AND THEN I WAS in France. That same month of June, as I drove through the orchards of Normandy, within view of Mont-SaintMichel, a turn of the road brought me suddenly to an old French château. The sight of this stately dwelling, set in a verdant park behind an avenue of lime trees, caused me to draw up. And as an old countryman was passing, I inquired:
"Who lives there?"
He stopped and smiled -- a spontaneous smile which lit up his weathered face, wrinkled and ruddy as a ripe cider apple.
"Why, none other than Monsieur le Maire."
Surprised by this answer, I exclaimed:
"But surely. . . that must be the home of an important person . . . some nobleman. . . ."
The old man nodded his head in amiable indulgence.
"Oh, yes. Monsieur le Maire is certainly a marquis. . . . He has one of the best names in France. But he is also mayor of our village. And that, monsieur. . . , that is how we know him."
Something in the peasant's tone and manner -- he would not be drawn further, but ambled off along the dusty lane -- whetted my curiosity, gave me the feeling that I had stumbled on a story. And as I had time on my hands, instead of pushing on toward SaintMalo as I had intended, I turned off at the adjoining village and put up at the tavern there -- the Pomme d'Or. I felt a strong desire to meet Monsieur le Maire.
This, the landlord of the inn assured me, would not be difficult --