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      THERE was always much noise and activity in the farmyard of La Chaumière on Mondays, for that was market-day at Grand Andelys, — the important event in a country neighbourhood in France.

      For miles about, from the farms and small villages, every one meets in the market-place in the centre of the old town; not only to buy and sell, but to talk and be sociable, to hear news and tell it.

      The French folk are very industrious, and they do not take much time for idle gossip unless there is some profit connected with it; but on market-day they combine business with pleasure, and make good bargains and hear all the happenings of the countryside at the same time.

      “Come, Germaine,” called out Marie, after dinner on this particular Monday, “let us see them put the little calves in the cart. Papa is going to take four of them to market.”

      “I know it, but I felt so sorry I did not want to see them go,” said Germaine, for she was very tender-hearted. Rather reluctantly she followed Marie into the farmyard. Marie was also very fond of the farm animals, but, having been away at school, had naturally not made such pets of them as had Germaine, who petted everything, from the big plough-horses to the tiny chickens just out of the shell. They were to her like friends, and it was really a grief to her when any of them were taken away to the market. But she tried to conquer the feeling, for it was part of her papa’s business to sell cattle in the market, and he did so to provide for his two little daughters. All French parents, of whatever position, will stint and save in order to accumulate a “dot,” as it is called, for their children, and will make any reasonable sacrifice to start them well in life.

      The four little calves had been tied in the cart with many bleatings, and much protesting on the part of their mothers. “Papa is going to take them to market, and mamma is to drive you and me,” said Marie.

      Madame Lafond and the two girls climbed into the cart hung high above its two great wheels. All three sat together on the one seat, which was quite wide. These country carts are almost square and also rather pretty. They are built of small panels of wood arranged in more or less ornamental patterns, and are usually painted in bright colours, and have, also, a big hood which can be put up as a protection from the rain. 

     The back of the cart was filled with baskets of eggs, from a specially famous variety of fowl, for which the farm was noted.

      The road to Les Andelys was crowded with their neighbours and friends bound in the same direction, and all in the same style of high carts, drawn by a single horse.

      They drove beside the river that flows through the two villages, along which the washerwomen gathered when they washed their clothes. They knelt by a long plank and gossiped as they beat out the dirt with a paddle, rinsing the clothes afterward in the running water of the stream itself. 

     At the town they drove into the courtyard of the hotel of the “Bon Laboureur,” where there were dozens of country carts like their own, from which the horses had already been taken. They left the stableman to take charge of theirs, and walked across to the market-square.

      Booths, with awnings, held everything that could be imagined, from old cast-off pieces of iron, locks, keys and the like, to the newest kinds of clothing; for everything under the sun is sold at these markets, and it is here that the people do most of their shopping rather than in the shops. Laces, crockery, imitation jewelry and furniture, and most things useful to man or beast are sold here.  

      Big umbrellas were stuck up for protection against sun and rain. Some of them were of brilliant colours, reds, blues, and greens, some were faded to neutral tints by the weathers of many market-days — looking like a field of big mushrooms.

      On one side of the square was the vegetable and fruit market, where the women in their neat cotton dresses and white caps sat under their umbrellas, with heaped up baskets of peas, beans, cauliflower, melons, and crisp green stuff for salads around them. These vegetable and fruit sellers are known as the “Merchants of the four seasons,” because they sell, at various times, the products of the four seasons of the year.

      Near by were the geese, ducks, and chickens packed in big basket-crates, piled one on top of the other, and all clucking and restless. Quantities of little rabbits were also there, and when a buyer wished to know if the rabbit were in prime condition, he would lift it up by the back of its neck just as one does a kitten, and feel its backbone. One does not know whether the poor rabbits like it or not, but they look very frightened, and seem glad when it is over.

      Madame Lafond made her way toward the egg-market, where the eggs are displayed piled up in great baskets, stopping to speak to a friend or an acquaintance by the way. She was soon in her accustomed place, and had opened up her eggs for her customers, for eggs from La Chaumière never went begging.

      The two little children of the wagon-maker joined Marie and Germaine, and the four amused themselves looking at the booths, and planning what they would buy if they had the money, or amused themselves watching the crowd that quite filled the big market-place. “There are the English,” some one said, and, turning, Germaine saw her friend Mr. Carter, and his wife, the Americans who were spending the summer at the Belle Etoile, standing at one of the booths, buying a baton Normand, a rough stick of native wood, with a head of plaited leather, and a leather loop to hold it on the arm, for they are used by the peasants in driving cattle, and they frequently want to have their hands otherwise quite free. “This will make me a good walking-stick,” said Mr. Carter, coming up to the little girls and shaking hands with them. “This is your sister back from school, eh? Well, when are you two going to take that ride with me?”

      It had been a promise of long standing that when Marie was at home, they were to go for a day’s trip in Mr. Carter’s big automobile. “Well, I must fix on a day, and let M. Auguste send word to your mamma so that you and Marie can come to the Belle Etoile, and we can start from there.”

      “Won’t it be lovely?” said Marie; “we shall feel as fine as M. Lecoq, the rich farmer who comes to market in his great auto, wearing his fur coat over his blouse, with his sabots on just as if he was in the farm wagon, riding behind his four white oxen.”

      All French working men wear the blouse. It is almost like a uniform, and by the colour of his blouse one can generally guess a man’s trade. Painters, masons, grocers, and bakers wear the white blouse; mechanics and the better class of farmers seem to prefer black, and the ordinary peasants and labourers wear.

      The blouse is made like a big full shirt, and reaches nearly to the knees. You will see men well dressed in black broadcloth, white shirts and neat ties, and over all the blouse. It is really worn now to protect the clothes, but is a survival of the olden times when all trades wore a livery. 

     At the market at Grand Andelys one could but notice the neatly dressed hair of the women folk.

      All Frenchwomen, of whatsoever class, always dress their hair neatly and prettily: and as the young girls seldom wear a hat or a bonnet, it shows off to so much better advantage. This is all very well in summer, but one wonders that they do not take cold in winter. The women wear felt slippers, and thrust their feet into their sabots, when they go out, which are not so clumsy as those of the men, dropping them at the door when they come into the house. You will always see several pairs of sabots around the entrance to the home of a French working man.

     The children by this time had got to where the calves stood in their little fenced-in enclosure. They were not put in the market by the church with the big cattle, and Germaine felt much happier when she heard that they had been sold for farm purposes, and not for veal to the big butcher in his long white apron, who stood by, jingling his long knives that hung at his side from a chain around his waist.

      As they were near the bakers’, Marie suggested they buy a brioche, and take it home to eat with their chocolate. Brioche is a very delicate bread made with eggs and milk, and is esteemed as a great delicacy. The bakery looked very tempting filled with bread of all kinds and shapes, — sticks of bread a yard long, loaves like a big ring with a hole in the middle, big flat loaves which would nearly cover a small table, twisted loaves and square loaves.

      When they had made their purchases and rejoined their mother, they found her with Madame Daboll, who told them that poor M. Masson, the wealthy mill-owner, who had been ill so long, was dead, and there was to be a grand funeral at the church of St. Sauveur the next day.

     In France great respect is paid to the dead, and funerals are conducted with as much pomp as one’s circumstances permit.

      M. Masson was connected, in one way or another, with nearly every one in the neighbourhood, and the little church of St. Sauveur was crowded with the friends and relatives all in deep black, the men wearing a band of crape on the arm. Over the church door was a sort of black lambrequin with the letter M. embroidered in silver. As the funeral passed through the streets, the “suisse,” the clergy, and the mourners, following the hearse on foot, made an impressive and solemn sight. As the cortege passed, all who met it bowed their heads or removed their hats, as is the custom all over Europe.

     The only thing out of place seemed to be the ugly wreaths made of black, white, and purple beads, with which the hearse was covered. To our taste they seem hideous, but Germaine thought the white bead lilies with black jet leaves very beautiful, for she was used to seeing the graves in the small cemetery covered with such tributes.

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