I call it, “Jeune âne rougissante,” said Blurtso. It’s lovely, said Harlan, does she have any elephant friends?
At this point in the novel, said Blurtso, Echo has left her island to go in search of Blurtseau. After meeting a pig named Winston in England, the two cross the channel to France and make their way to Paris…
As Winston and Echo made their way through the streets of Paris, they began to feel more and more uneasy. They had never imagined there were so many people in the world. Everywhere they turned, they saw larger and larger crowds, parades of feet hurrying to some urgent destination, and every one of them was speaking a language neither Echo nor Winston could understand. The only word they knew was the name of the town where Blurtseau had lived, Roquebrune. And so, hoping someone might recognize the town and point them in the proper direction, they stood on a corner repeating that single word, “Roquebrune? Roquebrune? Roquebrune?”
Of course, it was highly unlikely that any of the passersby would recognize the name of a town of 500 inhabitants, 400 kilometers to the south; a principality that had just become a part of France. As a result, Echo’s and Winston’s inquiries elicited nothing more than puzzled looks and an occasional hungry glance, a glance that made Winston tremble, remembering his nightmarish experience in the Butcher’s Shop. Echo, too, was frightened by the things she saw, and by the din of sounds that thundered in her ears. She looked to Winston for courage, and though her friend was as panicked as she, his innate sense of self-importance, and belief he knew everything, enabled him to move confidently forward, repeating with every stride, “Roquebrune? Roquebrune? Roquebrune?”
By the end of their first day, Echo and Winston were exhausted and hungry. Though they had passed shops selling all types of food, and humans constantly engaged in the act of eating—even while they walked—Echo and Winston had not stumbled across a single discarded crumb until they chanced upon a plaza where a farmer’s market was being disassembled. They stuffed themselves with carrot tops and brown lettuce until they were full, and when it began to rain they walked down to a wide green river and took shelter under an enormous stone bridge.
Moving with an agility uncommon to any creature who had just consumed a dozen pumpkin pies, Blurtseau leapt from a shrubbery, scaled the rear of the coach, and locked onto the luggage rack as the carriage sped off to Paris. “Blurtsoiselle,” he thought, “my heart has wings, and I am as light as a feather!”
Blurtseau’s heart was as light as a feather, but his stomach was as heavy as a stone, and he soon fell asleep atop the coach. Then, moments before reaching the cousin’s logement, he was thrown from the carriage.
When he awoke, he continued on hoof into the city… then he saw her.
The purest of pure, the sweetest of sweet, the tender and ravishing Blurtsoiselle! For a moment their eyes met… it was the moment he had dreamed of, the light that had sustained him, the breath that had filled his hours of exile, travel, and torment, it was… too much for his heart to bear, and he fell down hooves up and senseless in the gutter. Had he not been paralyzed and unconscious, he might have mistaken her glance for the most tender gaze that ever donkey gazed in the history of donkeys, as Blurtsoiselle looked down on our fallen hero whose mouth was slowly filling with the water that ran in the street. But the fearless corsaire saw not this gaze, nor did he see Blurtsoiselle fourteen hours later when he awoke, half-drowned and still shivering, in the Boulangerie of his faithful first mate, Pableau la Chanson.
I suppose I should do or say something. A lot of people have subscribed to my blog. I don’t want to let them down. But what should I do or say? Maybe I should do something that requires coordination and strength. Like a triple back-flip. That would be impressive! Too bad I don’t have coordination and strength. Maybe I should do something funny. Like attempt a triple back-flip without coordination and strength. That might be funny. But it might hurt. I don’t like things that hurt. I never have. Before I do anything I ask, “Will this hurt?” It’s a good question. Another good question is, “Where’s the food?” That may be the best question, because it usually leads to pleasure, unless there isn’t any food. Then it’s a sad question, perhaps the saddest question of all. Hmmm… I guess I should do or say something. I don’t want to let people down.
Wow! thought Blurtso, this wine is good! And so refreshing! When I touch the glass, the warmth of my hoof makes the condensation run down the stem. And the base leaves circles on the table. I wonder if I should drink the entire carafe? It sure is good. And very refreshing. It may be the most refreshing wine I’ve tasted. It was sure hot at the Tower. I didn’t think I’d ever get to the top. And all those people, they weren’t even sweating! I think they should install an elevator. Or serve wine. A glass of wine would have really hit the spot. I wonder if Picasso drank wine? I wonder if he sat in his museum with his paintings and drank wine. I wonder if he took his easel and his wine to the top of the Tower to paint the view… the view is nice from here. The street is quiet and the café is well-lit and clean. Hmmm, the condensation has formed a puddle around the carafe. I’d better pour another glass. I don’t want to offend the owner. I wonder if he drinks this at home? He said it was house wine, so he must drink it at home. I wonder how he makes it? I wonder if it’s hard to make something so good. Or easy. It’s certainly easy to drink. Wow! This second glass is better than the first! That’s amazing. I wonder if the second glass seems better because that’s what I’m drinking now? It’s nice when the second is as good as the first, and vice versa. There’s certainly a lot of pleasure in the liquid in that carafe. What an interesting word, carafe. I wonder where it comes from? Probably Africa. It has a long neck, and is good when it’s hot, and sounds like giraffe, so it must come from Africa. I think I’ll pour another glass. There’s only one left, and I would hate to offend the owner. What a great café. The Tower was nice, but this is a really great café.