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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Letters from my Windmill, by Alphonse Daudet

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org

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Title: Letters from my Windmill

Author: Alphonse Daudet

Translator: Mireille Harmelin and Keith Adams

Release Date: November 10, 2009 [EBook #30442]

Language: English


Produced by Mireille Harmelin and Keith Adams




Translated for Project Gutenberg by Mireille Harmelin & Keith Adams©2009


1. Foreword.

2. First Impressions.

3. The Coach from Beaucaire.

4. Master-Miller Cornille's Secret.

5. Monsieur Seguin's Last Kid Goat.

6. The Stars.

7. The Arlesienne.

8. The Pope's Mule.

9. The Lighthouse on the Sanguinaires.

10. The Wreck of the Sémillante

11. The Customs' Men.

12. The Cucugnanian Priest.

13. The Old Folks.

14. Prose Ballads I—Death of the Dauphin. II—The Sub-Prefect Takes A Day Off.

15. Bixiou's Wallet.

16. The Man with the Golden Brain.

17. The Poet, Frédéric Mistral.

18. The Three Low Masses.

19. The Oranges.

20. The Two Inns.

21. At Milianah.

22. The Locusts.

23. Father Gaucher's Elixir.

24. In the Camargue.

25. Nostalgia for the Barracks and Paris.


As witnessed by Master Honorat Grapazi, lawyer at the residence of


"As summoned

"Mr Gaspard Mitifio, husband of Vivette Cornille, tenant at the placecalled Les Cigalières and resident there.

"Who herewith has sold and transferred under guarantee by law and deedand free of all debts, privileges and mortgages,

"To Mr Alphonse Daudet, poet, living in Paris, here present andaccepting it.

"A windmill and flourmill, located in the Rhône valley, in the heart ofProvence, on a wooded hillside of pines and green oaks; being the saidwindmill, abandoned for over twenty years, and not viable for grinding,as it appears that wild vines, moss, rosemary, and other parasiticgreenery are climbing up to the sails;

"Notwithstanding the condition it is in and performs, with its grindingwheel broken, its platform brickwork grown through with grass, thisaffirms that the Mr Daudet finds the said windmill to his liking andable to serve as a workplace for his poetry, and accepts it whateverthe risk and danger, and without any recourse to the vendor for anyrepairs needing to be made thereto.

"This sale has taken place outright for the agreed price, that the MrDaudet, poet, has put and deposed as a type of payment, which price hasbeen redeemed and received by the Mr Mitifio, all the foregoing havingbeen seen by the lawyers and the undersigned witnesses, whose bills areto be confirmed.

"Deed made at Pampérigouste, in Honorat's office, in the presence ofFrancet Mamaï, fife player, and of Louiset, known as Quique, crucifixcarrier for the white penitents;

"Who have signed, together with the parties above and the lawyer afterreading it."



I am not sure who was the more surprised when I arrived—me or therabbits…. The door had been bolted and barred for a long time, andthe walls and platform were overgrown with weeds; so, understandably,the rabbits had come to the conclusion that millers were a dying breed.They had found the place much to their liking, and felt fully entitledto made the windmill their general and strategic headquarters. Thenight I moved in, I tell you, there were over twenty of them, sprawledaround the apron, basking in the moonlight. When I opened a window, thewhole encampment scampered off, their white scuts bobbing up and downuntil they had completely disappeared into the brush. I do hope theycome back, though.

Another much surprised resident was also not best comforted by myarrival. It was the old, thoughtful, sinister-looking owl, a sittingtenant for some twenty years. I found him stiff and motionless on hisroost of fallen plaster and tiles. He ran his large round eyes over mebriefly and then, probably much put out by the presence of a stranger,he hooted, and painfully and carefully shook his dusty, greywings;—they ponder too much these owlish, thinking types and neverkeep themselves clean … it didn't matter! even with his blinking eyesand his sullen expression, this particular occupant would suit mebetter than most, and I immediately decided he was only too welcome tostay. He stayed right there, just where he'd always been, at the verytop of the mill near his own personal roof entrance. Me—I settled downbelow in a little, whitewashed, vaulted, and low-ceilinged room, muchlike a nun's refectory.

* * * * *

I am writing to you from my windmill, with the door wide open to thebrilliant sunshine.

In front of me, a lovely, sparklingly lit, pine wood plunges down tothe bottom of the hill. The nearest mountains, the Alpilles, are faraway, their grand silhouettes pressing against the sky…. There washardly a sound to be heard; a fading fife, a curlew calling amongst thelavender, and a tinkle of mules' bells from somewhere along the track.The Provencal light really brings this beautiful landscape to life.

Don't you wonder, right now, if I am missing your black and bustlingParis? Actually, I'm very contented in my windmill; it is just the sortof warm, sweet-smelling spot I was looking for, a long, long way fromnewspapers, hansom cabs, and all that fog!… Also, I am surrounded byso many lovely things. My head is bursting with vivid memories andwonderful impressions, after only eight days here. For instance,yesterday evening, I saw the flocks of animals returning from the hillsto the farm (the mas), and I swear that I wouldn't swap this onehillside wonder for a whole week's worth of Premieres in Paris. Well,I'll let you be the judge.

Here in Provence, it's normal practice to send the sheep into themountains when it's warm enough in the spring, and, for five or sixmonths, man and beast live together with nothing but the sky for a roofand grass for a bed. When the first autumn chill is felt in the air,they are brought back down to the mas, and they

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