French Language Blog

Follow the leader Posted by on Aug 21, 2018 in Grammar, Vocabulary

This is the fourth post in my on-going series of lessons for young people from the depths of the 19th century. The French aren’t the only ones to have had interesting ideas about the roles of les garçons et les filles (boys and girls) or about how les enfants (children/kids) should behave, but these stories give us a unique view into their thinking!

L’Obéissance / Obedience (Fidelity)

La nourrice d’Aline lui avait promis de l’emmener manger du raisin à sa vigne;
Aline’s nanny had promised to take her out to eat some grapes from the vine;
mais la mère dit qu’il n’était pas raisonnable de sortir par la grande chaleur.
But her mother said that it wasn’t reasonable to go out in such heat.
Aline avait si grande envie d’aller avec sa nourrice,
Aline wanted so to go with her nanny,
qu’elle se mit plusieurs fois en route pour la vigne;
That she (even) started out for the vines a number of times;
mais elle s’arrêta toujours au détour du chemin, et revint sur ses pas.
But arriving at the turn in the path, she stopped and retraced her steps back (to the house).
A dîner, sa mère lui dit :
At dinner her mother said to her:
«Ma fille, tu as l’air bien satisfait: que t’est-il donc arrivé d’heureux?
« My girl (daughter), you seem quite satisfied: what is it that has you so happy?”
—Maman, je vous ai obéi, quoiqu’il m’en ait coûté beaucoup, et je suis bien plus satisfaite que si j’étais allée à la vigne de ma nourrice.
« Mother, I obeyed you (today), even though it cost me, and I am so much happier than if I had gone to the vine of my nanny.
—C’est que, mon enfant, la satisfaction de la conscience est la première de toutes les satisfactions.»
« You see, my child, a clear conscience is the greatest of happinesses.”
This story comes from Project Gutenberg, a source of free digital books. You can learn more and find French stories and more on your own here.

* I’ve translated conseil as recommendation, but it can also mean advice, and also council (both in the figurative sense and literal).

Photo credit [CC0] by Luiz M. Santos from Pexels

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Since my first trip to France at 16, I have been a passionate francophile. I love the language, food, music, art, people, and more that make France and la Francophonie in general such an amazing part of our global community. Having lived in France and studied the language and culture for over 35 years, it is my great pleasure to be able to share a little bit of my deep love with you through this blog.