The old man was standing cautiously behind the table on which he displayed the treasures of the passage's bookshop: used English paperbacks, bound photocopies, ancient and incomplete collections of newspapers. He might have been seventy, maybe more. Above his balding head dangled a sign that said “Au Singe Vert, passage de l'Eden.” I opened books at random, leafing through the pages without reading, careful not to tear the brittle paper.
“Do you have a map of Saigon, I mean from around 1945, 1946.”
He stood expressionless, a thin wisp of gray hair on his wrinkled forehead. He had dry, sallow skin and dark watery eyes. There was something sickly repellent about him. Eventually he leaned forward and extracted from a drawer a bundle of yellowish photocopies—marine maps, geological maps, maps of roads that no longer existed. He handed me one.
“1952,” he said. “There are differences, but . . .”
I paid for the map, a faded copy of The Quiet American, and the Kim Van Kieu, the legendary epic, the epitome of the Vietnamese soul.
“I'll be back,” I said.
“Of course you will.”
He did not smile, nor did he shake my hand. He shuffled away without a sound into the darkness of the passage.
Ever since I had landed in Saigon, I had been walking in a trance, trailing memories of things I had never known, living off a strange familiarity that lingered with me into the heart of night, when I was kept awake by the damp heat seeping through the city.
Nearly sixty years ago, my father and his comrades had first caught sight of Saigon as their ship was wading through the grey slimy waters of the river. A scattered mass of human flesh, burnt tires, and wooden debris floated in the ripples of their wake, while in the distance fires lit up the sky. Later on, sweaty in their brand-new British uniforms with a tiny French badge on the sleeve, they had walked through the deserted streets of this phantom city they had been told they were “liberating.”
I went by Grall Hospital, old rue Lagrandière. I was born there, if I was to trust the map that was folded inside my pocket. As I was looking through the gates, it so happened that a woman was quietly humming, pushing a baby carriage. Two boys chasing each other froze when they saw me.
Once or twice I sat in an Internet café and sipped lemonade while schoolgirls in jean shorts got their kicks out of modern communism: vietfun.com.
Reading history books, I had vainly tried to track down my father's role: a soldier who had never really fought, a journalist for a military newspaper before becoming a projectionist, who wandered aimlessly across the country with a heavy metal suitcase containing the large rolls of French or American war movies, a sixteen-millimeter DeBries projector, and a change of light bulbs.
“Was he fearless?” I had once asked my mother.
She had recoiled.
“Yes, he was fearless, but in a most stupid way. I understand someone who is ready to die for a cause. He too was ready to die, but for nothing.”
She had caught a glimpse of my sorry eyes.
“I did not mean that, André. It's just that . . . Well, yes, I guess you could say he was a courageous man.”
The damage was done.
I walked back to the passage of Eden, caught up in the sentimental notion I might see the old bookseller again.
“I was expecting you,” he said with surprising intensity. “I wanted to talk to you.”
We sat on two of those colored plastic chairs that are everywhere on the city's sidewalks. He served me a cup of tea. It was lukewarm and bitter.
“Your father,” he said, “was called Pierre Garnier.”
It was then that I found, just as I was about to leave Saigon, the first traces of what I had almost given up on finding.
“I was born here,” said the old man. “I am like this passage where the old cinema is gone, where old shops have closed down one after the other, and where the only memory is the smell of urine. It will be cleaned up soon: they will sell jewelry and hamburgers here, but I'll be gone, gone for good. We understand each other, don't we?”
I mumbled we did, not knowing what he meant.
“When I saw you coming I experienced the fright of my life. I have encountered all sorts of things, many unspeakable, but I have never faced a specter, who travels through time in order to hold you accountable. You had that uncertain demeanor, that troubled look, and yet you were full of hope—and you were squinting at the passage of Eden as if you were looking for something. I, Nguyen Van Khiem, knew what it was and that made me shiver. There was a time to keep silent, and now is the time to speak—so let it be.
“Before telling you why, I must tell you who I am. My father was set on having me learn French although he was a stubborn nationalist. I attended a Catholic school. The good Fathers were exacting in such an unswerving way they won our admiration. It was the time when the French had relented in their insistence on having us refer to 'our ancestors the Gauls.' We were introduced to a careful selection of our national heroes together with their own icons: Charlemagne coupled with the Trung Sisters, Louis the XIV with King Ly Thai Tho. Obviously, any ties to a Vietnamese national identity became more discreet as the teaching caught up with the modern era. The heroes whose names we whispered had been jailed, exiled, murdered by the French. I sat for the baccalaureate in 1945 and I still recall my philosophy exam. Bergson and creative evolution. It was not part of the program but I still succeeded in getting top grades.”
A glowing vanity fleetingly went through his eyes and I took pity on him. I pursed my lips, nodding my approval and my awe.
“Just imagine! It was not even in the program!”
He grinned before resuming.
“My father died because of his heart condition. My mother had plenty of energy but I had to work, to make enough to feed the family. I still recall what my father said shortly before he died, as we saw his skin shrinking on his cheeks like old parchment: 'Never compromise! Never!' He had the drive and ardor of a revolutionary, that same faith, that same unyielding will—which just goes to show not only the Robespierres of this world are endowed with those virtues, but also humble men. But they had been buried in him, trampled on throughout his life and it took the coming of death to reveal their enduring strength. When he passed away, we had nothing. 'Never compromise! Never!' I began collaborating with the French, feeling ashamed, but my sisters' hunger was greater than my shame. I remember my 'lady boss,' a French officer's wife, a sour, peevish woman who sent me on errands without glancing at me. 'You take lady boss to shoe shop Filippini street.' 'Like good old days, Kim' (it is not that she could not pronounce my name, Khiem, but she wasn't even trying), 'everything like good old days and everyone happy, n'est-ce pas?' I think she was just plain stupid, but sometimes thick-minded people have a sharp instinct. 'Like good old days!' I can hear the echo of those words in the damp and deserted streets!
“Like all Frenchmen, you probably want to believe we miss you, you have colonial dreams of the 'good old days'—but I am not one of those people from the North who, with a smile, will tell you just the opposite of what they are really thinking. Because I speak French, many of your fellow countrymen enjoy talking to me freely, and so do I because I enjoy the music of your language. Your language—that of your writers and poets—not your arrogance, your contempt, your ignorance! Even to this day I can catch in a single look the arrogance of the past. It has not changed. The modern capitalist is no vulgar colonialist, but under the guise of efficiency, he still brutalizes us with his demands and his rule. Of course my country annoys me, but it is my country . . . . Let me detest it, but let foreigners respect it, let them glean a hint of what makes us live and die, what scares us, before rushing to the conclusion that we are lazy or vain.”
The frail man's voice was shrill and he was shaking from an anger directed at no one in particular—at any rate, not at me.
“You will forgive me. I will be grateful if you pour me some tea.”
He grabbed the cup with all the firmness he could summon. His lips opened three or four times in a nervous twitch; then he dipped them into the dark bitter liquid.
“Your father arrived in September 1945, with the first Frenchmen, those that were called 'new' and became 'old' as soon as they'd walked up rue Catinat to the Cathedral. Sometime during the Fall, a friend told me the French were looking for a caretaker, to work in this little newspaper office in the passage of Eden. He had to open the gate in the morning and close the gate in the evening, run errands during the day, serve tea, and pander to Miss Thiep, the secretary. Had to speak French, of course, and be, as my friend put it, of a 'swift and discreet disposition.' I did not ask what the paper was about. Do not ask questions if you will not like the answers, right?
“I took a liking to your father right away. He was the first Frenchman who considered me as a human being, and not as a little nho you stroke as you would a pet, or a boy you bark at. He did not talk to me much, he wasn't trying too hard with me and that's precisely what I liked. He was running all the time but the little he had for me was straightforward. 'Hello' meant 'hello,' and if he paused to ask me how I was, he waited for my answer. It is with him that I learned the delicate and useless art of French manners. Mind you, it isn't something that my 'lady boss' would have taught me. I observed your father without him seeing me—how he moved, how he got carried away, how he asked questions. The other guy, Tikhomirov, well, he was different. He spoke a little Vietnamese, he was no ordinary colonialist. He said self-deprecatingly that he was a 'yellow Russian.' He reminded me of those white folks who were constantly harping on about their Motherland but who were incapable of returning. 'In another year,' when they would make another 100,000 piaster, but that time never came. They lived in the illusion that they knew us better than we did ourselves, they rambled on about the annamite soul. Maybe I'm a little harsh on Tikhomirov—but he was a cold sort of bastard.
“Thiep, she cracked me up. I don't know who'd found her, but with her hair in a bun and her pinched lips, she was one of those Vietnamese ladies who spend their days in front of a mirror, mimicking her French boss. She even spoke French to me when the others were around. She had to be sure that no one would overhear her speak Vietnamese. A true, pitiful 'same as French,' as we used to call them. But I found her amusing, so I could not really hate her.
“I had been working in the passage of Eden for a few weeks when I received the letter. I destroyed it right away, only after learning it by heart. This is what it said :
Saigon Cholon assassination committee December 12, 1945
Nguyen Van Khiem. Your father was a lackey of the French colonialists and he died before he could be punished properly. You are following the same shameful path as him, but fate will not be as merciful to you. If you do not reform yourself thoroughly, you will be destroyed by the following means: 1. Knife. 2. Gun. 3. Poison, or for that matter any other means the People in Anger will deem appropriate to settle your case. You have only one way left to spare yourself from having the “Viet Gian” tag of a traitor tied up to the ankle of your corpse, and that is to do what you will soon be told. In the meantime, be merciful for your undeserved fortune: it will happen only once. And meditate upon your death: it will come sooner than you think.
“From that day on, I expected the delivery of the 'message' with mixed hope and fear, feeling that if it did not come I would have to meet my death first, but that if it came, I would not just be asked to pick up some incense and paper money at a pagoda in Gia Dinh . . .
“One night, after I had closed the gate, as I was walking past the cinema, a man grabbed me by the arm and dragged us both inside. I remember the movie, although not the title. It was the story of a lady who could turn herself into a tigress and could not refrain from killing the men she loved, because of some ancient curse. While this otherwise decent person was struggling with her demons, I heard what I did not want to hear. I would have happily swapped my part for hers. But there was no way out. So I enjoyed the movie till the end and braced myself to do what I had to do.
“I drifted through the day after with the impression that this was the last day of my life. My prayers to Buddha Avalokitesvara, the savior, the compassionate, did not bring me any solace. I kept on rehashing the words of the letter: any other means the People in Anger will deem appropriate. I did not hesitate for a split second because I had no choice. In our world, manners do not exist: only positions. My position was such that I had to obey. My only torture was that if things went according to plan there would be only one victim: your father. It was all about on which side the chips would fall and there was not a thing I could do, save prayer, to change the odds.
“Evening came. Now the passage was empty; little Thuy Anh, who liked to be called Rosine, closed her sewing and fitting shop and Truong his secondhand shop. There was the sound of the bookseller's wooden shutters. All went suddenly quiet and on a normal day I would sit on the chair, in front of the closed gate, reading books or papers and magazines.
“But that night I could not read. I kept on looking from one side of the passage to the other. Of course I could not see anyone but I knew that scores of eyes were upon me and the communist leaders from the South, Tran Van Giau and Nguyen Binh in person, were following me to decide whether I was a true Vietnamese or a scumbag, a traitor. I was being watched, scrutinized not only from the outside, but also from the inside. They would miss none of my moves, my changes of heart, the tremors of my soul. I was theirs.
“I had believed this horrible impression to be limited to that day, that last day, but it wasn't. On the contrary it settled into my life and never left me. Even now, as I am talking to you, I am wondering if I'm not being spied upon, if the man from the cinema is not going to show up and take me into custody to find out what I was talking to you about for such a long time . . .
“I told you I could not read that day. So I did what had been asked of me, in the order that had been asked. I took my bicycle, rode it to Dakao, hid the bike in a passage, and went on foot to the place where your father and Tikhomirov used to live. I had learned my line by heart: 'There has been an accident in the passage of Eden. You have to come right now.'
“There was no leeway for hesitation, I had to be my usual shy self, be the Khiem they knew, only panic-stricken, needing their help to face a situation I did not understand. I knew exactly how to achieve what I had to do. Ha! Tran Van Giau and Nguyen Binh could not have chosen me by accident! This did not keep from wobbling on my legs as I was getting close to the rue Paul Bert, where they lived. The only thing that could have betrayed me was my shudder of joy when the owner, sitting in front of her place eating pho (she was a lady from the North), pointed out Tikhomirov to me—and not your father—smoking by himself and drinking beer. La bière Larue, la bière qui tue, the joke among soldiers went. The beer that kills: never had the slogan seemed so accurate. I spoke Vietnamese first, then French. If Tikhomirov was upset, he did not show it. Come to think of it, my sentence was equivocal and he could have grilled me: what was the nature of this accident that demanded his urgent visit? In the unraveling of the story, I was where I was and he was where he was, we both played our bit parts, the only difference was that I knew the plot and he didn't. He hailed a cyclo on the Paul Bert street, and I followed on my bicycle.
“The passage of Eden was in the dark but Tikho (as they called him) was not easily scared. He did not ask anything. We walked in front of the cinema and reached the gate. I had left it half-open, there was light inside. He had just the time to step inside and to cry 'what is . . .'—they had already grabbed him, choked him, and cut his throat. I was standing behind him, feeling nothing but vague repulsion, the view was not very different from the killing of ducks and chickens I'd seen my grandma perform when I was a boy. When they let go of his body, there was a soft thump and he fell on my feet, I had to kick into him, like in soccer, to get clear. God, he was heavy! They laughed, a laugh as silent as the night. I gaped at them as if it was now my turn, the two lads with the dark skin of the Khmer people, two peasants from the delta lost in the big city, and they could not figure out why I was not laughing with them, it would have annoyed them if they'd known what I was thinking. Eventually they signaled me to leave. I wavered, I had the key of the lock in my hand and I knew I would never be back, so I threw it at Tikho in a slow curve, as if he could have caught it. It bounced off his shoulder and landed on the tile floor; it was over.
“The two guys were getting restless and one of them hit me in the back. Once I was in the street I realized that the key on the floor would incriminate me as surely as my fingerprints on Tikho's neck would have. In purely political terms, it was better if the French knew. Behind the placid gaze of each boy, behind the smile of the coolie or the bep, behind the hushed and submissive words of their well-trained employees, were lurking would-be murderers. If it had ever been, this country was not their home anymore.
“My instructions were to leave town immediately and go to Mytho, in the Mekong Delta, where I would be taken care of by a local group and drilled in my new revolutionary tasks. Up until then, I had not been able to picture that moment: since dawn I had been living like a dead man. But, relieved from my duty, freed from the two peasants who had vanished somewhere in the city, I found myself endowed with a second life I was not prepared for. I was a reincarnation, with a foggy remembrance of who I had been minutes before, and I had to run toward my new life. I was incapable of running, my feet stuck like a crane's in the silt—I was alive but deprived of any survival instinct.
“All night along I wandered, refusing absurdly to stray away from rue Catinat. The French had repealed the curfew, but a Vietnamese vagabond at night was no doubt looking for trouble. Quite frankly I did not mind, I felt myself floating adrift in between two worlds, neither belonging to one or the other. As long as the night would last, I would be safe.
“The following morning, I caught a glimpse of agitation in the passage and I understood they had found the body. Hours went by; having taken cover under a porch, I saw the flurry of policemen and snitches. It was dawning on me that my new life was the life of a rat. My one night of freedom had gone, my body was aching all over, but I still could not move. Toward evening, at last, I saw your father arrive. He looked drained and exhausted. I briefly saw the child he must have been and I felt for him. You see, in this murder, he and I were the two sides of the same coin. For the Vietnamese of the Committee, it was a perfectly rational political assassination; for the French, a terrorist crime. But to get a full picture, you had to imagine the victim giving a hand to the murderer in some secret alliance. You find this notion despicable for lofty moral reasons; yes, it is indeed chilling to feel how close you are to the one who kills you, puts you to torture, leads you to destruction, terrifying to realize that to stare at him is to stare at yourself.
“When I saw your father, I felt an impulse to run toward him. How could I tell him that I knew everything? I walked out of my hiding place and crossed the street. He caught sight of me and smiled, his usual morning smile; for a second I think he saw me as the one person he could share his grief with. Then the smile fell from his face, he moved his hand, not a threatening move—it was to stop me, to keep me from getting closer. I could feel the sudden surge of conflicting emotions: he could have hugged me, beaten me up, and he was just petrified. We were facing each other, fatefully bound by what had happened. Then someone jostled him, I darted off and he made a dash to catch up with me. He was not screaming and the passersby had a strange view of two statues who had mysteriously started to move for reasons unknown to all. It was in a way harder to elude him in this silence, through this listless crowd. I kept running for a long time, ran till I reached the black water arroyo, elbowing my way amid the old men sitting in front of their rickety straw huts, splashed by the children playing half naked in the puddles of mud, madly galloping over the quiet Chinese checkers players whose pawns I overturned, ran till I could run no more. When I turned around my lungs were burning and I slowly lay down on my back, expecting him to take my neck into his thin and powerful hands and to strangle me as I had let his brother be strangled, fully accepting this just retribution as the final deed in a perfectly harmonious chain of related events.
“I saw no one, nothing—just way above me the pale face of the moon. Three days later I was in Mytho and I began another life.”
The tea was now cold in our cups and we had been here so long, sitting on our small chairs, that we did not attract attention anymore. He had been speaking without looking at me, his eyes flying down Dong Khoi street, toward the river and beyond, only worriedly squinting at me here and there, as if I, too, was about to jump at his throat and settle God knows what scores for some old crime. His upper lip was quivering and I saw he had bad yellow teeth and his hands were deformed by arthritis. He was just a tired old man.
“I only came back years later to the passage of Eden, when rue Catinat was not yet Dong Khoi but Tu Do. For a few days I did not dare come in. There must have been some mean spirits or ghouls roaming around. I spied on every single person who came into the passage or walked out of it. On every face I saw a destiny akin to mine and if I had lingered there for too long, I would have been overwhelmed by this knowledge, the sum of sufferings, the streams of spilled blood. I had posted myself right under the same porch where, years earlier, I had been in hiding, just beyond the terrace of the Continental, and I watched every shadow with every passerby wave at me from a distant past, I saw our soldiers in khaki green, I saw the black caps with a golden anchor, I saw the impeccable white outfits of the Navy officers, saw the Japanese sabers and under their large brimmed hats the inscrutable deep eyes of the Gurkha killers, those we feared most because they killed on demand in cold-blooded ruthlessness.
“I saw the sun rise and set, its light blinking through the tamarind trees. The ancient world kept on moving under the new: there were Chinese whores with long slit skirts, beggars, old hags tiptoeing, hanging on to their umbrellas and even a mandarin, lost from an even more ancient time—and there was the peasant woman, arrived the same morning from her village with her heavy hampers, loaded with pineapples, coconuts, bananas and lotus flowers.
“I could get into the passage only at dusk. It was used as a parking lot for bikes and motorcycles. The cinema had been closed down but the sign was still there, with a poster for an Indian movie. I knew that I would spend the rest of my life in the place where it had begun, where I had met the strangeness of others, the fear of dying.
“It was a time when huge libraries could be bought off for a few dollars—and you could find wheelbarrows of my beloved magazines for nothing. No one cared about those remnants: they were too old to wipe our asses with, and anyway everyone was too busy surviving. It took a survivor like me to secretly conceal my treasures in different spots in the city, my bound books, my old maps; I was able to excel in the very qualities for which I had been hired, my 'swift and discreet disposition.' Everything could be bought, everything could be sold, provided you lay low.
“As the books disappeared, so did my fear. You see, I have almost nothing left, and my anguish is almost gone too. People ask me for maps of old Saigon—like you did—but they never want any of those wonderful and absurd maps your colonial administration spent years designing. The changes in the climate, the flow of rivers, the crops of rice, ethnic minorities, there was no escaping your tireless gaze. Even when your colonial empire was but a far memory, you were still printing those maps, those splendid atlases, in formats impossible to handle, that flaunted the memory of what was gone, what had maybe never existed except in your florid imagination. Ha! The time of your innocence! We had been fascinated by your mad dreamers, your crazy adventurers, your missionaries, all exiled from a continent of young hungry predators. They had thrived on our blood like warriors, but their grandchildren sucked it like leeches. We developed a respectful loathing for your father and his comrades, with their quick eyes and their sullen souls, come to wage an unjust war with justice in their hearts. You haven't gotten over that, have you? Pour some tea for me, please.”
I had a fleeting thought for Joseph Conrad's hero, the bottomless thirst of the narrator.
“I haven't either. Do not confuse this with any sort of regret we might nurture. How could we regret? even with this regime in which conversations are held late at night, in hushed voices, in the shared intimacy of drunkenness, when we are sure no truth will be heard and repeated. Like you, we have imposed on ourselves a silence that has pervaded every fiber of our being. Now that our countries are on friendly terms again (which means that your country pays what it's asked and feigns to ignore what it sees), silence is more than ever the only possibility. Only soldiers of the past wars are grinning because they know what war is about: the French come back on the trail of their defeats, guided by their Vietnamese victors. They drink beer together, they tell each other stories like kids who have been playing and fighting in the same sandpit, have quarreled, squabbled, and fifty years later realize they have never been able to share similar intensity with any other man.
“But for the others, what is their part? Silence. It is not their opinions we would like to hear, but quite simply the sound of their voices, the line of the cracks in their intimacy, the tale of their upset lives. History has sent one on one side and rejected his brother on the other side, offered one the award of Socialist excellence and a holiday in Beijing, while his friend got seven years of labor camps and political commissars; it has exiled one to France, another to Poland or Australia, while another, like me, stayed here, maybe by choice, maybe out of weakness. You see, one of my sons is in America making money. When times were dire, my wife and I were like hundreds of thousands in this country, we would have done anything to join him. Ready to leave, ready to die. And then came this incredible piece of news: we had the right to be reunited with him. We went once, to this America that had become home to him and his family, with two children who did not speak Vietnamese and were embarrassed to be with their grandparents who did not speak English. We went and we came back, preferring to be unhappy on our land than happy anywhere else in the world. Around me, I see things change so quickly, I see those self-assured girls with their miniskirts, boys in jeans and leather jackets, motorcycles in the place of bicycles, towers built where there were houses. Sometimes I feel I'm the only who feels the void that's below us, hears the noisy silence that's inside us. Some do not understand what I told you about the two sides of the coin; they dig up in their own hearts the open wound of the past. It will come back, generation after generation, to haunt those who have pretended to ignore it. I like this expression, 'a skeleton in the closet.' So many skeletons in so many closets. Will we all just pass by, pinching our noses, ignoring the stench? For how long? Maybe forever after all, maybe no one will show up and tell the story, maybe our glorious independence will wind up spawning only a monster child: a people with our color and our skin, who will have lost his soul, his pained and whining soul, his impassioned and sad soul. Pour more tea, please, I'm begging you, give me some of that cold tea whose bitterness soothes my throat, pour and pour again. I wrote to my son, you know, who for T't had been able just to send an e-mail. I wrote him a long letter saying I would not die without returning to the lands in the delta that had been the lands our family lived on. I told him he could help me find a grave that once was ours. A grave! To find a grave! It isn't too much to ask, is it? Or maybe it is. My son has not replied yet.
“Believe me, I am not confessing a crime to you because it is a burden on my heart; your guilt business is very foreign to me. It is just that I believe in ghosts and you are one. And also, we have something to share, even if this is not what you came looking for, even if in a few minutes you will be gone and we will never see each other again. The emptiness inside me is growing and I can see my own eyes upturned in death; so you will have to forgive me a few solemn verbose words. But I will not run forever ahead of your father and try to escape from him. The chase is over because I decide so: I stop here and so does he. I think we may both stay seated, drinking cold tea with a bitter taste, and in the cloak of silence make ourselves ready for oblivion.”
All had passed so fast, like shadows on a wall. There would remain the old man, perfectly still, his hand trembling, who may have spoken not to anyone but himself, in a foreign language I did not understand. I felt the weight of exhaustion closing my eyelids but it was not an unpleasant sensation. After months of sleepless nights and nightmares, I could sleep again. What had I learned about my father? In hard substance, in my quest for a hero or a bastard, not much. Fleeting images: his innocent gaze, his body like a statue in the same street I was in now. But for the first time I had had him in a moment of true intimacy.
“Pour some tea, please, one last time. And then you may go.”
I poured. Only a few drops of a greenish-black liquid were left; it must have been extremely bitter. He dipped his dry lips and, at last, turned his face toward me. In the darkness I could not see his eyes.
He stood up abruptly, putting away his maps and books, the bound photocopies, the torn paper jackets. In a swift move his hand slid over mine and then he was gone.
I walked down the street to the river and sat there, looking at nothing, remembering that in his agony, as his gazeless eyes turned to death with the amazement of a newborn baby, my father had just said: “I've got things to say.” I had been left alone with his things to say.
Adapted by the author from his French original, “Passage de l'Eden.” By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.