Misery Will Never End

He was buried in January, in an icy fog, at eight in the morning—about the time when they shoot those condemned to death.

There were quite a few people there—from society, from his former world—who followed the hearse while talking of business. The hearse of a poor man, badly chipped, rattled over the gleaming cobblestones.

Imagine that long journey to the cemetery at eight o’clock, in the fog. Just behind the society people followed a group in rags, beggars, people out of work, like the condemned shown in old pictures. Satchels on their shoulders, bundles badly tied up in greasy paper under their arms. People who pick up the garbage. There was a muscular man with a beard, a sack full of holes on his shoulder. Out of the holes fell some dirty rags and the lid of an old enamel coffee pot.

The society folk, vaguely upset, even slightly scandalized, would turn around from time to time to see if the others were still following. Hardly an ordinary burial.

He had been a magistrate his whole life. A judge from top to bottom—a man completely identified with his function. A dignified attitude at every moment, silent and austere, with a hatchet face, a pointed gray goatee, and gray hair cut short. Rigid, a straightforward glance, slightly halting gestures.


To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

Jean Sulivan was the pen name of Joseph Lemarchand, who was a priest, teacher, and journalist, as well as the author of thirty books, including the collection Bonheur des rebelles (Gallimard, 1968), which includes the story “La misère ne finira jamais” (“Misery will never end”).