The Ration Ticket

Excerpt from the diary of Jules Flegmon.

16 May . -- Dined yesterday at Baroness Klim's. Among the guests, Monsignor Delabonne was the only full time liver. When someone brought up the black market in life ration tickets, I spoke up against a practice I regarded as shameful. I couldn't have been more sincere. Perhaps I also wanted to make a good impression on the bishop, who has a number of votes at the Académie. I immediately felt a chill among the assembled guests. Monsignor smiled at me kindly as he might have done at the confessions of a young priest consumed with apostolic ardor. We changed the topic.

After dinner, in the living room, the baroness engaged me in conversation, in a low voice at first, about the black market in life ration tickets. She pointed out to me that my immense and undisputed writing talent, the depth of my views, and the great role that I was called to play all made it my duty, my moral obligation to make some extensions to an existence devoted to enrichment of thought and the greatness of the nation. Seeing that I was weakening, she brought the debate before her guests. They were pretty much unanimous in blaming my scruples for stealing the true paths of justice from me behind a fog of false sentimentality. Monsignor, when asked for his opinion, refused to decide the case, but expressed himself in a very meaningful parable:

An industrious farmer does not have enough land, while his neighbors leave theirs lying fallow. From these negligent neighbors, he buys a portion of their fields, plows them, sows them, and reaps rich harvests which benefit everyone.
I allowed myself to be persuaded by this brilliant assembly and this morning I still had enough conviction to purchase five life ration tickets. In order to merit this existence supplement, I shall retreat to the country where I will work away furiously on my book.
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Copyright 1997 Karen Reshkin
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