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If only it were that simple Posted by on May 29, 2018 in Culture, Grammar, Literature, Vocabulary

My son will be 24 years old next month! He is my pride and joy, but raising a boy did have its challenges. Like many parents, I was always looking for just the right way to guide him on the path to adulthood (and to good manners, behavior, and grades!) If only I’d come across this little story sooner.

I’ve used the “hidden text” technique again so you can practice your skills without relying on my translations. If you want to see the English, just use your mouse to highlight the hidden text below the French text. Let me know what you think in the comments.


On avait coupé des peupliers au bord d'un ruisseau profond, et ils étaient tombés les uns dans l'eau, les autres en travers du ruisseau.
Someone had cut down some poplar trees along a deep stream, and they were lying some in the water and others across the stream.
Le petit Théodore, en passant par là, quitta sa mère pour courir sur les troncs d'arbres
Little Teddy, passing that way, left his mother to run on the logs
et passer sur l'autre rive, où il voyait des fleurs charmantes; et pourtant sa mère le lui défendait!
to get to the other side of the stream, where he saw some lovely flowers; even though his mother forbid it.
Le petit désobéissant fit un faux pas et tomba dans l'eau.
The little disobedient one took a wrong step and fell in the water.
La pauvre mère poussa un cri; le grand frère de Théodore se jeta dans le ruisseau et le retira tout transi de peur et de froid.
The poor mother cried out; Teddy's big brother threw himself into the stream and pulled him, frightened and cold, out of the stream.
Quand Théodore vit sa mère pâle et tout en larmes, il lui promit de ne plus faire d'imprudence et de toujours l'écouter.
When Teddy saw his mother, all pale and weeping, he promised never to be careless again and to always listen to her.

L’imprudence can be translated as negligence, carelessness, or even recklessness.

Here is some useful vocabulary to help you with this tale.

le ruisseaustream
l'arbre (m)tree
la fleurflower
la mèremother
le frèrebrother
tomberto fall
la peurfear

Do you recognize the predominant verb tense used here? This little tale of woe uses the passé simple. It’s less and less common these days, but was the tense for writing about the past, well, in the past!

La semaine prochaine / Next week

We’ll have a short tale pour les petites filles parmi vous (for the little girls among you).

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.

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This weeks photo by Anton Atanasov from Pexels (CC0 license).


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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris


  1. Jeanne:

    C’est une fleur:)

    • Tim Hildreth:

      @Jeanne Et oui! Merci, Jeanne.