"And the sweet-briers, father Pantois? They are fine this year, eh?"
"There are some that are fine; there are some that are not so fine; there are almost all sorts, Monsieur Lanlaire. Indeed, one can scarcely choose. And they are hard to pull up, you can believe. And besides, Monsieur Porcellet will not let us take them from his woods any more. We have to go a long way now to find them, a very long way. If I were to tell you that I come from the forest of Raillon,—more than three leagues from here? Yes, indeed, Monsieur Lanlaire."
While the good man was talking, Monsieur had taken a seat at the table beside him. Gay, almost uproarious, he slapped him on the shoulder, and exclaimed:
"Five leagues! you are a jolly good one, father Pantois. Always strong, always young."
"Not so much as that, Monsieur Lanlaire; not so much as that."
"Nonsense!" insisted Monsieur, "strong as an old Turk,—and good-humored, yes, indeed! They don't make any more like you these days, father Pantois. You are of the old school, you are."
The old man shook his head, his gaunt head, of the color of old wood, and repeated:
"Not so much as that. My legs are weakening, Monsieur Lanlaire; my arms are getting soft. And then my back. Oh! my confounded back!