Characterisation, especially by Letters 459 The Chateau in the Heart of the Ardennes.
Poem found among Galton's papers. I do not know when the visit to the Chateau in the heart of the Ardennes came off, or who wrote the skit; if it was Galton, it was at his own expense. The visit may have been as late as 1879 or 1880, but probably much earlier.
They told me of a chateau in the heart of the Ardennes,
A pension kept charmingly by two young chatelaines;
They told me of some English people who had summered there, On next to nothing for the best and most abundant fare; They could not tell me where it was, or who the chatelaines, But they knew it was a chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.
The heart of the Ardennes is large, if it be somewhat cold, And chateaux are in plenty there, the homes of barons bold ; The ruins that were homes in ages past, that is to say, And not at all like pensions where English people stay; But all the information that they really could obtain Was this,-it was a chateau, in the heart of the Ardennes.
They both were very anxious to be able to make out
The way to reach the chateau they had heard so much about; 'Twould be so charming, after all the towns where they had been And after all the gay and noisy places they had seen, To go and live for nothing, far from all the haunts of men, At a veritable chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.
They left. No more they dejeuner'd at healthy Souveniere,
No more they meant to dejeuner at distant Geronstere;
No more abused the Ninth for all the tuneless things they played, No more encored "La ronde qui passe" in Leopold's arcade. They left; and I was lonely for a day or two, and then I went to find the chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.
There met me, on the way to join the luggage at the Bare, About the most experienced of travellers that are,
The Art himself of Travel; and, though not born yesterday, I listened to the guileful tale he told me by the way; For he told me with descriptive tongue, as clever as his pen,
Of what sounded like the chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.
He told me of the demoiselles who kept a charming place;
Of English people, how they praised its cleanliness and space; He told me of a brother, too, who helped his sisters dear, And how for almost nothing they gave most delightful cheer. It was not called a chateau by his friend, he said, but then It really was a pension in the heart of the Ardennes.
A Belgian lady staying in the Britannique hotel
Had told him. That was where and how my ladies learned as well. It clearly was the very place. I took the train at one; Then drove across the bitter moors, and when the day was done We pulled up in a dirty town amid the drenching rain, And o'er the door was painted H.-not chateau-des Ardennes.
A hugger-mugger maid appears, with pail and brush in hand, And makes a sound or two which she perhaps may understand; And then there comes another, with a wart upon her nose, And she must be, as I at length unwillingly suppose, At least the mother of the pair of blooming chatelaines Who kept the charming chateau in the heart of the Ardennes.