Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
‘Good Night, Babette!’
By Henry Austin Dobson (1840–1921)
 
‘Si vieillesse 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?

BABETTE
                        Why, M’sieu knows:—
        5
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!
And then the sky so blue!—so blue!        10
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,—
She was an Angel, verily.
Sometimes I think I see her yet        15
Stand smiling by the cabinet;
And once, I know, she peep’d and laugh’d
Betwixt the curtains …
                    Where ’s the draught?
(She gives him a cup)
Now I shall sleep, I think, BABETTE;
Sing me your Norman chansonnette.        20
 
BABETTE  (sings)
                ‘Once at the Angelus
                  (Ere I was dead),
                Angels all glorious
                  Came to my Bed;
                Angels in blue and white        25
                  Crown’d on the Head.’
 
M. VIEUXBOIS  (drowsily)
‘She was an Angel’ … ‘Once she laugh’d’ …
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!        30
 
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        35
                  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;        40
                One had my Father’s face;
                  One was a Child:
                All of them bent to me,
                  Bent down and smiled!’
(He is asleep!)

M. VIEUXBOIS  (almost inaudibly)
                How I forget!
        45
I am so old! … Good night, BABETTE!
 
 
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