Read CHAPTER LXIII of Raphael Pages Of The Book Of Life At Twenty, free online book, by Alphonse de Lamartine, on

All this, and still more, my forced leisure, the obsession of one besetting thought, my contempt for all besides, the want of money to procure other amusement, and the almost claustral seclusion in which I lived, disposed me to a life of more intense and eager study than I had yet led. I passed my whole day seated at a little writing-table, which was placed beneath the small round window opening on the yard of the Hotel Richelieu. The room was heated by a Dutch stove; a screen enclosed my table and chair, and hid me from the observation of the young men of fashion who often came to see my friend. In the spacious yard below there were sounds of carriages, then silence, and now and then bright rays of winter sun struggling against the grovelling fog of the streets of Paris, which reminded me a little of the play of light, the sounds of the wind, and the transparent mists of our mountains. Sometimes I would see a sweet little boy six or eight years old playing there; he was the son of the concierge. There was something in his face which seemed that of a suffering angel; in his fair hair curled on his forehead, and in his intelligent and ingenuous countenance, that reminded me of the innocent faces of the children of my own province. Indeed, I discovered that his family had come originally from a village near that in which my father resided, had fallen into want, and had been transplanted to Paris. This child had conceived a fondness for me, from seeing me always at the window above the rooms his mother inhabited, and had of his own accord and gratuitously devoted himself to my service. He executed all my messages; brought me my bread, some cheese, or the fruit for my breakfast; and went every morning to purchase my little provisions at the grocer’s. I used to take my frugal repast on my writing-table, in the midst of my open books or interrupted pages. The child had a black dog, which had been forgotten at the house by some visitor; this dog had ended like the child by attaching itself to me, and they could not be made to go down the little wooden stairs when once they had ascended them. During the greater part of the day, they lay and played together on the mat at my feet beneath my table. At a later period I took away the dog with me from Paris, and kept it many years, as a loving and faithful memento of those days of solitude. I lost him in 1820, not without tears, in traversing the forests of the Pontine Marshes between Rome and Terracina. The poor child is become a man, and has learned the art of engraving, which he practices ably at Lyons. My name having resounded since, even in his shop, he came to see me, and wept with joy at beholding me, and with grief at hearing of the loss of the dog. Poor heart of man! that ever requires what it has once loved, and that sheds tears of the same water, for the loss of an empire, or for the loss of an animal.