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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Le Tour de la France (7)—André Makes a Map

Translated by Robert André LaFleur
Le Tour de la France par deux enfants (A Journey Around France Undertaken by Two Children) is a little 119-chapter book about French geography and culture. Written in 1877 by Augustine Fouillée (under the pseudonym G. Bruno), it was geared toward primary school students in their fourth and fifth years (cours moyen).  It has been read by generations of French students, and has played a small but important role in the development of a French national imagination. It was the little book that launched the Tour de France.

1            2            3            4            5            6            7            8            9            10            11
Click here for the introduction to Round and Square's series on this 1877 classic. 
André Makes a Map; How he Takes Advantage 
of What he Learned in School [1]

When we learn something, we never know the benefit it will bring to us someday.

The ranger Fritz approved of André's firmness and resolve. 

          —That's right. If you wish to become a man, it is necessary to get by on your own. Come, my young friend, fetch the map for me; if I am not able to walk, at least I am able to talk. You have such willpower, and I know the territory so well, that I will be able to explain your route.

Then the two of them, tipping up the map to get a closer look, studied the territory.

Julien, for his part, sat quietly with them, trying to retain what he could. The ranger— pointing to roads, trails, and shortcuts—described their route in detail. André listened, and then tried to repeat the explanations. Finally, taking a sheet of paper, he drew for himself the way they would travel, noting the various features of terrain that would serve as benchmarks on their journey.

"Here," he wrote, "is a natural spring; there, a cluster of beech trees surrounding the firs; further still, there is fast-flowing stream with a ford for crossing, a rock that skirts the trail, and a crumbling tower."

As for Fritz, no information that might help the young travelers was neglected.

          —All will be well, Fritz said to them, if you do not rush. Remember that, when on the wrong path in the woods or mountains, we must be calm, keep our minds focused, and not hurry. This is the way to find the correct path soon enough.

When dusk arrived, André and Julien set out, but not before thanking Ranger Fritz with all of their hearts. Fritz, from his bed, bade farewell and said: 

          —Courage, courage! With bravery and composure, you can overcome anything.

[1] Chapter seven is another of the few in the book with no illustration.

The Path Through the Forest
The children make their trek through the mountain woods, never failing to learn about the world wherever they go. 

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