The Avion My Uncle Flew

The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher

Book: The Avion My Uncle Flew by Cyrus Fisher Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cyrus Fisher
“aussi” was “also.” And I supposed “y” must mean “there.” So I said, “Oui, Philippe y va aussi.”
    Out we went, into the deserted street, Philippe leading me toward the blacksmith shop. As we walked, I pointed down to the street and asked, “Qu’est-ce que c’est que——?”
    â€œÃ‡a?” said Philippe.
    That stumped me for a minute. I knew “ça” wasn’t the French for “street” because of the way he put a question after it.
    I pointed again at the street.
    He understood. “Ah,” said Philippe, mighty pleased. “ Ça? C’est la rue .”
    â€œLa rue ?” I asked. That was what a street was called in France.
    â€œOui,” said he. “C’est la rue.”
    We walked along la rue until we reached le forgeron’s. There was mon oncle talking to Monsieur Niort. “Bon jour, bon jour!” cried mon oncle. He saw Philippe and clapped him on the shoulders. He said something to him in French. Philippe laughed. He pointed to me and explained. Both mon oncle and le forgeron laughed.
    Mon oncle said, “Now Philippe teaches you French, aussi?”
    I said he’d told me “la rue” was a street but I didn’t understand exactly. Was “street” two words in French, both “la” and “rue”? Well, mon oncle explained that easily. “La” was another word for “the.” That puzzled me. I never knew a language to spell “the” two ways. It meant that in French both “le” and “la” were the same thing? He nodded. “Oui, c’est ça.”
    I asked, “What is ‘ça’?”
    â€œâ€˜Ã‡a’?” said mon oncle. “‘Ça’ is ‘that,’ for pointing out something. For example—” He pointed to the street. “Ça est la rue.”
    I got it. I said, “Oui, ça est la rue.”
    He pointed to a house across la rue. “Ça est la maison.”
    I said, “Où est my maison?”
    He waggled his long nose. He stepped outside and pointed up la rue toward our little hotel. “Là—there. Là est ta maison. You understand?”
    That ended French leçons for this jour. Mon oncle asked how I’d slept last night. I said, “Fine,” not wanting to admit I’d been briefly scared early this morning, thinking I’d heard Albert pass below my window, humming. I inquired if he’d received a letter from the Paris police yet and he said it was too soon, but he expected it before the end of this week. Next, I worked around to asking if he’d written my mother how I’d acted the night before.…
    He laughed. “It was such a little thing, already have I forgotten it. I do not think ta mère—your mother—would be interested. We both forget, n’est-ce pas?”
    That cheered me a lot. I knew he was on my side. At the far end of the next building a couple of workmen were laying pieces of wood on a table, joining them. Mon oncle explained this was to be one of the wings. Over to one side he showed me a huge brass pan, big around as a cart wheel, filled with hot water. In here he was steaming other sections of wood in order, tomorrow, to clamp them in forms which bent them into the shape of ribs.
    All this time he had been regarding me with a peculiar expression on his face. Suddenly he asked, “Where are your crutches?”
    Until that moment, I’d forgotten all about them. I’d walked the twenty or so yards from the hotel to the workshop on my own power, being so interested in learning the French words for street and house. A funny thing happened: the minute mon oncle reminded me of my crutches my leg felt weak, and began hurting. The pain got bigger. Probably I had strained it a little. I was scared.
    Mon oncle sent Philippe back for the crutches and the rest of the jour I stuck to

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