The home letters were being distributed on board the Circe, at anchor at Ha-Long, over on the other side of the earth. In the midst of a group of sailors, the purser called out, in a loud voice, the names of the fortunate men who had letters to receive. This went on at evening, on the ship’s side, all crushing round a funnel.
“Moan, Sylvestre!” There was one for him, postmarked “Paimpol,” but it was not Gaud’s writing. What did that mean? from whom did it come else?
After having turned and flourished it about, he opened it fearingly, and read:
“PLOUBAZLANEC, March 5th, 1884.
“MY DEAR GRANDSON:”
So, it was from his dear old granny. He breathed free again. At the bottom of the letter she even had placed her signature, learned by heart, but trembling like a school-girl’s scribble: “Widow Moan.”
“Widow Moan!” With a quick spontaneous movement he carried the paper to his lips and kissed the poor name, as a sacred relic. For this letter arrived at a critical moment of his life; to-morrow at dawn, he was to set out for the battlefield.