June 7, 2012
“She’s just like me,” Bûchette said to herself. “But she sure is an odd color.”
The green, weeping creature was half-dressed in a sort of tunic, woven with leaves. It truly was a young girl, the color of a wild plant. Bûchette imagined that her feet were rooted in the ground. But she moved them quite nimbly.
Bûchette gently stroked her hair and took her by the hand. She let herself be taken along, crying all the while. She seemed not to know how to speak.
“Dear God! A green she-devil,” cried Bûchette’s father when he saw her coming.
“Now, where do you come from, little girl? And why are you green? Don’t you know how to talk?”
It was impossible to tell whether or not the little green girl had heard.
By means of imitation she was soon able to carry wood and water, sweep, dry, and even sew, although she handled fabric with a certain repulsion. But she never resigned herself to building fires, or even approaching the fireplace.
However, Bûchette was growing up, and her parents wanted to put her to work. She was saddened by this prospect, and in the evening, under her covers, she would quietly weep. The green girl would watch her young friend with great sympathy. She studied Bûchette’s pupils every morning, and her own eyes would fill with tears. Then at night, when Bûchette cried, she would feel a soft hand running through her hair and a cool kiss on her cheek.
When the time came for Bûchette to enter her term of servitude, she cried almost as lamentably as the green creature had on the day she was found abandoned in front of the Snapdragon.
And on the last evening, after Bûchette’s mother and father had fallen asleep, the green girl ran her hands through the crying girl’s hair and took her by the hand. She opened the door and held her arm out into the night. Just as Bûchette had once led her to the homes of man, the green girl led her by the hand to an unknown liberty.
Excerpt from The Book of Monelle, by Marcel Schwob.