Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
“Good-Night, Babette!”
 
Austin Dobson (1840–1921)
 
 
Si viellesse pouvait!
SCENE.—A small neat Room. In a high Voltaire Chair sits a white-haired old Gentleman.
MONSIEUR VIEUXBOIS.      BABETTE.

M. VIEUXBOIS  [turning querulously].

Day of my life! Where can she get?
Babette! I say! Babette!—Babette!
 
BABETTE  [entering hurriedly].

Coming, M’sieu’! If M’sieu’ speaks
So loud, he won’t be well for weeks!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS.

Where have you been?
        5
 
BABETTE.

        Why, M’sieu’ knows:—
April!… Ville-d’ Avray!… Ma’am’selle Rose!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS.

Ah! I am old,—and I forget.
Was the place growing green, Babette?
 
BABETTE.

But of a greenness!—yes, M’sieu’!
        10
And then the sky so blue!—so blue!—
And when I dropped my immortelle,
How the birds sang!  [Lifting her apron to her eyes.
        This poor Ma’am’selle!
 
M. VIEUXBOIS.

You ’re a good girl, Babette, but she,—
        15
She was an Angel, verily.
Sometimes I think I see her yet
Stand smiling by the cabinet;
And once, I know, she peeped and laughed
Betwixt the curtains…        20
        Where ’s the draught?  [She gives him a cup.
Now I shall sleep, I think, Babette;—
Sing me your Norman chansonnette.
 
BABETTE [sings].

    Once at the Angelus
      (Ere I was dead),        25
    Angels all glorious
      Came to my Bed;—
    Angels in blue and white
      Crowned on the Head.
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [drowsily].

She was an Angel … Once she laughed…
        30
What, was I dreaming?
        Where ’s the draught?
 
BABETTE  [showing the empty cup].

The draught, M’sieu’?
 
M. VIEUXBOIS.

        How I forget!
I am so old! But sing, Babette!        35
 
BABETTE  [sings].

    One was the Friend I left
      Stark in the Snow;
    One was the Wife that died
      Long,—long ago;
    One was the Love I lost …        40
    How could she know?
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [murmuring].

Ah, Paul!… old Paul!… Eulalie too!
And Rose … And O!… the sky so blue!
 
BABETTE  [sings].

    One had my Mother’s eyes,
      Wistful and mild;        45
    One had my Father’s face;
      One was a Child:
    All of them bent to me,—
      Bent down and smiled!
 
He is asleep!        50
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  [almost inaudibly].

        How I forget!
I am so old … Good night, Babette!
 

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