In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

OF THESE STONES/Susan Vreeland Aix-en-Provence, March 1898 Four small boys lay in wait for the white-haired man to pass on chemin des Lauves, the road out of Aix to the hillside from which one could see across the valley to Mont Sainte-Victoire. When the man passed whom they had heard their parents revile—"a fool who paints the same mountain every day because he cannot get it right, painting it the very hour they laid his poor mother m the grave, a disgrace to his father the banker, a son who dresses Ui rags when he doesn't have to, seventeen years with that Hortense woman before he married her"— they shouted after him. "Imbécile." "Bête." "Sauvage." The man turned to look over the folded easel strapped to his shoulder , stumbled and then lunged onward, nearly dropping his large wooden box. The smallest boy, Anatole, couldn't remember the man's name, but he could not forget the fierceness with which his mother had said, "not even the decency to see his mother's bones laid to rest." The boys followed at a distance, challenging each other with what they would shout at him next, until they came to the quarry. The tallest one picked up a handful of yellowish stones; he threw one at a défense d'entrer sign, and it clattered to the ground. "That should have been the old man's picture," the tallest boy said. At once they all knew what they must do. Pockets bulging, they crept onward among the fig and almond trees edging the dirt road. Anatole hung back, wishing he had not come, and, seizing on an idea, emptied his pockets of stones and filled them with unripe figs. They waited for the man to set up his easel and get weU along on a painting, long enough for him to forget them. Then from behind bushes, they pelted him with stones. The canvas toppled. Stones rained on the old man's back, and a fig hit behind his knees with a thunk. He buckled and fell. Anatole went cold, and at almost the same moment he felt a rock strike his thigh. He whirled around, surprised to see his older brother. The Missouri Review · 59 "See what it feels Uke?" Marc shouted. "Go to my chapel unless you want Mother to hear of this!" The man limped toward them, shouting, and the boys scattered. Anatole ran into the woods by himself, glad to be rid of his friends. Listening for human sounds, he smelled the after-winter rot of leaves. He lingered by a dark pool and hurled the remaining figs Ulto it. Their puny splashes were disappointing. His brother was a monster. Marc didn't care what happened to the old man; he just saw another chance to pick on Anatole. Circling closer and closer to the looming Chateau Noir, heavy with guUt, knowing what awaited him at his brother's hands, afraid to imagine what worse thing might await him if he faUed to appear, Anatole parted the pines and entered the gloomy clearing that his brother, Marc, called his chapel. In an instant, Marc swung down upon him from a branch, his boots thumping against Anatole's back and sending him sprawling. Both boys' arms swung wildly. Marc pummeled him, aiming right where he knew the bruises were that hadn't healed yet from the last tune. "Confess. Say it. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Say it." Marc twisted Anatole's arm behind his back. "Say it!" "Forgive me." "Father. Say it all." Marc shoved Anatole's face into the dirt. "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," Anatole whispered, dirt scraping against his lips, entering his mouth. "Again. I didn't hear you." Marc yanked his arm tighter. "Speak up to your priest." Senseless with rage, Anatole did the unthinkable, inflicted the one injury tacitly off limits. He twisted free, kicked Marc as hard as he could in the crotch and bolted. Even though Anatole had confessed, Marc still told their mother. Because Marc was favored Ui the family for his simpering, fawning way and for kissing...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 59-64
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.