20 Pages


Byi i First Love

Usually so vague about dates, Leautaud here was correct for once. His father, Firmin Isidor Leautaud, a rakish and indiffer­ ent parent, was born on 10 Ju ly 1834. The place o f his birth was Fours, a hamlet in the lower Alps. It is a remote spot encircled by steep mountains and plunging valleys, as difficult to reach as it is to get out of. A rough mule-track links it with Barcelonnette, the nearest big town. Sheep rearing was, and is, the main local activity, which has led in turn to the establishment o f spinning mills. There is a local tradition o f emigration to Mexico, where, early last century, two brothers from the area set up a cloth business. It often happens that those who have gone to make their fortunes in Mexico return at the end o f their lives to the Alpine village in which, if they have not wanted to live there, they at least are keen to die.