Still at the airfield. Major Tacy-Turn allows himself a small fifteen-minute break. Balancing comfortably in a rocking-chair in the sun, he relishes the solitude, peace and quiet, his pipe, and begins to snore.
...When the sound of a two-stroke engine jolts him awake. A motorcycle messenger makes an entrance in a whirlwind of dust, describes a wild turn, leaps from his machine, and hands the officer a large package and an envelope. The package contains a newly developed camera for aerial photography. In the envelope are orders to immediately test the apparatus by photographing the German trenches from above.
For the first time in his life, the Major regrets being alone. He can't both pilot an aeroplane and take photgraphs. Perplexity. He asks the motorcyclist if he can fly with him. No, the motorcyclist has other orders to deliver. He'll be back in three hours to pick up the photos. And, climbing onto his motorcycle, he tears off as fast as he came.
"Complicated!" says the Major.
After having locked up the camera and his orders, he refills his pipe, takes his swagger stick in hand, and leaves the camp.
SECOND ACT.The road between the camp and BLANK.
Dramatis Personae. The Major. A Farmer. Jean-Jean, the Farmer's son. Farmers and Servants. Bécassine.
The Major advances double-quick time. This is what he does when he has an ambarrassing problem to resolve. The march brings him ideas. He lengthens his stride to catch up with a woman walking ahead of him, and wonders where he has seen he before. At the moment he passes, she turns.
The Major: "Oi! The chatterbox!"
Bécassine: "The nasty officer!"
Frightened, she breaks into a run.
She soon arrives at a farm. A large turkey is strutting about in the road.
Concealed behind an embankment, the farmer and his son Jean-Jean are on the look-out. The reason is that, for several days, their poultry has been disappearing, one by one. They promise themselves that they're going to catch the poultry-thief. The turkey is bait to allow them to find out who it is. Naturally, the honest Bécassine hasn't the least suspicion of all that.
She sees the turkey. She judges that it's in danger of being run over by the first car to come along. She takes it upon herself to get it back to the farmyard. And so, as the bird won't take direction, she puts her arms around it and lifts it with difficulty.
Out jump the farmer and Jean-Jean. "Robber!" they bellow. At the sound the farmer's wife and servants pour out of the house.
Poor Bécassine, alarmed, scolded, completely loses her head and melts into tears. Suddenly the Major intervenes in this violent scene.
The Major: "Quiet ... all of you. What's all this?"
The Farmer (timidly): "Monsieur Officer, this woman is a thief."
The Major (brightening up): "Oi! The chatterbox knows how to steal!"
Bécassine: "No, I don't steal."
The Others (in chorus): "She does! She does!"
The Major (taking Bécassine by the sleeve and leading her away): "Come along ... thieving chatterbox."
REMARK -- We should point out that the Major, who understands French imperfectly, has made a mistake, taking the verb voler* in the wrong sense, given the circumstances. We shall see the dramatic consequences of this error in the following acts.
*to fly; to steal
Back at the airfield.
Dramatis Personae. Major Tacy-Turn. Bécassine.
They enter, the one continuing to hold and drag along the other.
The Major (taking out his revolver and showing it to Bécassine): For you ... if you ... try ... to get away. (Bécassine, too intimidated to speak, makes a sign that she has no intention of trying to escape.)
The Major leaves, but soon returns in a flyer's outfit. He hands Bécassine a goat-skin coat, an aviator's helmet, and goggles, and helps her put them on. Then he shows her the camera. More by gesture than by words, but very clearly, he explains its use to Bécassine who, interested, little by little feels her terror subside, and attentively follows the demonstration.
The Major (showing her the shutter release): "I say, Go! You go, click! Understand?"
Bécassine (speaking English for the first time in her life): "Yes!"
The Major: "Good! Come on!"
They enter a hangar and find a two-seater plane.
The Major: "Push!" (They roll the aeroplane out of the hangar.)
Bécassine (to herself): "I don't feel afraid at all. He isn't mean, this officer. He just plays at being a bogeyman. He's even very nice, and it's funny that he's letting me see it."
The Major: "Climb in!"
Bécassine (getting into the observer's seat): "That's it, we're carrying on the joke! This really is funny! Never in my life did I imagine I'd be sitting in a plane! If my masters and mistresses could see me! And Uncle Corentin! And everyone at Clocher-les-Bécasse, back home!"
The Major climbs into the pilot's seat, starts the engine and takes the control. The aeroplane rolls slowly, gathering speed. Suddenly it lifts off and rises.
Bécassine (panicked once more): "Eh? What? It's for real! We're flying! I don't want to! Stop! Papa! Mama! I'm scared! I want to go down!"
The Major (cold and scornful): "Oh, be quiet! Chatterbox!"
Dramatis Personae. The Major. Bécassine.
Bécassine (now completely reassured): "I was an idiot to be afraid. It's fun to fly, and not dangerous. He flies well, the Major. It's pretty down below. It looks like a map of geography. We can hear the guns. We must not be far from the Boches. But up here in the air, we snap our fingers at them. Hold on, what are those little clouds below us?"
The Major: "Shells!"
Bécassine (startled): "Eh?"
The Major: "Shells! ... Not dangerous, poor aim! ... Attention! Photography! ... Go!"
Bécassine (in an anguished voice): "Click!" (She manoeuvres her camera.)
But worrisome noises and backfires erupt from the engine.
The Major: "Stalled! ... Serious! ... Let's try gliding." (The plane descends practically vertically.)
The Major (ever calm): "Go!"
Bécassine (in a deathly voice): "Click!"
The engine restarts, and the aeroplane swoops upward again. But the German gunfire is getting closer. The shells burst all around. The Major hasn't lost an ounce of his phlegm. Though electricfied by the danger, Bécassine regains her calm. She photographs with precision every target listed in the orders. "Go!" and "Click!" follow one another.
The Major: "Photos ... how many?"
The Major: "Enough! Returning!"
The wings tilt. Bécassine gives a shout! She believes she's about to be thrown overboard. But presently the craft stabilises, and the return is without incident.
The Japanese League Cup, formerly called the Nabisco Cup for snacking reasons, is now the Levain Cup. (Levain is really just the name of one of Nabisco's product lines.) (It's also the French word for sourdough.)
On June 21st it was the Canadian Championship final, first leg: Toronto 1 - 0 Vancouver.
On June 23th it was NSÍ Runavík 2 - 1 B36. The Faroese league now takes a month off.
Tomorrow in Euro 2016: England [1 - 2] Iceland. [Iceland are the new Brazil. (They go by their first names.) England ... England.]
Luca Gasparotto has signed with Falkirk.
[I missed this: Morton visited Dundee and played them to a 1 - 1 draw June 24th. New signing Gary Oliver scored.]
On June 24th it was Drogheda United 1 - 2 UCD. The season is at the halfway point. UCD sit in second place and the promotion playoff zone, but the chances of their catching first-place Limerick, who have not yet lost a match, are slim.
The League of Ireland First Division (which is really the second division) consists of eight clubs. When did each of them enter the First Division, and were they relegated from the Premier Division, or brought in from below?
Drogheda United 2016 (relegated)
Limerick 2016 (relegated)
Athlone Town 2015 (relegated)
UCD 2015 (relegated)
Cabinteely 2015 (newly licensed)
Shelbourne 2014 (relegated)
Cobh Ramblers 2013 (re-licensed)
Waterford United 2008 (relegated)
Clearly Waterford United are the heart and soul of this league. They are presently in sixth place.
June really is the dead end of the year in Scottish football. There are 14 dates in June on which Morton have never played, and on the other 16 they've played only one game per date. What were they up to those 16 days in June? The Summer Cup. The Summer Cup was a cup competition of the Southern League during World War Two. Morton never won the cup, but they reached the semifinals in 1943 and 1945. It was revived for two years in the early Sixties but was held in May that time.
The 2015-16 SPFL restructured by Pythagoras:
Monad (enters Champions League): Celtic.
Dyad (enters Europa League): Aberdeen, Hearts.
Triad (makes the split): St Johnstone, Motherwell, Ross County.
Tetrad (safe from relegation): Dundee, Inverness CT, Partick, Hamilton.
Pentad (promotion/relegation zone): Kilmarnock, Dundee United, Rangers, Falkirk, Hibs.
Hexad (the Championship): Raith, Morton, St Mirren, Queen of the South, Dumbarton, Livingston.
We are not yet in England. We stopped en route so that Monsieur could confer with the English general staff. Therefore he has installed us, Madame and I, at BLANK. I can't tell you where, as he reminded me to be very discrete about anywhere I go in the armed sector. So, I won't tell you the name of the town, but I'll help you work it out for yourself by giving you a rebus. You see, our town begins with A, and you get there by taking the Northern railway line. It's known for its cathedral and its duck pâté. Have you figured it out?*
We are in a small family pension. At the moment the only ones here are four women. They take their café au lait together in the morning, my mistress included, and then they head off to their hospitals or workplaces. They don't return until dinner, and all day the house is empty and lifeless. Yesterday, I tried to read, then to sew, but I was bored being alone, so I went for a walk in the town to occupy myself.
The thing I find most attractive about BLANK is the display window of the patissier that makes the famous duck pâté. I had given it a good looking-over, and was about to return, when I noticed beside me, standing on a bollard, a little duck that was also looking in the window. I don't know where it came from. I didn't see it arrive. It was looking in so seriously! Then I thought that it might be an orphan, that its parents might be in one of those pâtés, and that made me teary-eyed. And then I reflected that it was dangerous for that duck to remain where it was. I gently picked it up in my arms and decided to carry it to the country.
So there I was, going through the town. People, most of them French or English soldiers, laughed when they saw me. Some of them called, "Quack! Quack!" I laughed too, but I didn't let go of my plan, or my duck.
Upon leaving the town, I came to a lake. I imparted liberty on my little orphan. It didn't hesitate to dive into the water, and as it paddled away it turned its head and quacked. It seemed to me that it was saying thank you.
That cheered me up. I was in the mood again to do something fun. Then it came to me that I might be able to fish for frogs in this lake. I quickly made a fishing line from a bit of string, a bent pin, and a lure made of red cloth, as I'd done before back home, and I got started.
It worked very well. I caught one, two frogs. With a yank I sent the third one flying. A huge voice shouted, "Pay attention, you!" It so startled me that I dropped my line. The frog had slapped a passing soldier right in the face! I said, "Excuse me, Monsieur le militaire."
But he shouted even more furiously, "That's gendarme to you!" As if it were easy to tell a policeman from a soldier, when they all dress the same, in horizon blue or khaki.
Next, he demanded to see my papers. I brought out my safe-conduct, you know, the one with the stamps all over it. It seemed that he wasn't done yet. He explained to me that in order to walk about in the countryside I must have a red stamp. He said, with a terrible demeanour, "Grave, very grave. Contravention!" And he brought me before his superior, holding me by the arm as if I was a robber. I was ashamed.
Happily the chief was very kind! He said, "She has a nice face." And then he read over the safe-conduct, observing, "In service of an officer ... Confidential diplomatic mission ... Good ... Let's give it the red stamp." And he found a place to add another stamp to my paper.
Perhaps from seeing his boss be so agreeable, the gendarme came to regret acting so meanly. He gave me smiles and courtesies, and recommended that I push on by the same route tomorrow until I reach the English airfield, where you can see the exercises. I'll do that for sure.
FIRST ACT.An English airfield in the area of BLANK. Six o'clock in the morning. Fine weather.
Dramatis Personae. Major Tacy-Turn, camp commander. His First Lieutenant. Flyers, Country People, Bécassine.
The Major (speaking to his First Lieutenant slowly as if it takes an effort to get each word out of his mouth): Orders ... for ... the morning ... all units ... to be airborne.
The lieutenant is keen to relay the order. Right away, a joyous animation reigns in the camp. The machines are pushed out of the hangers. The engines roar and backfire. The major approaches a group of flyers eager to take their places in the aeroplanes. He stops beside a captain, second in command, who arrived at camp the day before.
The Captain: Are you squadron leader, Major?
The Major: No! ... (With effort) I'll remain in camp ... alone.
The Captain: Alone! With no one to talk to! How boring!
The Major: No ... on the contrary. (He drifts off.)
Discrete laughter in the squadron. The captain learns from his comrades that their chief, head of the flying aces, has a horror of speaking, and suffers real agonies when constrained to do so.
The aeroplanes roll onto the runway, and take flight, each one following at a fixed distance. The major watches their manoeuvres through his binoculars. Finally, the captain, the last to take flight, is away.
The Major (with an expression of intense pleasure): Alone!
At that moment his attention is directed to a clamour rising from the edge of the camp. Stolidly he fills his pipe and lights it. Then, with long strides, he heads toward the disturbance.
Beyond the fence some local villagers have gathered. They are cheering on the aircraft and their pilots. In the midst of the curious we spot Bécassine, who has come on the advice of the gendarme the day before.
Bécassine(enthusiastically shouting, gesticulating and waving her lace cap): Oh! How wonderful! ... You would think they were birds! ... Take that, Boches! ... Vivent les aviateurs! ... Vive la France! ... Vive l'Angleterre! ... Vive les Alliés!
The major is so thunderstruck by the torrent of words that for a moment he stands frozen in place. Then he marches up to Bécassine and glares at her fixedly like a liontamer with a ferocious beast.
The Major(with a violent gesture): Oi! Move along! Right now! Chatterbox! (His expression of profoundest contempt.)
Bécassine, not understanding a word, curtsies mechanically, and then runs for her life, terrified.