Books > Old Books > The Island Of Light (1962)


Page 29

A YEAR WITHOUT FLOWERS

they had a closer look at him. "There are no flowers growing in his beard. Just look at him ! Did you ever see such a sight in all your life? Half a beard-is that all he can manage? We don't think much of this famous emperor!"
And with that the swarm turned round and buzzed sadly away, back to France.
Not a bee was left in the whole of Oleron, and for years after there was no honey to be had at all; the islanders had to "sweeten their tea with the thumb" as the saying goes.

Page 30

THE BIG PUFF

How poor the island of Oleron was in those days !
The islanders lived on fish and bread, selling salt and wine to the mainlanders.
But when the fishing boats came back empty, when the rain ruined the salt, when the wine was selling badly, then the islanders really were in a bad way.
The wheat harvest was always gobbled up before it was even harvested-gobbled up by creditors. The baker, the grocer, the shoe-maker, the draper, the chemist, the priest, the schoolmaster-there must be plenty of others-they all came rushing along to the farms as soon as the first wheat sheaf was being threshed. They

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