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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Austin Dobson 1840–1921

“Good-Night, Babette!”


Si viellesse pouvait!
SCENE.—A small neat Room. In a high Voltaire Chair sits a white-haired old Gentleman.

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!


Where have you been?


Why, M’sieu’ knows:—

April!… Ville-d’ Avray!… Ma’am’selle Rose!


Ah! I am old,—and I forget.

Was the place growing green, Babette?


But of a greenness!—yes, M’sieu’!

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!


You ’re a good girl, Babette, but she,—

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…

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),

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…

What, was I dreaming?

Where ’s the draught?

BABETTE[showing the empty cup].

The draught, M’sieu’?


How I forget!

I am so old! But sing, Babette!


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 …

How could she know?

M. VIEUXBOIS[murmuring].

Ah, Paul!… old Paul!… Eulalie too!

And Rose … And O!… the sky so blue!


One had my Mother’s eyes,

Wistful and mild;

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!

I am so old … Good night, Babette!