, that i was only a coward !
- That's not an excuse ! Go to the lean-to and let that be a lesson to you ! Your father and i will have to find a way to make you listen to reason once and for all !
That happened in Darcey, a large village in Burgundy, in France, in 1653. I was born in Ménétreux-le-Pitois in 1643. My father, François Perrot, was a merchant there. That's where my mother, Marie Sirot, was born, and that's where they were wed. My mother's family had been living in the heights of Ménétreux for more than a hundred years. Alas, times were hard; revolts, warring with the nearby Comté, the lack of food, and sickness, had sorely tried our Upper Burgundy. We'd had to move in with my uncle François who was a notary in Darcey and stay there until my parents could find another roof.continued...