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Bill Bucko


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Note: this essay appears too long to fit in a single post.

This is a slightly abridged version of the essay I prepared for the Ayn Rand Archives. The Appendices have been omitted, along with a little information not of general interest.

Ayn Rand’s first French children’s magazine



Acknowledgments: My thanks to Shoshana Milgram for sharing Ayn Rand’s comments on the three stories; and to the guys at BDFI, especially Dave O’Brien, vrai savant, and Totofouinard, ami de tous bêtes “gros et tentaculaire”!




1 – Identifying the Stories

2 – The Orphan Story

3 – The Detective Story

4 – The Submarine Story

5 – Other Serials


A – French Children’s Magazines

B – Bookseller Listings of Mon Journal

C – B.A. Jeanroy

D – Raphaël Lightone

E -- Toudouze and Ys


This essay is based on personal examination of the following items in my collection:

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1897 – Sept. 1898

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1906 – Sept. 1907

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1908 – Sept. 1909

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1909 – Sept. 1910

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1911 – Sept. 1912

Mon Journal
– two bound volumes, for Jan. – Dec. 1911

Mon Journal
– two bound volumes, for Jan. – Dec. 1912

Mon Journal
– two bound volumes, for Jan. – Dec. 1913

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Oct. 1912 – Sept. 1913 (2 copies)

Mon Journal
– bound volume for Mar. – Sept. 1913

Mon Journal
– 13 individual numbers from Jan. – Aug. 1913

Mon Journal
– 47 individual numbers from Oct. 1913 – Sept.1914

La Marraine de Carlino
– first book edition, 1914

Herbelin contre Plock
– first book edition, 1914

Le Petit Roi d’Ys
– abridged and simplified text for American children, 1934

Le Petit Roi d’Ys
– 1951 edition.


The first French children’s magazine Ayn Rand read in 1913 was Mon Journal, Recueil hebdomadaire illustré pour les Enfants (“My Journal, weekly illustrated anthology for children”), a colorful 16-page magazine published by Hachette. The three stories she mentioned in her biographical interviews have been positively identified as:

the orphan story:

La Marraine de Carlino
(“Carlino’s Godmother”), by B.-A. Jeanroy,

appearing in 16 installments from October 5, 1912 – January 18, 1913,

illustrated by Georges-Pierre Dutriac;

the submarine story:

Le Petit Roi d’Ys
(“The Little King of Ys”), by Georges Gustave-Toudouze,

appearing in 24 installments from January 25 – July 5, 1913,

illustrated by Henri Morin; and

the detective story:

Herbelin contre Plock
(“Herbelin versus Plock”), by Raphaël Lightone,

appearing in 20 installments from April 26 – September 6, 1913,

illustrated by R. de la Nézière.


Those interested in Ayn Rand’s early years know that in her recorded biographical interviews from 1960-61, she referred to the first French children’s magazine her mother subscribed her to, when she was 8 years old (i.e. 1913). Without naming the magazine, she mentioned two serials, one about a poor orphan boy (a story that thoroughly bored her), and one about a detective pursuing a jewel thief. The detective serial was a revelation to her, showing how fiction could create a world more exciting than the one around her; and in response to it, she started writing her own stories.

Finding those two unidentified serials was a formidable task, since at least 37 different French children’s magazines were published in 1913 (see Appendix A). Probably a number of stories about orphans or detectives appeared in that year. I made some progress in narrowing down the possibilities, but was starting to think that, barring a lucky accident, someone would have to travel to Paris and spend a few days searching the shelves of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

Fortunately, Miss Rand mentioned a third story in the biographical tapes, one she liked very much (though not as much as The Mysterious Valley). That story was the key to identifying the magazine, and the remaining stories.

After I told Jeff Britting and Shoshana Milgram about the magazine La vallée mystérieuse appeared in, Shoshana Milgram asked if I had come across a third story mentioned by Miss Rand: a serial about two adolescents, a boy and girl of about 14, members of a submarine expedition to discover an underwater city (not Atlantis). The young Ayn Rand found the story exciting, and was so pleased with the girl—who insisted on participating on an equal footing with the adults—that she described her as what Dagny Taggart would be like, as a child.

Shoshana Milgram also called my attention to an internet site, , for fans of French genre literature:

Ce site est consacré aux parutions et traductions francophones de l’imaginaire (science-fiction, fantastique, horreur, fantasy). La zone
(Base de Données Francophone de l’Imaginaire) présente les nouveautés, les bibliographies de 6000 auteurs du genre, les cycles, et les principaux prix français et étrangers.

(“This site is dedicated to publications and French translations of imaginative literature (science fiction, fantasy, horror). The site
(Database of French Imaginative Literature) presents news, bibliographies of 6000 genre authors, series, and the principal French and foreign prizes.”)

In June 2006, I described the submarine story on the site’s forum, , and asked if anyone could identify it. “Dave O’Brien,” who had already proved himself sufficiently knowledgeable to name the magazine in which La vallée mystérieuse first appeared, along with the exact dates (just a few weeks after I had independently discovered that same information), replied:

Je parierais presque à coup sûr sur "Le Petit roi d'Ys" de Georges-Gustave Toudouze, dont voici les deux premières éditions:

Le Petit Roi d'Ys

- in «Mon Journal» du 25 janvier au 5 juillet 1913, Hachette, ill. H. Morin

- - Hachette, «Bibliothèque des Ecoles et des familles», gd in-8° cart. ou broché, ill. H. Morin, 1914

(“I’d bet almost certainly on “
Le Petit roi d’Ys
” by Georges-Gustave Toudouze, the first two editions of which were:

Le Petit roi d’Ys

- in «
Mon Journal
» January 25 - July 5, 1913, Hachette, ill. H. Morin

- Hachette, «
Bibliothèque des Ecoles et des familles
», large octavo in hardcover or stitched, ill. H. Morin, 1914”)

And the title page he posted, with its picture of the two children, made such a strong impression on me (with the proud, assertive stance of the girl) that I hurriedly ordered a copy of Toudouze’s novel, as well as two individual numbers of Mon Journal that were available from rare book dealers. When they arrived, I tore open the packages and studied them. What I saw galvanized me. I rushed to my computer, to order all of Mon Journal that was available for that year—several hundred dollars’ worth.

What I saw was a story that fit Ayn Rand’s description perfectly. Every detail was there:

• the submarine searching for an underwater city;

• the city was not Atlantis;

• two (and only two) adolescents, both about 14;

• the girl’s bold insistence on taking part in the exploration as an equal of the adults.

And the magazine was just as Ayn Rand described it:

• it featured both short stories and serials;

• every issue had a color picture on the back, illustrating the serial.

More than that: after a few minutes I noticed that the same magazine also carried a serial called Herbelin contre Plock, by Raphaël Lightone. Herbelin is a detective, locked in an ongoing battle of wits with Plock, a master criminal, leader of a band of jewel thieves.

As more issues and bound volumes of Mon Journal arrived, one by one I found almost EVERY detail noted by Ayn Rand:

• the detective story began around the middle of the year (April 26, 1913);

• there was an illustration of the detective almost falling off a roof (page 573);

• Miss Rand said she barely remembered the detective and thief’s names ... (why would she remember them at all, unless they were in the title? According to her interview in the May 1962 issue of Mademoiselle, she did forget Maurice Champagne’s name, which appeared only once, on the first page of La Vallée Mystérieuse.)

• the thief's actions are mysterious (he used a look-alike, so it seemed he was in two places at once);

• the story about the poor orphan came earlier (Oct. 5, 1912 – Jan. 18, 1913);

• the orphan was searching for his godmother;

• the boy was Italian;

• the godmother turns out to be rich; and

• near the end, there’s a color picture on the back, of the gray-haired godmother welcoming the boy (page 224).

Are there any contrary indications? Just one: according to Miss Rand’s recollection, the orphan didn’t know that his godmother was rich. In the actual story, he believes she’s rich from the beginning (without really knowing anything about her); but it’s not important to him. However, in the final chapters (which may be all the young Ayn Rand saw) he doesn’t mention it and doesn’t even think of her being rich until she tells him.

Weighing that single point from Miss Rand’s recollections against all the evidence in favor of Mon Journal, doesn’t create a reasonable doubt in my mind. The chance that 3 other stories in some other magazine, that year, would by coincidence have all those same features, is vanishingly small.

Exactly when did Ayn Rand begin reading the magazine? She says only that it was when she was 8. She turned 8 on January 20, 1913 (going by the Julian calendar, still used in Russia till later in the decade). The earliest issue of Mon Journal that I can conclusively identify as seen by her, is the one with the illustration of the godmother and orphan (Jan. 4, 1913, page 224). What about earlier chapters of the story? We don’t know. Perhaps when Miss Rand said she was 8, she was speaking approximately; certainly the two stories that made the biggest impression on her came when she was 8. It’s also conceivable that her subscription started with issue 1 for Hachette’s publishing year (October through September), the issue in which the orphan story began (Oct. 5, 1912); or perhaps the young Ayn Rand formed her opinion of the whole from only the last three of the sixteen installments: Jan. 4, 11 and 18, 1913. Those installments by themselves are certainly enough to create a jaundiced impression in anyone who doesn’t value sentimentality.

Miss Rand did say, in her recollections, that she later went back and read the orphan story again (which is most naturally taken to mean, read the entire story, not just the last chapters).

The serials were written on a nearly adult level, with a huge vocabulary (as was La Vallée Mystérieuse). Miss Rand said she could already read French, at the time her mother subscribed to the magazine. And she probably heard it spoken in her family on a daily basis, long before 1913. That’s certainly in accord with what we know of Madame Rosenbaum’s wish to have her daughters fluent in French, and the widespread use of French by Russian intellectuals.

Mon Journal

The magazine’s publisher, Librairie Hachette, was founded in 1826 by Louis Hachette, and is still in existence as a multinational conglomerate (see ). One interesting sidelight: in 1914 it took over the firm of Hetzel (Jules Verne’s publisher).

According to bookseller listings (see Appendix A) Mon Journal began in 1881 as a monthly (“mensuel”), for childen aged 5-10. By 1892-93 it had become a weekly (“hebdomadaire”), for children aged 8-12. The magazine continued publishing through 1926.

That information is confirmed by the online catalog of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF),, which also details several changes in subtitle, and its merger with another children’s magazine in 1924.

Of the several catalogs on the BNF’s website, the ones to search are:

Catalogue Bn-Opale Plus at

or, alternatively:

Catalogue collectif de France/CCFr) (Union Catalog of France)


which includes BN-Opale Plus,

municipal libraries, and

university libraries.

Here is the BNF’s listing:

Type : texte imprimé, périodique

Titre(s) : Mon journal. Recueil mensuel pour les enfants de cinq à dix ans [″puis″ Recueil hebdomadaire illustré pour les enfants ; Illustré pour les enfants] [Texte imprimé]15 oct. 1881-15 sept. 1892 [i, n̊ 1-XI, n̊ 12]. 8 oct. 1892 (n̊ 1)-19 déc. 1925 (n̊ 12) [?]

Publication : Paris : [s.n.?]

Description matérielle : in-8

Note(s) : Le sous-titre disparaît. - Jusqu'en sept. 1885 porte en tête : ″Ami (L') de l'enfance. Partie des enfants et constitue une partie de : ″Ami (L') de l'enfance. Journal des salles d'asile...″ dont il devient suppl. d'oct. 1885 à sept. 1892. - En oct. 1924 absorbe : ″Poupée (La) modèle″ ; paraît alors sous le titre de : ″Mon journal et Poupée modèle réunis″

Notice n° : FRBNF32817940

The Library of Congress,, has a listing for Mon Journal:

Mon journal; recueil mensuel pour les enfants de cinq à dix ans.

LC Control No.: ca 11000503

Type of Material: Serial (Periodical, Newspaper, etc.)

Main Title: Mon journal; recueil mensuel pour les enfants de cinq à dix ans.

Published/Created: Paris, Hachette et cie, [18 ]

Description: v. illus. 26 cm.

Current Frequency: Unknown

Notes: PREMARC/SERLOC merged record

LC Classification: LB1501 .A5

but in response to my inquiry, they told me they believe the listing is in error; they can find no copies on their shelves.

The magazine sold for 15 centimes per issue or 8 francs per year, at least from 1897 through 1914. (For comparison, many hardcover books sold for 3 to 5 francs each.) It was printed on smooth, good-quality paper measuring about 6¼ x 9½ inches. The first and last pages are always in color; inside, there are several black and white illustrations and often one more picture in color. The color illustrations, which feel waxy to the touch and are probably lithographs, appear quite vivid and unfaded.

In addition to fairy tales, historical fiction and mythology, many issues carry brief news items under the heading "Echos et Variétés". There are sometimes photo features, with animals and royalty being the most common subjects. Occasional arts and crafts projects include colorful cutouts (“Mon Découpages”), animal stand-ups (“Notre Jardin Zoologique”), instructions for making toys (“Comment On Fait Soi-Même Ses Jouets”), and clothing patterns for dolls. Sometimes there are board games and songs, notated for piano and voice. For further details see my scans, and the index at the end of each volume.

Usually once a month, the magazine included a 4 page insert (numbered i, ii, iii and iv) promoting L’Oeuvre du Sou de “Mon Journal,” a charitable project to provide seaside vacations for poor or sick Parisian children (subscribers were invited to donate 1 sou per month). The inserts also announce contests, coming attractions, and sometimes have a few ads or subscriber notices seeking penpals or offering to swap postage stamps. Some bound volumes include these inserts, while others do not.


The young Ayn Rand disliked the first serial she read, for its sentimentality. For a while she defied her mother and refused to look at anything else in the magazine, which began to pile up, unread. (Fortunately, she discovered the detective and submarine stories several months later.)

At least, the orphan story was well illustrated! Aided by a list of French children’s illustrators at , I deciphered the artist’s signature as G. (for Georges-Pierre) Dutriac. (He also illustrated the previous serial, Les Petits Naufragés du Titanic, and in some of its pictures his name is easier to read.)



by Madame B.A. Jeanroy

Chapter 1 – The Wagon

The beautiful Tuscan countryside, along the road that climbs from Pontassieve to the summits of the Apennines, looks dismal this cold rainy night, as a gypsy leads his decrepit horse-drawn wagon up to the door of a mansion. He knocks, begging food and shelter for his sick wife and hungry children. Wealthy land-owner Marc-Antonio, a sullen, bitter man, refuses crossly. The gypsy continues on, muttering curses, to the door of a small cottage. There 14 year old Carlino and his widowed mother welcome them: “It will never be said that a poor unfortunate died of cold in front of Giovanna Baldi’s door.” The gypsy’s children, Pietro, Paolo, and Stella, warm themselves before the fire, while his monkey and dancing bear are housed in the shed. Pietro and Paolo grab food away from Stella, and call her names. They have not been well raised, thinks Carlino. He feels sorry for the girl, and befriends her. She looks quite different from the rest of the family, and her manners are gentle instead of rough. He tells her how his father caught a fever and died, two years ago.

In a corner by the fire sits Carlino’s superstitious grandmother, nearly 80 years old, muttering. Carlino explains to Stella what she’s saying: that he will never be happy until he finds his godmother.

The gypsy, Pochepercée (“Hole in Pocket”), says he forgets nothing, neither the good nor the ill that is done him. Someday, he promises, the mean-spirited land-owner will hear from him again; and so will Carlino.

Chapter 2 – The Haystack on Fire!

Six months later, Carlino is carrying a sack of pine cones he gathered in Marc-Antonio’s grove. People say in whispers that a great misfortune in the past affected Marc-Antonio’s mind; he never laughs. Yet sometimes the sight of a small child moves him to tears. Usually, though, he is hard and pitiless. Just this morning he threatened to evict Carlino’s mother, who is behind with her rent.

A man approaches Carlino. “Do you remember me?” It is Pochepercée. The gypsy says his fortunes have changed for the better, he’s been hired by a great circus. He takes out a gold piece and offers it to Carlino ... if he will just do him a service. He whispers that he wants the boy to set fire to Marc-Antonio’s haystack. The honest boy recoils at the thought. “Fool!” cries Pochepercée, “you misunderstood! I was only joking.” He grabs the boy’s hands. “Swear that you won’t tell anyone what I said,” he demands. He refuses to let go until Carlino swears.

The boy goes home, thinking it was stupid of him to swear that. Troubled and unable to sleep, he fears that the gypsy might set the fire himself. He gets out of bed and goes to Casaccia, Marc-Antonio’s estate. All appears peaceful: the mansion, the barn, two great haystacks. He decides to watch awhile; but falls asleep. He’s awakened by shouts, and the red glare of a haystack on fire. Marc-Antonio catches sight of the boy, and chases him away. To his wife Marc-Antonio says it must have been Carlino who started the fire.

Chapter 3 – Doors Close

In the morning, Carlino cheerfully goes looking for work. A well-to-do lady, Nilda, had been looking for a domestic; but when Carlino inquires, her maid says there’s no position available. The boy doesn’t know that Marc-Antonio has been there before him, accusing him of setting the fire. The same thing happens when Carlino goes to Pietro, the charcoal-burner. Though Pietro had told Carlino several times that he wanted him as a helper, today he repulses the boy rudely. The same thing happens throughout the day. There is no work for him, anywhere.

Chapter 4 – Marc-Antonio’s Calumnies

Dejectedly, Carlino is returning home when a cheerful voice greets him. It is 15 year old Enrichetta, daughter of the wealthy Florentine Signor Ubaldini, who is visiting Marc-Antonio. Enrichetta reveals what the landowner is saying about Carlino; but declares she will never believe it. The boy finally understands why everyone is rejecting him. Though he knows who did set the fire, he tells Enrichetta, he cannot reveal it, because he is bound by an oath.

Carlino reaches home just on time to hear Marc-Antonio angrily ordering his mother and grandmother to leave within a month. The boy goes to a neighbor, Père Severino, who offers to let them stay for free in an old unused cottage near the top of a mountain at Badiola, surrounded by ancient pines. Carlino hurries home to tell his mother and grandmother the good news.

Chapter 5 – The Mysterious Godmother

Carlino’s ancient grandmother is so wrinkled that she’s nicknamed La Tartaruga, “The Tortoise.” Superstitious residents of the area believe she’s a little bit of a sorciere, though a benevolent one. “Who was your godmother, child?” Once again she tells the story of his christening.

At that time Carlino’s father was a ferryman in Rome, and though the family was poor, the baptism was held in the richest church in the world, St. Peter’s. Another ferryman served as godfather, but he drowned two months later. Carlino’s grandmother was supposed to be the godmother. But she was delayed, preparing the baptismal dinner, and when she reached St. Peter’s she found they had gone ahead without her, because the priest was in a hurry. Then who served as godmother, she asked? A foreign lady, a visitor in Rome. Where was she now? Upset, the grandmother searched, but could not find her. The godmother’s name in the register was illegible; all that could be made out were her initials, A.P. She had left a gold coin as a present for the child, then vanished.

Then the family moved here, to the Apennines. But his father’s lungs were too weak to stand the frosty winters, and he died.

Carlino’s grandmother insists that to succeed or be happy in life, one must know either one’s godfather or godmother. The boy believes her.

Chapter 6 – Stella

As Carlino goes to the spring for water, he thinks about his grandmother’s words. Staying here, where no one will offer him work, is doing him no good. “Find your godmother,” says La Tartaruga, “and at the same time you’ll find good fortune.” In spite of his mother’s protests and tears, he decides to go out into the world, rather than be a burden on the family, just another mouth to feed.

At the spring he sees a small figure stretched out on the ground. “You! It’s you!” she cries, raising her head. He recognizes Stella. She’s bruised, from Pochepercée’s ill treatment. Tearfully she tells him she’s run away, hoping to find him and his family, the only ones who’ve ever shown her kindness. The dancing bear died, and Pochepercée had to leave the circus. Now, he’s teaching his children to pick pockets. Stella ran away, rather than become a thief. Carlino gives her a bit of bread. He hears goat bells nearby, and finds Marc-Antonio’s wife, Élise, tending the herd. Not sharing her husband’s ill-will, she gives the famished girl some milk.

Carlino asks Stella to stay with his mother and grandmother, love them and care for them, while he ventures out into the world.

Chapter 7 – Carlino’s Encounter

It’s October; the family has moved to the small hut on the mountain, overlooking the Casentino (valley of the upper Arno); and they’ve welcomed Stella as a daughter. Carlino sets out, on foot. He wonders how he can find his godmother, when he doesn’t even know her nationality. He hopes he’ll come across Pochepercée, and make him release him from the oath that was practically forced out of him ... He sees a coach pass by. He recognizes his friend Enrichetta on it, returning to Florence from her visit to Casaccia.

“A nice way to travel, isn’t it?” remarks someone. He turns and sees a young man carrying a valise. The young man nods, and walks on down the road. Carlino resumes his way, also. After a while he notices something small and beautiful, glistening on the path ... a sort of colored marble, that looks like a jeweled flower. Who could it belong to? He’s passed only a mule driver, a laborer ... then he remembers the young man with the valise. He picks up the sparkling object. Soon he finds another, in the dust of the road ... and another. Up ahead he sees the young man, resting under a tree.

“Friend,” says Carlino, “have you lost—” The young man leaps up gaily, seizes Carlino and lifts him into the air, laughing. “You’re just the one I’m looking for!” He explains that his father, a jeweler in the great city of Florence, sent him into the hills to find an apprentice mosaicist ... an honest boy, unspoiled and uncorrupted by the city. “Those gewgaws I dropped ... they may look pretty, but they’re of very little value. But now I know you’re honest! ... Would you like to become an apprentice? Come with me to the city!” Carlino’s eyes grow wide, as the young man tells him he too can make such beautiful objects.

Chapter 8 – Apprentice Mosaicist!

On the train from Pontassieve to Florence the young man, Mario Buonatesta, tells Carlino about his home in the great city. Carlino then tells him his own history. Mario asks about Stella: “Does she look like the two gypsy boys?” “Not at all,” Carlino explains; “she’s blond, but the boys’ hair is black as a raven’s wing.” “I don’t think she’s that villain Pochepercée’s child,” says Mario; “wolves don’t have lambs for daughters. The gypsy must have stolen her from her real parents.” Carlino is horrified. “You’ve done well in helping her,” Mario approves.

They arrive in Florence. Carlino marvels at the crowds, the noise, the tall tower of the Palazzo Signoria ... but above all at the beautiful statues in the city square, that leave him wondering whether this is paradise. Mario introduces him to his parents.

Chapter 9 – Carlino’s Encounter

Several months have passed since Carlino became an apprentice. It’s May, and throngs of tourists are visiting Italy. In the Roman forum a girl sits on a broken column, sketching. Next to her, an older woman is finishing a watercolor. “I’ll never be able to paint that well,” sighs the girl. “You will, with practice,” replies the woman ... “I love Italy; but at my age, one regrets never having married. Back in France, I have no one. Here in Italy, you could say I do have a relation—a spiritual one.

“One day,” she relates, “as I was studying Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s, a peasant woman with a babe in arms asked me to serve as godmother; and I was glad to do so. But how many times since have I regretted not staying in touch with them! The boy must be 14 now; I’d like to help him, perhaps even win a small place in his heart. I’ve searched the baptismal records, but can’t find the family; they must have moved away.”

Nearby, Carlino carries a tray of small mosaics, for sale to tourists. He recognizes Enrichetta, talking with an older woman ... a woman in a chestnut-colored dress and blue veil. He waits till they’re done talking and the older woman leaves, then goes to his friend. They talk happily, and he gives her a beautiful pin, the first he finished all by himself ... There’s a woman sewing, nearby. In a low voice Enrichetta tells him that’s Francesca, Marc-Antonio’s daughter.

He tells Enrichetta they’ve taken in Stella, as part of their family. And Père Severino has taught the girl how to read and write. Carlino shows Enrichetta a letter she’s written.

Chapter 10 – Stella’s Letter

Stella writes that she loves Carlino’s mother; and thinks of him every day. Thanks to Père Severino’s kindness, they never go hungry. And an unknown person has taken to leaving a bowl of food on their window sill several times a week, all winter long.

“Don’t you long to go back to your home in the mountains?” asks Enrichetta. “I have something to do here,” Carlino explains. He tells the story of his baptism, and how his grandmother sent him out into the world to search for his godmother ... “Your godmother?” cries Enrichetta. “I know her! That woman I was talking with!” “What’s her name? Where does she live?” “I don’t know! We met by chance ... I do remember she said she was taking the train to Tivoli, to sketch the temple of the Sibyl.” Carlino runs off as though mad, forgetting even to say goodbye, and leaving his tray of mosaics behind.

Chapter 11 – In Pursuit of the Godmother!

“Have you ever seen such a thing?” asks Enrichetta, turning to Francesca. Francesca, her maid, was not born to be a servant; she left Marc-Antonio’s home ten years ago to escape cruel memories of a catastrophe that destroyed her happiness.

Carlino runs down a street, upsetting a vegetable cart, jostling people, heedless of everything in his desperate haste to reach the train station before his godmother departs. He ignores the ticket-taker and runs out onto the platform, where an engine is puffing, ready to start. He looks in every compartment; but doesn’t see her. The ticket-taker catches him, and Carlino explains. “This train isn’t going to Tivoli, it’s going to Genoa,” the man says; “the train to Tivoli left ten minutes ago.” “Is Genoa near Tivoli?” the boy asks. “No,” laughs the ticket-taker. He sells Carlino a ticket, and directs him to the next train for Tivoli.

Once at his destination, the boy searches, but does not find the woman. He realizes she’s probably at a hotel at this hour, and goes to the first one he sees. A waiter tries to throw him out, but the owner listens to Carlino’s story and offers him a bowl of soup, and a place for the night. In the morning the boy runs out to resume his search. He remembers he needs to thank the kindly hotel owner, so he picks a bouquet of flowers and takes it to her. But he has no luck finding his godmother at the other hotels. Finally he cries out, “I’m a fool!” He goes to the temple of the Sibyl, which Enrichetta told him the lady wanted to sketch. It’s late by this time, and no one is about. He wonders who the sibyl is, to whom the temple was built. A saint, perhaps? He prays to her, lies down and tries to sleep, though it’s cold.

Once, in the early morning, he seems to hear a lady’s voice. Thinking it might be the sibyl, he keeps his eyes closed. An old woman is standing over him, a paint box under her arm. “Poor child!” she says, in a language that isn’t Italian. “His clothes are all damp; why is he sleeping out here? What could his mother be thinking?”

She sighs, then walks on, in her chestnut dress and blue veil.

Chapter 12 – Pochepercée Reappears

A week later, Carlino is talking with Mario on the Palatine Hill, back in Rome. “Cheer up,” his friend tells him; “you’ve lived 14 years without your godmother, surely you can manage!” “All hope has left me,” says Carlino sadly. “And I’m worried about my mother.” Stella has written that Père Severino has died; and his relatives will probably not let the family stay in the old hut any longer.

“Everything will arrange itself,” Mario says.

Suddenly there’s an outcry. “Stop, thief!” people shout. “Arrest him!”

Carlino joins in the chase. “It’s him ... Pochepercée!”

The other pursuers eventually fall behind, but Carlino and Mario chase the gypsy all the way to the Baths of Caracalla. Cornered in a hall of mosaics, the scoundrel sinks to the ground.

Chapter 13 – The Confession

With his knee on the exhausted thief’s chest, and seizing his throat, Carlino demands that Pochepercée release him from his oath. The gypsy agrees. “And hand over the purse you’ve stolen!” demands Mario, taking Carlino’s place. With a curse, Pochepercée hands it over. “And the girl—Stella!” demands Mario. “Admit that you’re not her father, that you stole her!” “I’m not her father,” the gypsy admits; “but I didn’t steal her—I found her! On the road from Poppi to Casaccia ... 10 years ago. There was an accident ... a carriage overturned ... the driver dead. The infant was lying in the grass. That’s all I know.” “Wretch!” cries Mario. “I did say we’d let him go,” says Carlino. Reluctantly, they let him get up. The thief dashes away—but not before throwing a rock, which hits Carlino in the forehead.

When Carlino regains consciousness, a medical student has bandaged his wound. The boy sees the purse they took from the bandit. “A.P.!” he cries. “It’s my godmother’s purse!” “Don’t excite yourself.” Mario promises to go find her. He takes the purse and sets off. There’s some commotion, and he sees the police have caught Pochepercée, who’s lying on the ground, bloodied and blaspheming.

Chapter 14 – Finally!

Mario retraces his steps to the Roman Forum. There he sees a fat policeman, boasting how he almost caught the fugitive. Mario tells him Pochepercée has been caught; and he wants to return the stolen purse. He recognizes Enrichetta in the crowd, by the pin she’s wearing, and tells her what’s become of her friend Carlino. Enrichetta recognizes the stolen purse, with the initials A.P., as belonging to the Frenchwoman who painted beside her. She describes the woman: tall, about 50, silver hair ... “With a chestnut dress and blue veil?” asks someone. “I just saw her by the fountain of Castor and Pollux.” He runs off, and returns with her in 5 minutes. Enrichetta tells her that the boy who recovered her purse is her long-lost godchild. Seeing Mario with her purse, she goes and kisses his cheek. “No, not me!” he smiles. “Then where is he?” Guided by Mario, Enrichetta takes her to the house Carlino’s been carried to. The boy’s face is as white as the curtains. He sees Mario, Enrichetta, then the old lady. “My godmother!” he cries, reaching out for her. Then he faints.

Chapter 15 – The Test

In her salon at the Hotel de la Minerva, Mlle. Anna Pérard paces back and forth, preoccupied. She goes to an adjoining room, and lifts a curtain, smiling. “Still asleep!” She goes back to her own room.

Yes, I’ll do it, when he wakes, she thinks. It’s the only way. I need to know whether he’s worthy. My old heart goes out to him, all too quickly; I’d better know right away. If he accepts, I’ll know he’s heartless. I’ll still help him; but I’ll love him no more!

She sighs.

Carlino wakes up. She goes to him, and takes his hand. “I’m all alone in the world,” she says. “You’re already my godchild; would you like to become my son? You could live with me, in my chateau in the Auvergne, and we’d spend the winters in Paris. You wouldn’t have to work, you’d lack for nothing.”

There are tears in Carlino’s eyes. “Would there be room for my mother in your chateau?”

“Certainly not,” she replies. “If you agree to be my son, you’ll have no other mother than me.”

“Don’t be cross with me,” Carlino pleads. “If you want to be my second mother, I’ll be the happiest boy in Italy. But my real mother ... the one who worked to feed me when I was little ... the one who loves me so! How could I abandon her?”

“I don’t ask that you forget her,” says the old woman. “You could write to her from time to time, even send her a piece of gold.”

“A piece of gold! You think a piece of gold would console her for no longer having a son?” he asks, indignantly.

“Think about it,” replies his godmother. “It’s very agreeable to be rich. You’d have your own horse, handsome clothes, and lots of spending money.”

“Don’t insist,” the boy says. “I am, and I remain, the son of my mother.”

Mlle. Pérard laughs and cries for joy. “You are ten times, a hundred times right, my dear child! ... As soon as your wound is healed, we’re traveling to your mountain. I’ll be glad to hear your mother’s cry of joy, when she sees you again.”

Carlino begins to understand. His godmother is pleased at his refusal; she was merely testing him! “But, my good godmother, how could you stay on our mountain—you, a fine lady, used to living in such luxury?”

“I’m a great traveler,” she laughs, “and I’ve stayed in shepherd huts in Switzerland, on occasion.”

Enrichetta and Mario come in. Mario is carrying Carlino’s tray of mosaics. “Though,” he says sadly, “I doubt whether a lord like you will care to work any more.”

Carlino laughs. “My godmother is caring for me, like a baby. But that’s just till I’m well again. Of course I’ll go back to work! She wouldn’t want me to be a parasite!”

Mlle. Anna Pérard examines Carlino’s mosaics, and tells Enrichetta in French: “This is the work of an apprentice; but you can see he has taste! With the right training, he could become a master. We’ll make an artist of him!”

Chapter 16 – Carlino’s Suspicions

Mario and Carlino are riding in a coach, thanks to Mlle. Pérard. Mario explains that Enrichetta’s father is a judge, so he’s been allowed to visit the jail. Mario asked Pochepercée why he named the infant he found Stella; Pochepercée replied that that was the name embroidered on the cloth she was wrapped in. The gypsy’s sons have been placed in an orphanage, so hopefully they’ll have some chance of a better life.

“Why are there tears in your eyes?” asks Mario. “I was just thinking how wonderful it would be if we could return Stella to her mother,” Carlino replies. “Remember how, when Enrichetta visits us, she brings with her that sad woman, her maid Francesca? ... I can’t help thinking that Francesca looks like my adopted sister, Stella!”

“What are you saying?” asks Mario.

“I asked Enrichetta about the sad thing that happened to Francesca, long ago. It was an accident ... her husband was pinned under the carriage; she ran to a nearby farmhouse for help; and when she came back ... the infant she had laid on the grass was gone! That must have been Stella! ... Only, Enrichetta doesn’t know the name of the child Francesca lost. She doesn’t even know if it was a boy or a girl. No one dares speak to hear about it.”

That evening, Carlino sits next to Francesca, begs her pardon, and assures her he has a serious reason for asking. “What was the name of the infant that was taken from you?”

Francesca turns very pale, trembling. “My poor little girl ... she was named Stella.”

Chapter 17 – Epilogue

They all travel to Pontassieve in a carriage. Carlino catches sight of Pietro the charcoal-burner. “Who set fire to Marc-Antonio’s haystack? It wasn’t me, it was Pochepercée, the gypsy!” he cries. “Tell everyone it wasn’t me!”

At Casaccia, Marc-Antonio and his wife Élise greet them. “I owe you reparation,” the farmer tells Carlino. They all climb the path to Badiola, on foot. Carlino’s heart leaps when he sees his mother under the tall pines, doing her washing. She turns, and gives a great cry of joy. As they embrace, she tells him that his godmother has written to her, explaining everything. Mlle. Pérard has spoken with Mario’s parents, as well; she’ll arrange for both young men to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. And Carlino’s mother and grandmother can live in Florence, with him. Perhaps they will let Carlino travel with his godmother, sometimes, and see the world?

Carlino’s mother calls to Stella, who is out picking wild mint. Francesca trembles at hearing that name. The girl appears. “She was found by the road, a little more than 10 years ago,” they tell Francesca. “Stella, embrace her as you would your mother.” Francesca gives a great cry of joy. All is explained.

“Then it was my own granddaughter, child of my Francesca, that I refused hospitality to, that night,” says Marc-Antonio. “And you, Giovanna Baldi, you sheltered her ... How can I repay you?” “You don’t owe me anything,” Carlino’s mother replies. “Even if you did, it was your wife who secretly left food on our window sill.” “Then she was actually caring for her own granddaughter, without knowing it!” cries Francesca.

“Which proves,” says Mlle. Anna Pérard, “that charity is never mistaken.”


Note: The 1914 text of La Marraine de Carlino published in book form shows a few slight differences from the 1912-1913 text in Mon Journal: there are occasional minor changes of paragraphing or wording; a few paragraphs are expanded or omitted; and several lines of Italian poetry are added. And the title of chapter 9 is corrected, from “Carlino’s Encounter” (already used for chapter 7) to “In the Forum.”

It should not be supposed that all fiction in Mon Journal was so sweetly sentimental. In the Detective Story, Herbelin and Plock certainly pull no punches with each other. And there’s a scene in one serial that actually shocked me:

In Les Petits Naufragés du Titanic (“The Little Castaways of the Titanic”), the serial that came immediately before the Orphan Story, a brother and sister escape the sinking ocean liner in a rowboat, helped by a cabin boy. Their mother, though severely weakened by exposure, wraps her coat around her children. In the morning, when the brother and sister awake, they find their mother is gone. The cabin boy says nervously that she transferred to a passing boat. The boy stares at him, not believing the lame story. In fact the mother died during the night and the cabin boy, opting for what he thought would be less traumatic for her children, lowered her over the side.

For other writings by the author, Madame B.-A. Jeanroy (1856-19??), see Appendix C.


The second serial the young Ayn Rand read in 1913 was a detective story. Her reaction to this serial was very different. It showed her how fiction could create events more exciting than those around her, and stimulated her to start writing her own stories. She started to read everything in the magazine, looking for other stories that suited her taste.



by Raphaël Lightone

Chapter 1 – The Registered Letter

Two veterans from the same French regiment enter the civil service, finding jobs in the Paris post office: Jean Plock, handsome, self-assured, well-connected, is made supervisor; while José Herbelin, a plain man who speaks little but sees everything, is one of his subordinates. Herbelin’s greatest wish is to join the police force. The two men are not friends; Herbelin is profoundly honest, but he knows that Plock has been involved in shady dealings, though always managing to extricate himself.

One day the central office telephones: a letter with 2000 francs in bank notes is missing. Plock casts suspicion upon Herbelin, who’s just put money in the bank (confided to him by his aged mother, who didn’t want her husband to find out). Unwilling to say where the money came from, Herbelin is dismissed. He puts on Plock’s tunic by mistake, and suddenly notices something in an inner pocket: five bank notes. He hurries to a judge, who tells him the serial numbers don’t match. “I aim to join the police,” Herbelin replies; “in a day I’ll have solved the mystery.” He seeks out several employees who’ve just received their salaries from Plock. Plock paid four of them with the missing bank notes. Plock is arrested. “You scum!” Herbelin tells him. “Wait,” snarls the thief, “you haven’t seen the last of me.” Plock is sentenced to six months in prison, while Herbelin is promoted. “Only till I’m made inspector in the Sûreté,”* he says, feeling he has a policeman’s blood in him.

* The Sûreté is the detective bureau of the French police.

Chapter 2 – The Mysterious Telegram

Late one night, Herbelin is delivering telegrams. He hears a cry for help, and seeing a band of men down the street, he hurries to the rescue. But as he nears the men, they appear to be nothing more than late-night carousers. They surround him, throw their arms around him, and insist that he come along. He manages to extricate himself, and continues on his way. Oddly, he finds an extra telegram in his sack, one that hasn’t been stamped by the office. Thinking that two telegrams must have been stuck together, he delivers it. The next afternoon, bothered by the incident, he goes to his chief; but they can find no record of that telegram being sent. Herbelin suspects it was slipped into his pouch by the supposed carousers ... who perhaps were criminals, preparing a robbery!

He goes back to the house where he delivered the telegram, and finds it deserted. A neighbor explains that the Count de Pradère just left for Biarritz, after receiving a telegram that his wife was seriously ill. Now Herbelin is sure there’s foul play. It’s late, he doesn’t know where the nearest police station is, so he decides to head off the mischief himself. He hides, and after a while sees two suspicious men observing the house. They go away. After a while, a policeman in a dark cape appears. Herbelin makes himself known, explains the situation, and asks for his aid. The policeman strokes his beard, and suggests they climb over the fence and wait in the garden. The two thieves return, climb the fence, and break a window. Abruptly the “policeman” strikes Herbelin, and forces a gag in his mouth. Herbelin grabs the man’s beard. It comes off, to reveal ... Plock! With a laugh, Plock ties him up, then takes out a flask and pours something on the gag ... something suffocating ... Herbelin loses consciousness.

It’s daylight. Herbelin awakes, to find himself in a chair, bound from head to foot. His head aches, and he can still smell chloroform. The room has been ransacked, and there’s a pile of half-burned papers, apparently extinguished by a gust of wind through the open window before the flames could reach him. Plock had meant to roast him alive. “You beat me this time,” Herbelin snarls, “but watch out for the next!” He hears voices, and the police come in. Immediately suspicious, they arrest him. And they find a calling card pinned to his clothes: “Plock and Company.” The judge, who’s been informed of the facts by Herbelin’s superior, frees him. Herbelin vows revenge upon Plock.

Chapter 3 – Herbelin’s Patron

Two months have passed. Plock’s band of thieves has been plundering art from museums and churches in the provinces. Herbelin is impatient; he still has not been appointed to the Sûreté. He stays with his cousin, a hairdresser, and becomes very proficient at making wigs. Monsieur Légiste, an old man in his sixties, has written to the prefect of police, to recommend Herbelin. Herbelin introduces himself to the prefect (who doubts whether he’s qualified, because of the way Plock tricked him), and tells him Légiste will come in person, that very afternoon. Légiste is announced at 4 P.M., and comes in to chat with his old friend the prefect. He tells him that, though inexperienced, Herbelin will make a good recruit, and eventually will nab Plock. Then, at 5 P.M., another Légiste comes in! Confounded, the prefect stares at both men. The first to arrive doffs his disguise, to reveal ... Herbelin himself! “You see,” he explains, “I’m not without resources. And the rest will come with experience ...” “Tomorrow,” the prefect tells the young man, “you may report for orders to the chief of the Sûreté.”

Chapter 4 – Fausta’s Halter

Herbelin fulfills several assignments with intelligence and courage. Then the chief summons him: suspicious characters, probably members of Plock’s band, have been overheard plotting to steal “Fausta’s Halter.” Fausta is a race horse belonging to the Baron de Rothschild. Herbelin’s task is to prevent the theft, and capture the band.

Herbelin doubts that Plock would steal a race horse; he suspects there’s some key to the mystery. He visits Henri, a friend from his old regiment, who is now valet for the Count de Pleurville. The valet is happy working for the young count and countess: she is adored in all the salons, always first in grace, intelligence and beauty, so her friends have nicknamed her “Madame Fausta,” after the famous race horse. And her jewels are spectacular: she owns a necklace worth 250,000 francs. Herbelin takes Henri’s place, passing himself off as his cousin, and familiarizes himself with the house.

Several days later, as Herbelin is giving his chief an update, a phone call comes in. The four year old daughter of the de Pleurvilles has been kidnapped! The governess was distracted, while two elderly, distinguished-looking ladies made off with the child from the park. The servants organize a search. Henri, coming back from his leave of absence, learns of the kidnapping, but without any of the details. Two distinguished old ladies come to the door, question him about the child, and urge him to go to the police as fast as he can to report it. He does so. When the rest of the servants return, half an hour later, they are just in time to see a car drive away with the two old ladies.

Herbelin and three colleagues arrive. He immediately realizes the significance of the two old ladies being left alone in the house, and goes to the salon. As he expects, the jeweled collar is gone. “This complicates things,” says his friend, Inspector Duval. “No, it clarifies them,” Herbelin replies, with a laugh; “this is Plock’s handiwork!” The count and countess return from the theatre. Herbelin assures them that they will soon see their daughter again; the kidnapping was merely a diversion, to make the theft possible. And they’ll also get the necklace back ... A few hours later, a rag-picker finds the child, safe, abandoned in a deserted neighborhood.

They return the child to her happy parents. “Still, it’s too bad the count has lost 250,000 francs,” says the prefect of police. “Not at all,” replies Herbelin, “but he does owe me 500 francs.” “You’re impudent, or mad!” exclaims the prefect. “No,” explains Herbelin: “two days ago I took the real necklace to the jeweler for safe-keeping. What Plock’s gang stole was a counterfeit I had made, for 500 francs.”

The prefect congratulates him. “Don’t congratulate me,” Herbelin says, “till I’ve captured Plock. In the end, there’ll be just him ... or me.”

Plock has grown notorious, and is surrounded by mystery. One officer saw him in Paris, another saw him in Versailles ... at the same time.

Chapter 5 – A Bandit’s Dog

One night Herbelin has dinner with Louis Lerat, a friend who lives in a poor section of Paris. On his way home, a huge Great Dane confronts the detective. Herbelin makes friends with it, giving it some bones he was taking home for his own dog; but it still will not let him pass. Herbelin guesses that it’s been trained to keep passers-by away while something suspicious is going on. Theft? That doesn’t seem likely; there’s nothing to steal from these poor hovels. Herbelin goes back to his friend’s house, borrows a rope, and takes to the roofs. He climbs to the roof of Père Lézard’s cabaret, a place with a very bad reputation. Hearing a voice, he leans over the edge, and eavesdrops ... It’s Plock’s voice! Through a window he sees ... Plock sitting and smoking, with a pipe in his mouth. Yet, oddly, he still hears Plock’s voice, plotting the theft of a precious 13th-century reliquary.

Suddenly a tile comes loose under Herbelin’s foot, and falls with a clatter to the courtyard. The bandits, alarmed, catch sight of him. Two shots of a revolver ring out. A bullet pierces Herbelin’s hat; and there’s the sound of a body falling into the next courtyard.

Chapter 6 – Doctor Cahut

The next morning, a hat with a bullet hole is found on the ground. A well-known local figure, Dr. Cahut, enters Lerat’s house. He leaves a little later, accompanied by Lerat. Questioned by neighbors, Lerat says a friend of his fell down the stairs, and fractured his skull. They return later in the day. Then an ambulance appears, and drives off with a body completely wrapped in bandages. Spies of Plock’s follow the ambulance to ... the morgue.

Dr. Cahut leaves the house, and goes to see the chief of the Sûreté. The doctor tells him that one of his inspectors, Herbelin, was killed last night. “What a misfortune!” cries the chief. “You can replace him,” the doctor says. “One can’t replace Herbelin,” the chief replies.

“I’m glad to hear you say that.” The “doctor” takes off his false nose, beard, and wig, and reveals himself as ... Herbelin. “Rascal!” cries the chief. “You gave me a fright!” Herbelin explains that when the shots rang out, barely missing him, he dropped some plaster and bricks into the courtyard to make Plock think he had fallen. He arranges for his friend Duval to help him track the thieves.

Chapter 7 – The Reliquary

From the conversation Herbelin overheard, he knows that Plock and his confederate La Massue, a powerful brute, plan to leave by train, then rendezvous with another gang member and continue by car. How to track them without knowing where they’ll get off the train? He goes to the archbishop’s office, and asks about valuable 13th-century reliquaries. There are six in all of France, he’s told. Judging by the station he’s leaving from, Plock is probably after the one at Mouzeil, near Nantes. Herbelin and Duval, disguised as ticket-takers, board the train and recognize Plock and La Massue, also in disguise. The criminals get off near Nantes. The detectives go on to reconnoiter the old church. They identify the most likely window the thieves will break in, then lie in wait. After several hours they hear the bandits’ car drive up. They watch while Plock and La Massue climb up and break the window; then, a while later, Plock emerges with the reliquary. As he is descending, Herbelin throws a rope to snare his legs. He misses. The two bandits spring on him and overpower him. He calls for Duval to help; but Duval doesn’t come! La Massue wants to strangle the detective; but Plock says he has another use for him. They tie him up, carry him to the car, and signal for the driver to depart.

Chapter 8 – The Reliquary (continued)

The car races back to Paris at breakneck speed. Plock taunts Herbelin about being abandoned by Duval, and promises to keep him as a hostage, then bury him alive. Herbelin shrugs his shoulders. After several hours the car enters Paris, and pulls into a street along the Seine. Plock suddenly realizes the car is going the wrong way. As it’s about to turn into a courtyard, Plock curses, jumps out the door and leaps into the river. In the courtyard four strong men spring upon La Massue. The driver pulls a knife, goes to Herbelin ... and cuts his bonds. Removing his cap and goggles, we see the driver is ... Duval! And they are in the courtyard of the Paris Sûreté. The two detectives explain to their chief that it was all a trap; while Plock was stealing the reliquary, they overpowered the driver and Duval took his place. Plock has escaped; but at least they have the reliquary, and La Massue.

Chapter 9 – Herbelin Looks for a Dog and Finds Cabbages

The police aren’t sure how many criminals are in Plock’s band. They do know he never follows the same routine twice. His thefts continue across the country: in churches, in museums, on the railroads, from the mails. He writes to the police, taunting them. The prefect of Police summons Herbelin, and thinks how sad it would be if such a resolute man, with his foresight, courage, and will of iron, were to be killed—he, the only one who can stop Plock.

Plock has raided an armory, stealing revolvers, carbines and cartridges. “Are you going to try to recover them?” asks the prefect. “No,” Herbelin replies, “I’m going to find that Great Dane I told you about” ... The detective does find the huge dog, in an almost rural section of Montmartre, near an old ruined house and a garden with a well. The dog, Dragon, belongs to an old man who appears to be a painter, who only goes out to try to sell a painting, or to buy cabbages. Herbelin, disguised, continues his surveillance. When he again sees the old man buy some enormous cabbages, he decides to investigate.

Chapter 10 – Herbelin Wins and Loses

Inspector Duval, disguised as a vegetable seller, joins Herbelin. To his surprise, he recognizes the cabbage seller as a suspected criminal, Nez-de-Chat. He invites the man for a drink; and while they’re in the tavern, Herbelin cuts open one of the cabbages. It’s hollowed out ... with jewels concealed in its center. They watch from a distance as Nez-de-Chat sells the cabbages to the supposed “painter.” “He’s Plock’s receiver of stolen goods,” says Herbelin. They take turns watching him. One night, Herbelin sees the old “painter” leave his house, carrying a heavy valise. He follows him as the man takes a train to Calais, then buys a packet boat ticket for Dover. No doubt the band is planning to dispose of the jewels in England. Herbelin arrests him on board the ship, handcuffs him, and finds more than 50,000 francs’ worth of jewelry in the valise. The detective returns to Paris, with his captive and the loot.

The prefect tells him that in the morning, they’re going to search the “painter’s” house. Herbelin goes home. He suddenly remembers that the “painter” was said to have a daughter–who, not seeing her father return, might give the alarm to Plock’s gang. The detective goes alone to the house. A woman lets him in–then bolts the door behind him. Plock and Nez-de-Chat spring upon him, tie him up, and take him down to the cellar. They blindfold him, and carry him down many steps to some deep, cold cavern. “You’ll starve to death,” Plock says; “and if you shout, no one can hear you. Here, I’ll leave you a companion.” He calls in Dragon, the ferocious Great Dane. “He’s of no further use to us; but tomorrow, he’ll be hungry ...”

Chapter 11 – Buried Alive

The prefect is alarmed when Herbelin fails to report for duty. Fearing the worst, he orders a sweep of the city, and a thorough search of the old “painter’s” house and cellar. The house is empty ... except for a note from Plock, telling them they’re too late. They search the cellar, without finding the hidden entrance to the cavern below.

For three days the police scour Paris. Meanwhile, Herbelin slowly cuts his bonds against the sharp edge of a rock. The dog recognizes him and licks his face. The thieves have emptied his pockets; but Herbelin always carries some matches in his socks, in case of emergency. He lights one, and finds he’s in a crevasse of some ancient quarry. There’s a wooden door, reinforced with iron bars—too strong to break down. He calls out, hoping someone might hear him ... to no avail. As time passes, he suffers more and more from hunger and thirst ... growing weaker and weaker. The dog, at least, catches a rat to satisfy its hunger. But Herbelin realizes he’s near death.

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Chapter 12 – The Well That Cries

Four children go exploring among the ruins of Montmartre, playing in the bushes. Suddenly one of them hears a faint sound ... a distant wailing ... like a dog whining. The sounds are coming from an old well. They run to a policeman. He follows them, and hears the sounds, too; but tells them nothing can be done, they’d break their necks trying to rescue the animal. A small crowd has gathered. “What’s going on?” asks a distinguished lady, with her small daughter. When the policeman explains, she is indignant. “I’m going to the prefect of police,” she says. She is the Countess de Pleurville, whose kidnapped daughter Herbelin had returned to her. At the station, Duval hears about the dog and realizes there’s a chance this might lead them to Herbelin.

A fireman climbs down the well on a rope. He cuts away some of the vegetation that blocks the way, then a second fireman replaces him. Finally Duval himself takes their place. He reaches the bottom. There is no water, and no dog. The whining is coming out of the wall. With pickaxes, the men enlarge a crack in the rock ... and a dog’s head emerges. The men call out. There is no response. They try to coax the dog into a basket; but it will not leave. Duval enlarges the breach—and sees Herbelin, apparently lifeless. He presses his ear to Herbelin’s chest—and hears a heartbeat! They raise him to the surface.

That evening there is joy at police headquarters: the hospital reports that Herbelin will recover. In a month, he should be ready to return to work. And the prefect gets a note from the Countess’s young daughter, with a check to pay Herbelin’s expenses.

Chapter 13 – Duval Arrests His Friend Herbelin

Plock’s band is terrorizing the entire country. The police do make some progress; on the day Herbelin, completely recovered, returns to work, he’s told that 21 members of the band have been arrested. But the three most dangerous are still at large: Nez-de-Chat, Ouragan, and Plock himself.

Herbelin, determined and resolute as ever, says that during his convalescence he’s studied the art of disguise even further ... Disguised as a beautiful young lady, he visits many jewelry stores. At one shop he spies the daughter of the old “painter.” She asks to see many different purses, then, while the jeweler is distracted, slips a sapphire into her muff. Herbelin follows her out to the street and notes the address she gives to the driver. He then arrests her, takes her to headquarters, and goes to that address. The concierge says the woman doesn’t live there, she merely receives mail. And there’s a letter waiting for her now. The detective opens it. “Meet us at midnight,” it says, “at Père Lézard’s; Plock and Nez-de-Chat will be there, if they’re back in town.” The note is signed: “The Other.”

Père Lézard is in fact a police informant, though, to avoid suspicion, the times when he aids the police are few and far between. Herbelin goes to his tavern, and arranges to take the waiter’s place that night, disguised as him. After midnight, several members of Plock’s band come in. Herbelin waits on them, and hears them say that tomorrow night the gang will be busy with the affair in the Rue de la Vertu.

Suddenly fifteen police officers come in, brandishing revolvers, to arrest all the customers. Herbelin mocks the police. Duval, not recognizing him, arrests Herbelin, too.

Chapter 14 – The Police Breathe Again ... and Sigh

Back at the police station, everyone has a laugh at Duval’s expense for not recognizing his friend. Herbelin now disguises himself as an old seller of newspapers, and stations himself in the Rue de la Vertu. He notices that there’s a sudden break in a water pipe, in a building where a moneychanger’s shop is located. Three plumbers are called in. After a while, they go out to lunch. Shortly thereafter Herbelin sees two plumbers go back in, with more tools. An hour later, the three plumbers return from lunch, finish the repair, and leave. Herbelin understands that the two men who went in during the lunch break were imposters. He goes back to the station and makes detailed plans with the chief.

That night, the police round up Plock’s look-outs in the street. They then wait patiently for the two “plumbers” still in the building to make their move. Most likely they are tunneling through the floor of the moneychanger’s shop. Finally the two “plumbers” leave. Immediately the police arrest them. But the men are carrying nothing except their tools: no loot at all.

Yet there is indeed a tunnel dug into the moneychanger’s shop; and two strongboxes have been cut open with a torch. There must be a third thief, somewhere, who made off with the goods. But how? Herbelin notices soot on the floor around the fireplace. By hauling it up the chimney, he says. A third man was stationed on the roof, with a rope. And he must still be up there! It’s too dark to climb down. Officers stand guard in the street, watching for the criminal’s next move. Herbelin climbs up after him.

He finds a rope coiled next to the chimney. But the thief is nowhere to be seen. He listens. Faintly, there’s the sound of a struggle ... coming from an open garret window, nearby. Herbelin goes to the window, lowers himself in, and sees an intruder throttling a man in his bed. Quickly the detective throws a handful of Cayenne pepper in the bandit’s eyes. Screaming, the man blindly fires his gun. Herbelin disarms him, ties him up and turns him over. “Plock!” he cries. “It’s Plock!”

Hearing the shot, other policemen come in, recover the bags of loot, and take Plock to the station. The chief of the Sûreté and the prefect of police come to see the notorious criminal. The latter, tied in a chair, smiles in mockery but says nothing. Suddenly Herbelin cries out: “This isn’t Plock!” The real Plock has a small tattoo on one hand. This man must be “The Other” they’ve heard referred to ... a look-alike ... That explains why Plock has been seen in two places at once, and was heard speaking when he seemed to be smoking.

Chapter 15 – Life or Death

Returning home from the theater one night, Herbelin sees a suspicious character remove a manhole in the street. He alerts the nearest police station. They watch as housebreakers throw sacks of stolen goods down into the sewer. To evade the police, who patrol the streets constantly, Plock’s band is using the sewers to transport their loot. The police move in, to arrest gang members La Vipère, Le Coutelier and Le Corbeau.

Herbelin takes two days off for a well-earned vacation, in the forests of Rambouillet, near Paris. He goes fishing, taking his own dog, Pierrot, and Dragon, whom he’s adopted. The dogs enjoy themselves, chasing pheasants. Suddenly Plock’s henchmen La Ficelle and Nez-de-Chat emerge from among the trees, and fire on the detective. He plunges into the lake, to escape. He holds his breath as long as he can, but becomes tangled in weeds. Finally coming up for air, he hears horrible screams. Dragon is ripping La Ficelle’s throat out. Pierrot, though bleeding, is chasing the other bandit.

“We’ll heal your wounds,” the detective tells Pierrot; “and as for you, Dragon, it’s live together or die together, from now on!”

Chapter 16 – A Nephew Who Wants to Inherit

One foggy night Herbelin, disguised as a telegraph agent, is keeping a gambling house under surveillance. He notices a car with its lights out pull up to a nearby house. Its license number is covered up. The detective goes to the driver, says he’s lost his glasses, and asks if he can read the addresses on two telegrams for him. The driver takes the telegrams for a moment, and does so. Herbelin then watches from a distance until, an hour later, two men emerge from the house, and the driver goes off with them.

The telegrams are tested for fingerprints. The prints turn out to be those of Ouragan, a member of Plock’s band. Herbelin, in the meantime, investigates the young man who lives in the house. He has gambled away his parents’ fortune and run through numerous handouts from his rich aunt, who now threatens to disinherit him unless he changes his ways. The detective fears the young man is conspiring with Plock’s band to murder his aunt.

The prefect has the old lady, Mlle. de Héric, brought to his office, and informs her that she is in danger. While the prefect is talking with her, a man brought in by Herbelin keeps peering at her, then working on something hidden behind a desk. The old lady is persuaded to stay away from her house for a few days. And Herbelin prepares an extraordinary trap.

Chapter 17 – Plock Asks Herbelin for Help

An ambulance drives up to the rich aunt’s estate at Enghien. Two men carry the old lady into her house, on a stretcher. The two men are Duval and Herbelin, in disguise. As the days pass Herbelin keeps an eye on things. Finally he sees a man stop to fix the tire of his bicycle, in front of the house. He recognizes Nez-de-Chat.

That night the detective lies in wait, alone, by the shore of the nearby lake. He watches as the three gang members still at large steal into the woman’s bedroom. They see her lying there ... unmoving, eyes staring, wearing a necklace. Plock reaches for her. Suddenly he drops his lantern, with an agonized cry. “Help me!” Nez-de-Chat approaches. He too screams. Ouragan goes to the bed ... and like his fellows, trembles, screaming.

Herbelin enters the room, revolver in hand. “Help me!” Plock begs. “This time, I think you’re caught,” the detective laughs. He phones the Sûreté. Three cars are on the way, with a dozen men. After three quarters of an hour they arrive. “Stay back,” Herbelin warns. He throws a switch. On the bed is a wax figure of the old woman—her bed and the necklace, electrified. The criminals, too weak to resist, are bound and taken away.

The next morning, newspapers report that the master criminal has been caught! Herbelin is named Chief Inspector, recommended for a medal ... and congratulated by all of Paris.



The 1914 text of Herbelin contre Plock published in book form is virtually identical to the 1913 text in Mon Journal; I’ve found only two tiny, inconsequential changes (the addition of an “and,” and a substitution of “He” for “Herbelin”).

The prefect of police is M. Laroze; the chief of the Sûreté is M. Crabe.

Many of Plock’s band use aliases:

La Massue = “The Crowbar”

Ouragan = “Hurricane”

Nez-de-Chat = “Cat’s Nose”

La Ficelle = “The Trick”

Le Coutelier = “The Cutler”

La Vipère = “The Viper”

Le Corbeau = “The Crow”


Little is known of the author; besides a listing of his works in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), I found only one reference to him on the internet, on the website of the city of Nort-sur-Erde (located near the canal from Nantes to Brest). From :

En 1899, Eugène Louis Rousseau alias Raphaël LIGHTONE, originaire de Nort-sur-Erdre, écrit des recueils hebdomadaires pour enfants intitulés MON JOURNAL.

(“In 1899, Eugène Louis Rousseau alias Raphaël LIGHTONE, native of Nort-sur-Erde, wrote for the weekly children’s anthology titled
Mon Journal

I found 20 short stories by Lightone in the 1897-98 volume of Mon Journal (most under his pseudonym, but a few signed Eugène Rousseau), including some about Herbelin’s boyhood. “Les tribulations d’Herbelin” (“The Tribulations of Herbelin”), for instance, is a 5 page story in the September 24, 1898 issue. (There’s also a book by that name in the BNF, probably a collection of stories.) Young Herbelin, brimming with self-confidence, accepts a job fetching a cow for a butcher, even though he’s never handled cows before; halfway home, he thinks he could handle 4 cows at a time; then the trouble begins. After many trials, he finally delivers the cow. When offered another job, he says yes, only not this year.

A Raphaël Lightone serial about the 14 year old Herbelin, Un Joyeux Loustic (“A Merry Wag”), appeared in Mon Journal from Feb. 10 – June 1, 1912 (far less exciting, alas, than the detective story itself). In this serial Herbelin, always eager to do odd jobs, is cheated out of his pay by avaricious neighbors, but cleverly turns the tables on them.

The detective genre, originated in the 1840s by Edgar Allan Poe with his Parisian sleuth C. Auguste Dupin (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”), was very popular in early 1900s France. Dozens of pulp fiction titles flooded the market, the most famous of which were the Arsène Lupin series and the Fantômas series. The former was a “gentleman thief” (forerunner of Simon Templar); the latter was a monstrous but colorful arch-criminal, relentlessly pursued by Inspector Juve of the Paris Sûreté. In fact, the second novel in the Fantômas series was titled Juve contre Fantômas (1911, made into a silent film serial in 1913). Though the Fantomas and Herbelin novels differ greatly in tone, they do have a couple of plot similarities (commonly used devices in pulp literature): the extensive use of disguise, and the setting of elaborate traps for one’s opponent. (For instance, Herbelin’s electrified bed reminds me of the spiked belt Juve wears to bed, to wound Fantômas’ killer boa constrictor.) For further background, see and


There is another legendary sunken city besides Atlantis. Far less well known, it’s rarely heard of outside France except in connection with Eduard Lalo’s 1888 opera “Le Roi d’Ys” (“The King of Ys”) or Claude Debussy’s 1910 piano prelude “La cathédrale engloutie” (“The Submerged Cathedral”), said to have been inspired by the same legend.

Georges Gustave-Toudouze (1877-1974) was a prolific French author with a strong interest in regional folklore, history, and the sea (as evidenced by the hundreds of books by him for sale online). These interests are all combined in his imaginative masterpiece, Le Petit Roi d’Ys.



by Georges Gustave-Toudouze

Chapter 1 – Mauricette’s Purse

The throb of the motor comes to a stop, as the anchor of a great white yacht plunges into the sea. The noise wakes up 14 year old Jobic on his boat the Corentine, near the pier at Morgat on the Breton coast. The boy grumbles to his companions, a black and white retriever named Ar-Men and a black, white and yellow cat named Tricolor. “What are they doing here?” he asks curiously. “They’re up to something.” The boy and his animals watch the graceful maneuvers of the 3-masted yacht, Enchanter Merlin. Sailors lower a boat, as a man with a white beard gives orders.

“What? A sailor girl?” scoffs Jobic, spying a tall blond girl in a sailor suit who stands next to the yacht owner.

“My purse! Grandfather, my purse!” cries the girl, as a gold-colored object falls into the water.

“Clumsy,” says the boy. “Girls ... they’re good for nothing, on land; at sea, they’re even worse!”

“Mother’s purse! It’s lost!” sobs the girl.

“Ah! If it’s a keepsake, that’s different,” says Jobic. “No more sarcasm; I’m sorry for her. You understand?” “Gnouf!” says Ar-Men. “Mrrreow!” approves Tricolor.

One of the sailors sees the purse resting on the sandy bottom, and tries to snag it. “A hundred francs if you can bring up Mauricette’s purse,” says the man with the white beard.

“We’ll get it, Monsieur de Mornant,” says the sailor.

They try, and fail. “They’ll never get it,” says Jobic. “Should we help them?” Skillfully he rows over to the yacht, and offers his services. Several of the sailors laugh at his boat’s patched sail and crew of animals; but M. de Mornant accepts the offer.

“I’ll do it for free,” says the boy. “Just to show your fair-weather sailors.” He turns to his dog and cat. “Stay here!” he orders.

In spite of his youth, he proves to be an expert diver. On the first dive, from his own boat, he brings up nothing; on the second try he touches the purse but doesn’t get it; but on his third dive, from the deck of the yacht, he reaches bottom and brings up the purse. The sailors cheer.

Chapter 2 – Saved from the Sea

“Who am I? I don’t really know,” the boy replies to M. de Mornant’s question. “The fisherman Yan Callec found me adrift 12 years ago, on a foundering vessel, alone with a dog. It was near the lighthouse at Cape Ar-Men. He named me Jobic, and the dog Ar-Men.”

Also present, peering through his glasses, are M. de Mornant’s old friend, chemist Jérôme Trottier, who is Mauricette’s godfather; and the scientist’s assistant, M. Treskovon. The latter, a thin young man with a moustache, mistrusts the boy.

Mauricette, who’s not quite 14, thanks Jobic. “The purse ... it was left to me by my mother ... she’s dead, now ...”

The boy nods, understandingly. “Yan Callec, who found me and raised me and taught me his trade, is dead, too. He drowned in a storm. He left me his hut and his boat.”

They hear Ar-Men barking for his master. M. de Mornant confers with Jérôme Trottier, then turns to the boy. “Are you sure you won’t accept any payment for helping my granddaughter?” The boy declines. “Then please come back this afternoon,” says M. de Mornant. “I’d like to talk with you, then.” The boy agrees to return, then climbs down a cable to his boat.

Chapter 3 – Secret of the City of Ys

M. de Mornant tells Mauricette they’ve made inquiries about Jobic, confirming his story; he is known as an honest, industrious lad. Mauricette is delighted to see the boy again, when he comes aboard with Ar-Men and Tricolor. The dog and cat sit obediently, when told. M. de Mornant invites the boy to join their crew. Captain Gerbier will teach him navigation, while Jérôme Trottier will teach him mechanics and electricity.

“But ... what about my home?”

“I plan to stay in this vicinity,” replies M. de Mornant, “pursuing researches in the bay of Douarnenez.”

“Ah!” says the boy. “Where the city of Ys was, formerly. I’ve seen it often, myself.”

“What!” cries M. de Mornant, leaping to his feet. “You’ve seen it?”

“Certainly,” says Jobic. “Everyone around here has heard about the ancient city swallowed by the sea.”

“I’ve come to search it out,” says M. de Mornant. “My yacht is filled with special equipment I’ve built, just for that purpose. You say you’ve actually seen it?”

“Yan Callec showed it to me. He spent 40 years at sea, and saw things landlubbers know nothing of. His nets brought up carved stones ... and he showed me where not to cast anchor, to avoid snagging the walls down below.” Local legends say the city was drowned when King Gradlon’s wicked daughter opened the floodgates; Jérôme Trottier says it was an earthquake that buried the city under a hundred meters of water, 16 centuries ago.

Mauricette hopes Jobic will guide them there, “though that won’t please grandfather’s rival, that villain who opposes him at every turn—”

Treskovon protests. “What if M. Saint-Galicher heard you use those words?”

“I detest him,” says Mauricette, “and you can tell him so yourself!”

“I don’t know him,” swears Treskovon.

M. de Mornant turns to Jobic. “We’re counting on you. Will you take us to the spot?”

The boy salutes. “At your orders, commandant. And,” turning to Mauricette, “the young commandante’s.”

Chapter 4 –The First Stone

Mauricette explains to Jobic that her grandfather has a rival, M. Saint-Galicher. Her grandfather was a prominent manufacturer of motors. Now he’s turned the factory over to Mauricette’s father, to devote himself to archaeological research. And at every step the jealous Saint-Galicher has opposed him, ridiculing his theories and competing with him for a place in the Academy.

The yacht arrives at the point Jobic indicated, between the Cape de la Chêvre and the Pointe du Van. “We’re near enough,” says Jobic, “you’ll bring something up.”

Treskovon, readying the mechanism, sneers at the boy. “He certainly gives himself airs!” They take the first sounding. The cable hits bottom.

“Did you get anything?” asks M. de Mornant.

“No,” replies Treskovon.

“Try 100 meters to the west-southwest—you’ll snag something there!” says Jobic.

Captain Gerbier steers the yacht to the indicated place. “Nothing!”

“Try again,” insists Jobic.

Treskovon operates the mechanism. When raised to the surface, the pincers are empty. “It’s brought up nothing but mud and silt.”

“Not true!” cries Jobic. “The bottom isn’t sandy here, it’s rocky. Look, your apparatus is dirty! That’s from the bay of Morgat!”

The others approach, and examine the mechanism. Treskovon turns red.

“The boy’s right,” says M. de Mornant. “Treskovon, how could you make such a mistake?”

“It’s no wonder the pincers don’t bring up anything,” says Jobic. “Look.”

M. de Mornant sees that the screws are completely loosened.

“M. Treskovon,” he says, “two errors in a row are inadmissible! This is negligence!”

Jérôme Trottier tightens the screws. They sound again.

“Got something!”

They haul it up, and scrape seaweed off the black object.

“A carved stone!”

Chapter 5 – Beneath the Crystal Waves

On the front deck of the yacht, the sailors assemble a seaplane, designed by Mauricette’s father, grandfather, and Trottier. Treskovon joins the sailors, and does something to the mechanism.

Captain Gerbier prepares a map for the aviators. While Jérôme Trottier is piloting, Jobic will record their observations.

The boy entrusts his cat and dog to Mauricette. She puts a collar and chain on Ar-Men, so he won’t jump into the sea after his master. The seaplane takes off, and flies in circles. The sailors cheer, as Ar-Men barks.

“Why are they circling that spot?” asks Mauricette. “Have they found something?”

The plane returns to swoop low over the yacht, and drops a note: “Victory!” Everyone cheers. Suddenly:

“They’re falling!”

There’s a jet of flame, as the plane crashes into the sea.

Chapter 6 – The Phantom Under Water

Captain Gerbier orders a boat lowered, as he speeds toward the swirling patch of foam where the plane went down. Mauricette grabs a telescope. “There they are! I see them!” But a pulley gets stuck, and the longboat hangs suspended in air.

The dog rears up, howling. Mauricette hurries to unchain him and cries, “Go, Ar-Men!” The animal leaps, knocking Treskovon out of the way, and springs into the water as the longboat, finally freed, speeds toward the wreck.

“Jobic! He’s swimming! And Ar-Men—he’s grabbed Trottier by the jacket!”

The boat returns, carrying them all to safety.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know,” says Trottier. “There was an explosion ... but ... we saw it! Ys! Jobic was right! ... Ruins ... houses ... palaces ... fortresses ... a whole city, sleeping under the waves!” And Jobic has managed to save the map, with its detailed markings.

“No more sounding! No more seaplane! Now, for the submarine!”

Chapter 7 – Tricolor’s Discovery

“You want to play, this morning?” asks Mauricette. Tricolor, who has installed himself in the girl’s cabin, replies with a miaow. The girl is writing a long letter to her father, describing recent events. The cat swats at her pen, then grabs the girl’s handkerchief and scampers out of the room.

“Kitty, kitty, where are you?” cries Mauricette, running after him.

Jobic joins her in the corridor. “What’s he done now, commandante?”

They corner the mischievous animal, and take something from his paws. “That’s not my handkerchief!” The cat has snatched a paper from somewhere ... a torn letter. Mauricette reads it, then hurries to show it to Jérôme Trottier:

... ... ... ... ... so far, so good

... ... ... ... ... still not enough.

... ... ... ... ... and tamper with

... ... ... ... scientific apparatus

... ... ... ... ... can’t give results.

... ... ... the money, count on me.

... ... ... every man has his price.

... ... As for that phony, Mornant,

I authorize any means whatever ...

Any! You understand? I hate him!

I’m counting on you, my dear Nal-


“There’s a traitor on board!” “But—there’s no one on board named Nal, or anything like that. Probably it was one of those mechanics who did some work for us. They’ve gone ashore.” “He tried to kill you!” “And he failed.”

“I’m going to keep my eyes open, just the same,” promises Jobic.

Chapter 8 – Descent into the Abyss

Moored to the starboard side of the Enchanter Merlin is a strange vessel: long, pointed at both ends, made of metal, with wheels on the bottom and a propeller on the rear. It’s fitted with mechanical arms, and on top there’s a cabin with windows.

M. de Mornant tells the assembled crew: “The city of Ys lies below. It’s time to wake it from its centuries-long slumber. As you’ve seen, our submarine, the King Gradlon, is ready. My friend Trottier, along with Treskovon and Bernadet the mechanic, have put it through its paces—diving, maneuvering, surfacing. Now we need a crew of twelve to do the work. I’m going, along with Trottier, Treskovon, Bernadet, and young Jobic as our guide.” He calls for volunteers.

“Me! Me!” cries the whole crew.

“Thanks, my friends. But I can’t take you all.”

“And me?” asks Captain Gerbier.

The old man shakes his head. “I need you up here, in case there’s any trouble. I’ll be in communication with you, by wireless.” He turns to the crew. “There’s only room for seven of you.”

“No, grandfather, six,” says Mauricette, “you’re forgetting me.”

“You?” he cries.

“I don’t see why you should leave me behind.”

“Because ... because ... you’re a girl ...”

“Grandfather, I’m 14,” she insists, “almost a young woman ... I’ve gone along on all your expeditions and diggings. Haven’t I always brought you luck? And you’ve made a diver’s suit for me.”

“For later, yes, but ...”

“No! I’m going on the first expedition.”

Treskovon says timidly, “It might be dangerous ...”

“That’s my business!” cries Mauricette. “And if it’s dangerous for me, it’s dangerous for the ones I love ... all the more reason for me not to part from them.”

“Very well,” cries M. de Mornant, embracing her, “I’ll take you.”

Vive the commandante!” cries Jobic, echoed by the entire crew.

To choose the remaining members of the expedition, her grandfather has Mauricette draw names out of her hat. Preparations are quickly completed. M. de Mornant sends Treskovon and the mechanic Bernadet down below, to make a final check of the submarine’s mechanisms.

“All is ready.” Trottier sends Treskovon back to the yacht, to fetch the photographic apparatus. The crew starts climbing down into the submarine. M. de Mornant shakes hands with Captain Gerbier. “We have plenty of supplies ... and 48 hours of air, in addition to the chemical generators. I’ll keep in constant touch with you, by wireless.”

Suddenly Ar-Men and Tricolor run on deck and leap onto the submarine. “No animals on board!” “M. de Mornant!” cries Captain Gerbier. “Treskovon tried to stop the dog, and fell down the stairs ... I think he’s broken something!” The photographic apparatus is intact, but Treskovon with his injured leg has to be left behind. Sailors return the dog and cat to the yacht.

The hatch is fastened, cables cast off. Gracefully the submarine plunges beneath the waves.

Chapter 9 – Monstrous Enigma

Captain Gerbier goes to the bridge, and puts on the headphones. “Hallo!”

“Hallo!” replies Trottier. “All is going well. We’re headed south-southeast ... Bernadet is at the motor, the sailors have turned on the lamps ... it’s like a fairyland, down here ... There it is! We’re above the city!”

“This is Mauricette, now. Godfather has gone to another porthole, with grandfather and Jobic ... there’s a sort of half-ruined palace, covered with seaweed ... How pretty! Now there’s a rampart ... an old quay, grandfather says ... we’re over the old port ... we’ve touched bottom, and are moving along on our wheels, now ... like an automobile,” she laughs.

Then there is silence ... a silence that lasts far too long.

After a while Captain Gerbier hears a strained voice, M. de Mornant’s: “We’ve had an accident ... a serious one. Everything stopped at once. Nothing’s working any more ... not the propeller, not the wheels, not the mechanical arms ...”

“Good God!” cries the Captain. “Cast away the ballast! You’ll rise to the surface.”

“We’ve tried to. We can’t.”

“Then put on your diving suits, and leave through the lock. We’ll be waiting for you at the surface.”

“The lock doesn’t work.”

Captain Gerbier shudders.

“We’re counting on you,” says M. de Mornant. “Send a wireless to the admiral at Brest. Ask him to send a salvage vessel. Sail to our location, set out buoys and wait for the admiral there. We’re at ...” The transmission halts in mid-sentence.

“Hallo? Hallo?”

There’s only silence ... nothing but silence for the next sixty hours, as Captain Gerbier, a navy cruiser, five torpedo boats, two tugs and thirty fishing vessels search the bay, sounding and looking for any sign of the explorers. Anxiety gives way to despair. On the morning of the fifth day the crew hears two cannon shots, signaling a discovery. They cry out in sorrow, as they see a torpedo boat’s flag lowered to half mast. A lieutenant comes aboard, showing a twisted object that’s just been fished up: a wooden wheel, marked “horizontal rudders.” The Captain recognizes it’s from the King Gradlon. All hope is gone, now.

The yacht sails back to the harbor at Morgat. Treskovon asks to be carried ashore, to a villa where he says his injured leg will be cared for. But as soon as the sailors leave, he leaps out of bed. A short, fat, coarse-looking man walks in. “Good day, Nalliers,” he says. “You’ve done well. Only I wish the girl didn’t have to die with them.”

“Nor did I, master; though she did always refer to you as ‘that villain Saint-Galicher.’”

“Did she, now? ... Charming child.”

“She insisted at the last minute on going.”

“It’s of little importance ... Now, let the newspapers know I’m taking over my competitor’s researches, and donating a thousand francs for a monument to those martyrs of science.”

Chapter 10 – Captives of the Sea

We return to the submarine, as it’s preparing to submerge:

M. de Mornant turns to his granddaughter, while sailors remove the dog and cat. “Mauricette, we can’t have those animals underfoot.” “I put them in my cabin, grandfather.” “Apparently not; Treskovon says they ran out of the laboratory.” “He’s lying, grandfather!”

“We’re diving,” says Trottier; “there’s no time now for inquiries.”

As the King Gradlon plunges into the depths, Jobic and Mauricette watch, entranced, through the portholes. There are forests of undulating seaweed, strange fish darting past, shadowy rocks forming a strange landscape.

Suddenly the floodlights reveal half-ruined towers, houses, a fortress, a cathedral. “Ys! The city of Ys!”

At M. de Mornant’s order, they touch bottom, and the submarine rolls along for a while. Suddenly bizarre noises come from the machinery, as the submarine grinds to a halt. M. de Mornant sends Jobic down to the engine room, to inquire. The boy finds Bernadet bent over the motor. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” snaps the mechanic. “I’m going for M. Treskovon.”

“M. Treskovon isn’t on board.”

“Not on board?” cries Bernadet, suddenly terrified. “The wretch! He’s sacrificed me!” He scrambles up the ladder.

The whole crew gathers around. Bernadet stands like a trapped animal. Jérôme Trottier tries the rudder, the propeller, the wheels. Nothing works. M. de Mornant reaches Captain Gerbier on the radio, and is about to give the submarine’s position. Suddenly the electricity goes out.

“It’s no use,” cries Bernadet. “None of us is going to leave here alive!”

Chapter 11 – Council of War

Trottier turns on a flashlight.

“I’m guilty,” the mechanic confesses. “I was out of work. My old acquaintance Nalliers got me this job. He calls himself Treskovon, now. He bribed me to sabotage some of the instruments ... to keep you from succeeding. But ... that’s all! ... I had nothing to do with the plane crash ... or trying to kill anyone! I swear it!”

“You’re gravely at fault.”

“I am,” he acknowledges, begging for a chance to redeem himself.

“All right ... I believe you; your life hangs in the balance, as well as ours,” says M. de Mornant. He turns to the group. “I’m counting on all of you. And you can count on me! Get some rest, while Trottier and I make plans ... We need to inspect the equipment, and prepare our sortie; the city of Ys awaits us!”

Chapter 12 – Escape

The sailors are readying the twelve diving suits. They are of a new design, equipped with lamps, radios, and oxygen generators. M. de Mornant goes to a forward compartment. He finds Trottier and two sailors working on a peculiar underwater car, with serrated wheels and an airlock. “Good news!” says Trottier. “That scoundrel Treskovon didn’t have time to damage our Periwinkle! ... It won’t set any speed records, but my goddaughter and I will drive in it.”

“Ah, you can ride in it yourself,” laughs Mauricette, sticking her head out of a compartment; “I’ll take a walk in my diving suit!”

“You, you,” grumbles Trottier affectionately. “You’ll do as you’re told.”

“Never in my life!” protests Mauricette. “I’ve had enough of being cooped up! I’m going to see Ys from close up, like Jobic—not through a porthole.”

Jobic and Bernadet are removing screws from the submarine’s airlock. “The pumps won’t work,” says Bernadet. “That means when we remove the doors, the sea will rush in and flood the whole ship. You’d better put everything you want to save into the Periwinkle.”

“It won’t matter what happens to the submarine.”

“But what will Saint-Galicher think when he finds it empty ... with no bodies in it?”

“What are you saying?”

“He’ll insist on joining the search. If they fish up the submarine ... he’ll be warned.”

“The wretch!”

M. de Mornant assigns each crew member his task. “The suits have 33 hours of oxygen, as well as food and water. We’ll explore the sunken city!” They don their suits. Because of the tremendous force of the inrushing water, M. de Mornant insists that Mauricette join Trottier inside the Periwinkle. With sharp tools three sailors puncture holes in the outer door. Jets of water burst in, flooding the ship, while everyone struggles to stay upright. Finally the pressure equalizes, and they push the door aside. The red and white searchlights of the Periwinkle reveal the walls of Ys, in the distance.


They march out onto the rocky ocean floor, followed by the Periwinkle. M. de Mornant sends Jobic and one of the sailors back to the abandoned submarine, to obliterate the evidence of their escape with a stick of dynamite.

“Poor King Gradlon,” sighs Mauricette, as the explosion destroys the abandoned craft.

The shock wave hits the city. A portion of the old wall trembles, then falls in a heap of stones, leaving a gaping hole.

“The city of Ys is opening for us!” cries Jobic.

Chapter 13 – Mystery of the Ruins

They find themselves on the western end of the drowned metropolis, by the ancient quay. Trottier stops the Periwinkle where its spotlights will illuminate a path into the city, then emerges through its lock along with Mauricette, both in their diving suits. They all climb over the rocks and start to explore the ruins.

Jobic names various fish and crabs, and warns of the dangerous eels that lurk in holes and crevices. Mauricette points to a large building near the quay, covered with seaweed. “Look, they don’t trim the ivy!” Everyone laughs.

“That must be the harbormaster’s office,” observes one of the sailors. Jobic takes his metal pick and carves on the facade:


“Bravo!” cry the sailors.

They proceed down the main street, Jobic and Mauricette in the lead, while Trottier sketches a map.

“A cliff!” A vast stone hill rears up before them, with steps carved in its side, disappearing into the darkness above. “This must be the hill the palace of King Gradlon sits on,” says M. de Mornant. One of the sailors climbs up, till his lamp is barely visible, then climbs back down. “There’s a plateau, covered by ruins,” he says.

“The palace! Let’s go to it!” Mauricette scrambles up the rocky debris that covers the bottommost steps. Suddenly a rock gives way beneath her feet. She struggles for balance, then, with a cry, disappears down a dark crevasse.

Chapter 14 – Air! Air!

“My child!” cries M. de Mornant, anguished. He leaps toward the opening, but a sailor takes his arm. “Let us handle it, chief—”

Jobic makes sure his hatchet is in his belt, then, before any of them can act, lowers himself over the edge.

“I’ll go!” he cries.

They watch anxiously as he climbs down into the unknown depths. The light of his lamp grows dimmer and dimmer. Finally it disappears.

“Jobic! Jobic!”

There’s no reply.

“Please, monsieur,” begs Bernadet, “I promise I’ll bring her back.” He starts climbing down, and is soon lost in darkness, except for the light of his lamp. Suddenly the light disappears.

They all prepare to climb down after him. “Wait!” says a sailor. “There’s a light, again!” They watch anxiously as the light approaches. Bernadet reappears.

“The children are safe,” he says. “They’re waiting for you, in a very fine place, too ... in the air.”


“Follow me.”

They all descend. At the bottom they find a horizontal passage, that soon starts to ascend steeply ... the stone floor of the passage suddenly gives way to sand ... and there’s no more water ... there’s air! Mauricette and Jobic, their helmets off, are smiling at them. She rushes into the arms of her grandfather and godfather.

They all take off their helmets. The air in the chamber is cold, but breathable. There are columns, statues ... “See, I’ve brought you luck,” says the girl. “This way leads to the surface.”

“Not necessarily,” says Trottier. “This chamber is probably a pocket the air got trapped in, when the sea swallowed the city. In fact, I believe we’re in a secret basement of the king’s palace.”

“Look!” Jobic and Mauricette, lamps in hand, have found an alcove. They hug each other, excitedly. Before them is an ancient bas-relief. The others gather around. It’s a great statue of a crowned figure mounted on horseback, sword at his side, scepter in hand. On the broken base of the statue are the deeply-carved letters GRADL ...

“The old king of Ys!” cries M. de Mornant.

Chapter 15 – Guests of the King

“Wake up, everyone!” cries Jérôme Trottier. “There’s work to be done!” They all prepare for their assigned tasks ... all except Mauricette, who’s sleeping so soundly they decide not to wake her.

“For the past three days she’s been running around outside in her diving suit,” says one of the sailors, “or exploring the galleries in here.” Trottier has parked the Periwinkle near the entrance, taking photographs of everything, and they’ve made this place their headquarters, to conserve their oxygen. They’ve found many artifacts: pottery, furniture, a helmet, weapons, glassware, part of a garment with metal buttons, statuettes, all arranged now in a corner that Mauricette calls “the museum.”

Trottier asks Jobic to remain behind with the girl. When she awakes, they can join the others if they like, in the lower gallery they’re now exploring.

Mauricette wakes up, eventually. She suggests to Jobic that they eat first, before exploring. “We’re the king’s guests,” she says playfully; “let’s go drink a toast to him!” She takes a bottle of water and a goblet, and runs to the great statue. “To the king’s health!”

Chapter 16 – “The King! The King! ... Long Live the King!”

“You look very nice like that, commandante,” smiles Jobic.

“Ah, then I’ve risen in your estimation? When you first saw me, you thought of me as ‘the little cabin girl.’”

The boy, covered with confusion, mumbles a protest.

“You told me that yourself, remember?” teases Mauricette. “But I’m not mad at you, big dummy! Can’t you see I’m joking?”

“I didn’t know you, then, as I do now.”

With a laugh, Mauricette goes to the great bas-relief, singing the folk song Jobic taught her, about the king’s flight on horseback from the floodwaters: “Trip, trep, trip, trep!” She slaps the flank of the stone horse. It starts to tremble. The children leap back, frightened. The huge stone slab swivels outward ... revealing a hidden cavern. In the cavern they find two niches. Jobic pries them open.

“A treasure!”

There are huge jewels: rubies, emeralds, diamonds, tourquoises ... finer than any Mauricette has ever seen in a museum ... sparkling in the light of the lamp. “It’s like all the lighthouses of the whole coast!” says Jobic. In one niche are a king’s crown and scepter, in the other are a princess’s diadem, with jeweled necklaces and rings. “How pretty they are!” cries the girl, putting them on over her sailor suit. “I’m the princess!” Before Jobic can stop her, she thrusts the king’s scepter into his hand.

“I, your commandante, crown you king!” And she puts the crown on his head.

“What’s going on?” They turn. M. de Mornant and Jérôme Trottier have returned.

“I’m the princess!” cries Mauricette. “And I present to you the Little King of Ys!”

Chapter 17 – The Road Back

“Monsieur the King, would you have the kindness to help me with this knot?” asks a sailor, jokingly. They are boxing up the jewels and other artifacts, getting ready to stow them on the Periwinkle. Mauricette’s grandfather is enormously pleased to have his archeological theories confirmed. But Trottier has noticed that the air is getting heavy. He tests it, and finds that soon it will no longer be fit to breathe.

“We’ll come back,” M. de Mornant tells the sailors, who don’t want to leave yet. “If we don’t leave soon, we’ll be asphyxiated ... just as Saint-Galicher wanted to happen.”

“I’d like to twist his neck like a chicken’s!” mutters a sailor.

They all get back in their diving suits. They’re going to make the trip at night, to avoid being seen. Jobic suggests they go to his hut. Against her vigorous protests, M. de Mornant has Mauricette ride in the Periwinkle with Trottier.

They march out of Ys through the break in the city wall, followed by the Periwinkle. “North-northeast?” asks Trottier. “Yes,” replies M. de Mornant; “Jobic says we have about a five hours’ walk ahead of us.” They proceed, with a few small accidents: one sailor trips and breaks his lamp, another bruises his arm in a fall. Trottier steers the electric car skillfully, though once in a while the crew has to help push it up a slope.

After almost five hours Jobic warns them they’re near a nest of eels. “How can you recognize a place you’ve never seen before?” demands M. de Mornant. The boy laughs. “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve fished it ... The eels are dangerous, always ready to bite.” Up ahead, they see a score of eyes glistening in a cavern.

Suddenly the sailor whose lamp was broken trips, flailing about. That excites the eels, who attack ferociously. The other divers hurry to his aid, fighting with hatchet and dagger. For several minutes the battle rages. Several eels crash into Jobic, sending him sprawling. Immediately a swarm of the vicious beasts cover him. Mauricette screams. Bernadet rallies the sailors to his aid, hacking and chopping. More and more of the eels are killed, until presently the survivors flee. Jobic is bruised, but otherwise unharmed.

They take some of the dead eels with them, for dinner. And Jobic spears a lobster for Mauricette. The rocky seafloor gives way to sand. Jobic advises them to stop and turn off the Periwinkle’s lights; they’re in only 3 meters of water.

They emerge onto the beach, into the open air, near Jobic’s hut.

Chapter 18 – Little King Jobic’s Palace

It’s a foggy day. To make sure their presence isn’t discovered, they’ve effaced the tracks they left in the sand. While the others are resting in his hut, Jobic goes out and cautiously reconnoiters for news. He comes back and tells them of a poster he’s seen, announcing a memorial ceremony to be held at Morgat tomorrow morning, for the de Mornant expedition ... and presided over by Saint-Galicher himself.

“The hypocrite!”

Suddenly M. de Mornant gives a start. “What’s that?” He points to a strange pendative Jobic is wearing around his neck, that looks Egyptian.

“I’ve always had that. I was wearing it when Jan Callec found me.”

M. de Mornant looks at it, trembling. “It was I who gave it to you! In Upper Egypt, where I unearthed it! To you, son of my friend, of my student Jacques Rivarennes and his wife Hélène, lost at sea with you, more than a dozen years ago!”

Chapter 19 – Justice!

It’s morning. The fog has lifted, giving way to bright sunlight. Saint-Galicher and Treskovon give interviews to the press, while Captain Gerbier, weighed down by sorrow, keeps to the Enchanter Merlin in the harbor at Morgat where he’s joined by Mauricette’s father, the engineer Jean Thézenay, called back from an assignment in Russia. “In spite of everything ... I can’t believe they’re really dead. They had diving suits ...”

“But their last words were, that they couldn’t open the airlock,” replies Captain Gerbier. They go ashore.

The beach is crowded with people. On the speakers’ platform are government officials, as well as representatives of learned societies. Two torpedo boats fire a salute. The vice-admiral of the Navy says a few words. Then Saint-Galicher starts to harangue the crowd, boasting that he’s been made chairman of a committee to honor the fallen explorers, those illustrious but unfortunate discoverers of the city of Ys, whose glory will live forever ...

“There they are! ... Alive!”

Between the two torpedo boats, strange figures are emerging from the water, marching ashore in suits that resemble a medieval knight’s, sparkling in the sun. In the forefront is a tall figure with a staff. To either side is a shorter figure, bearing a jeweled crown and scepter and a princess’s regalia. Behind the ten individuals comes a strange submarine automobile.

“Mauricette!” cries M. Thézenay, recognizing her even before she can remove her helmet, and throwing his arms around her. The tall figure advances to the prefect and takes off his helmet. “Monsieur Prefect, I’m happy to turn over to you the royal insignia of King Gradlon and Princess Ahès, for the Museum of the Louvre ... We’re sorry to have kept you waiting; but we didn’t want to return without completing our mission ... confounding the machinations of criminals whom we now ask you to punish ...”

“They’re running away!” cries Jobic.

Saint-Galicher and Treskovon attempt to flee; but the crew drag and carry them back, to throw them at the feet of the astonished prefect.

Chapter 20 – Toward the Future

Six weeks later, M. de Mornant’s investigations have established that Jobic’s parents left Egypt on an English yacht, which foundered near Gibraltar; and that fifteen days later a ship of Holland registry, which apparently rescued the infant Jobic, disappeared in a storm. M. de Mornant offers to adopt the boy, as a grandson.

Jobic runs into his arms.

“Don’t thank me; thank your commandante, who insisted that we have you aboard, you and your Noah’s ark of a crew!”

The archaeologist sponsors a highly successful conference, giving the world the results of his research.

That evening, the sinking sun is flooding the bay of Douarnenez with gold and purple. At the edge of a cliff sit Mauricette and Jobic. The girl seems to know what the boy is thinking, and offers him her hand, affectionately. They gaze into each others’ eyes, not hearing Jérôme Trottier a few steps away tell M. de Mornant that several years in the future, he thinks there’s going to be ... a marriage.



The text of Le Petit Roi d’Ys published in book form shows numerous slight differences from the 1913 text in Mon Journal, consisting of minor changes in punctuation, paragraphing, and word choice; several of the chapter titles are also different. Since it was the serialized version the young Ayn Rand read, I have followed it in all cases. The biggest differences I’ve noticed are: in the book version, M. de Mornant offers 1000 francs for Mauricette’s purse rather than 100; and in the book version, there’s an extra paragraph in which the fleeing Saint-Galicher fires a couple of shots (which strike no one) as Jobic tackles him, while Bernadet punches Nalliers-Treskovon and knocks him down.

Later book editions say on the title page: “ouvrage couronné par l’Académie Française” (“work awarded a prize by the French Academy”).

The Periwinkle, in French, is le Bigorneau.

Teacher Michael West prepared a shortened, simplified French text for American schoolchildren, with the author’s permission and approval (Le Petit Roi d’Ys by Georges G.-Toudouze, University of Chicago Press, 1934, 144 pp).

In some versions of the Ys legend, the princess Dahut (or Ahès, in the Breton dialect) is the king’s daughter; in others, she’s his wife. Gradlon is usually supposed to be a Christian, while the princess was a worshipper of the Celtic gods. Though it’s asserted in a Wikipedia article on Ys that “several Roman roads actually lead into the sea” in that area, I’ve found no independent verification, nor any mention of real archeological evidence that Ys is anything other than a myth. For further references, see Appendix E.

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Here is the final part of my essay.


Bound volumes

Mon Journal has no volume numbers; but issue 1 of each year is dated the first week of October, and issue 52 of each year is dated the last week of September. And each run of 52 issues is self-contained: that is, the first serial begins in number 1 and the last serial ends in number 52.

Most bound editions of Mon Journal follow the magazine’s own schedule, October through September. But my 6 volume set, evidently bound by some subscriber’s local printer, runs by calendar year instead, January through December. (It’s the last 3 volumes of this set, July 1912 through December 1913, that I’ve donated to The Ayn Rand Archives.)

Though Ayn Rand began reading Mon Journal early in 1913 (or conceivably, late in 1912), I’m mentioning serials that appeared earlier, to give a better idea of the magazine. And since we don’t know when she stopped reading it, I’ve acquired some later copies, to have an idea of what else she might have read.


Three serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1906 – Sept. 1907:

Le Caillou Rouge
(“The Red Stone”), by Ivan D’Urgel

Oct. 6, 1906 – Feb. 2, 1907, 18 installments, in numbers 1 – 18

illustrated by Georges-Pierre Dutriac

A ruby ring disappears and is believed stolen, but is eventually found by a child playing in the sand.

Le Mystère de la Maison Grise
(“The Mystery of the Gray House”), adapted from the English of B. Sidney Woolf by A. Decker and A. Fabre

Feb. 9 – June 8, 18 installments, in numbers 19 – 36

illustrated by Harry Eliott

Three girls and a boy form a “League of Lost Children,” to find a sibling of one of them who was kidnapped sixteen years ago.

La Tirelire de Mona
(“Mona’s Money Box”), by B.A. Jeanroy

June 15 – Sept. 14, 14 installments, in numbers 37 – 50

illustrated by H. Vogel

A spoiled Scottish girl learns a lesson.


Three serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1908 – Sept. 1909:

La Troupe sans Rivale
(“The Troupe without Equal”), by A. Bailly

Oct. 3, 1908 – Jan. 30, 1909, 18 installments, in numbers 1-18

illustrated by Georges-Pierre Dutriac

Three young traveling performers seek the long-lost family of one of them.

M. Toto, premier Policier de France
(“Toto, Best Policeman in France”), by Henry de Gorsse

Feb. 6 – June 5, 18 installments, in numbers 19-36

illustrated by Charles Clerice

The 12 year old son of a count solves the mystery of a stolen necklace, to free a falsely accused maid.

Un Petit Comédien sous Louis XV
(“A Little Comedian under Louis XV”), by Jules Chancel

June 12 – Sept. 25, 16 installments, in numbers 37-52

illustrated by H. Vogel

A boy retrieves a casket given to him by his dying godfather, from a monkey who stole it, and delivers it to the king. It contains a plan for a national lottery that saves the finances of France.


Five serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1909 – Sept. 1910:

(three of them relatively short ones)

L’Oeuf Enchanté
(“The Enchanted Egg”), adapted from the English of Harold Avery by Alice Decker

Oct. 2, 1909 – Dec. 25, 13 installments, in numbers 1-13

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

Their uncle sends two children an egg, which mysteriously disappears; it turns out to be a rare egg from an extinct penguin.

Le Petit Maréchal
(“The Little Marshal”), by Ad. Villemard

Jan. 1 – Jan. 22, 4 installments, in numbers 14-17

illustrated by Léonce Burrett

In 1745 Maurice de Saxe makes an underage recruit a marshal for one week.

Cinq Semaines en Aéroplane
(“Five Weeks in an Airplane”), by Henry de Gorsse

Jan. 29 – July 30, 27 installments, in numbers 18-44

illustrated by Job (pseudonym of Jacques Onfroy de Bréville)

A middle-aged grocer stands to inherit 2 million francs, on condition that he make a trip to Lisbon by airplane.

Histoire d’un Méchant Ours
(“Story of a Bad Bear”), by Maurice Amoreau

Aug. 6 – Aug. 27, 4 installments, in numbers 45-48

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

A dancing bear escapes from a mountebank, to terrorize a village; but a boy overcomes his fear and kills the beast.

Le Petit Gondolier de Venise
(“The Little Gondolier of Venice”), by Pierre la Mazière

Sept. 3 - Sept. 24, 4 installments, in numbers 49-52

[illustrations are not signed]

A 10 year old boy retrieves a stolen statue, hidden beneath the waters.


Three serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1910 – Sept. 1911:

Un Monde de Petites Filles
(“A World of Girls”), translated from the English of L.T. Meade by Mme. J. Fix-Masseau

Oct. 1, 1910 – Feb. 4, 1911, 19 installments, in numbers 1-19

illustrated by Harry Eliott

“L. T. Meade 1854-1914 (Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith) was a prolific writer ... best known for her novels of girl adventure, especially her stories of girls at school. She established the girls’ school story with her enormously popular
A World of Girls
(1886).” (From

Le Chien de Serloc Kolmes
[sic], (“Serloc Kolmes’s Dog”), by J. Jacquin and A. Fabre

Feb. 11 – July 29, 25 installments, in numbers 20-44

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

Ten year old Lizzie, the daughter of “Serloc Kolmes, the celebrated detective,” adopts a dog her father brought home. They all go to Paris to track down a band of thieves, who cut through the armor plate of a jewelry store. When the gang kidnaps Lizzie, the detective is forced to give up the case; but the faithful dog, Punch, tracks her down and helps save her.

Blancs contre Noirs
(“Whites versus Blacks”), by Norbert Sevestre

Aug. 5 – Sept. 30, 9 installments, in numbers 45-53

[illustrations are not signed]

An English boy claims that a French girl’s dog is his. Their quarrel becomes a diplomatic incident, settled by an athletic competition between two teams of children, from their respective countries.


Three serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1911 – Sept. 1912:

Les Terribles Jumeaux!
(“The Terrible Twins!”), adapted from Wyatt by C. Heywood

Oct. 7, 1911 – Feb. 3, 1912, 18 installments, in numbers 1-18

illustrated by Job (Jacques Onfroy de Bréville)

When 11 year old Wilfrid is grounded for breaking two windows with a tennis ball in the same week, his twin sister Daisy takes his place so he can sneak out for one more match. But their plans go awry, and each has to impersonate the other in a series of comical misadventures.

Un Joyeux Loustic
(“A Merry Wag”), by Raphaël Lightone

Feb. 10 – June 1, 17 installments, in numbers 19-35

illustrated by H. Vogel

His avaricious neighbors try to cheat 14 year old Herbelin of the money they owe him for chores; but the clever boy turns the table on them. He becomes a traveling peddler to earn money for his widowed mother; and eventually finds a long-lost uncle in the army.

Les Petits Naufragés du Titanic
(“The Little Castaways of the Titanic”), by J. Jacquin and A. Fabre

June 8 – Sept. 28, 17 installments, in numbers 36-52

illustrated by Georges-Pierre Dutriac

A brother and sister, 10 year old Lucien and 7 year old Louloute, escape the sinking Titanic in a rowboat and, aided by Graindorze, a young kitchen helper, reach Labrador safely. The girl befriends a wounded wolf, Barnabé. They live among the Indians, but eventually go to Quebec (and later, France) to gain their rightful inheritance of part of a steamship company, thwarting the plans of a swindler who wanted them declared dead.


Four serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1912 – Sept. 1913:

La Marraine de Carlino
(“Carlino’s Godmother”), by B.-A. Jeanroy

Oct. 5, 1912 – Jan. 18, 1913, 16 installments, in numbers 1-16

illustrated by Georges-Pierre Dutriac

Le Petit Roi d’Ys
(“The Little King of Ys,”), by Georges G.-Toudouze

Jan. 25 – July 5, 24 installments, in numbers 17-40

illustrated by Henri Morin

Herbelin contre Plock
(“Herbelin versus Plock”), by Raphaël Lightone,

April 26 – Sept. 6, 20 installments, in numbers 30-49

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

Par Amour Filial
(“Through a Daughter’s Love”), by Jacques Freneuse

July 12 – Sept. 27, 12 installments, in numbers 41-52

illustrated by Edouard Zier

During the 1794 naval war between the French Republic and England, four crew members of a small vessel, disguised as a fishing boat, witness a heroic battle and the sinking of the
. They then continue sailing north toward England, on a secret mission. After the English sink their boat and they are rescued by Captain Roland Corvin, a French privateer, it’s revealed that the cabin boy, “Petit-Louis,” is actually Régine, daughter of Bernard de Livonec, a French Republican captain who’s been captured by the English. She’s left her estate in the war-torn Vendée, along with her overseer, her gardener, and a French sailor, to rescue her father. They reach England. Disguised as an orange seller, she does succeed in rescuing her father with the help of the privateer, to whom she becomes engaged.


Three serials appeared in Mon Journal for the year Oct. 1913 – Sept. 1914:

La Main Rouge
(“The Red Hand”), by Norbert Sevestre

Oct.4, 1913 – Mar. 7, 1914, 23 installments, in numbers 1-23

illustrated by Harry Eliott

An American steel magnate, Mr. Hughes Simmons, is pitted against a Mafia-like criminal organization that has already killed his wife in a train wreck and now kidnaps his 8 year old daughter Flora, carrying her off in an airplane. The industrialist hires detectives, who track the criminals to a villa in France for a final confrontation.

Le Yacht Mystérieux
(“The Mysterious Yacht”), by H. de Gorsse

Mar. 14 – Aug. 22, 24 installments, in numbers 24-47

illustrated by R. de la Nézière

A mysterious, menacing stranger debarks from a yacht, to confide a young girl to a fisherman and his family, on the south coast of France. She’s eventually revealed to be the kidnapped daughter, Nadia, of Serge Ipanoff, a Russian prince. The kidnapper, the prince’s brother Boris, reforms after his own daughter recovers from an illness; saves their lives in a storm; and blows up the old castle in whose cellar he’s been counterfeiting money.

Sur l’Écran du Cinéma
(“On the Cinema Screen”), by J. Jacquin and A. Fabre

Aug. 29 – Sept. 26, 5 installments, in numbers 48-52

illustrated by H. Vogel

A young runaway, Jean Morel, falls in with a movie company filming on location at a seaside village, and offers them a scenario he’s written, “The Smuggler’s Son.” The company films it, not knowing he based it on his own life. When the boy’s father chances to see the film, he’s stricken with remorse, gives up smuggling, and seeks out his son for a reconciliation.

Copyright © 2006 by Bill Bucko

All rights reserved

I have omitted the Appendices. Appendix A refers to an extensive list of French children’s magazines at , which is largely derived from Alain Fourment: Histoire de la presse des jeunes et des journaux d'enfants 1768-1988.

NOTE: I have scanned more than 1500 pages from both of Ayn Rand’s French children’s magazines, and will make the images available to the public on CD a few weeks from now.

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Thank you, Bill, for your persevering effort. So far I've read only the first two stories, and they are wonderfully imaginative and inticately-plotted. It's nice to know that they were sources of delight and interest to Ayn Rand when she was a girl. Just the thought of it sets off a kind of smiling glow in my mind.

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Betsy Speicher has just posted several beautiful illustrations from Mon Journal in her January CYBERNET, showing:

a two-page spread of the magazine:

along with montages of artwork from each of the stories:

the Orphan Story, at

the Detective Story, at

the Submarine Story, at .

Thanks, Betsy!

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I'm new to this forum, but not to literary research, and I want to congratulate you on your dedication and your thoroughness. As an independent scholar with a four-volume history (now under revision) of sf to my credit, I know good research and good presentation of same when I see it.

I've been working with Shoshana Milgram for a couple of years now, since she came across an old e-mail of mine to the ARI, independently identifying Stephen Vincent Benet’s "The Place of the Gods" as the 1937 story that inspired Ayn Rand to write ANTHEM (See her "ANTHEM in the Context of Related Literary Works" in ESSAYS ON AYN RAND’S ANTHEM.)

This past spring, she had set me on the track of the submarine story, with the same description you had from the recollections of Miss Rand. By chance, I was able to point her to LE PETIT ROI D’YS -- a lucky guess based on a brief description of the novel in Jean-Marc Officier and Randy Lofficier’s FRENCH SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, HORROR AND PULP FICTION (2000). They said PETIT ROI had come out in 1913 and "featured a submarine tank looking for the legendary city." The year and the subject seemed right, but without having access to the book I couldn’t confirm the identification. And you found the serial as well as the book edition – I didn’t have a clue about MON JOURNAL.

It was a matter of serendipity for me. I’d heard of Toudouze, but wouldn’t have known there was anything particularly distinctive about him without you and Shoshana. Nearly all sf and adventure fiction in those days was considered boys' fiction, and women generally got short shrift. PETIT ROI, with its characterization of Mauricette as a girl who won’t settle for just standing there and looking pretty, was a pleasant surprise, and I gather that she was far from the last of Toudouze’s plucky heroines. I’ll have to give him due credit in the new version of IMAGINATION AND EVOLUTION.

Have you considered shopping a translation of PETIT ROI? From your synopsis and quotes, I think it would be a fun read, and not only for Objectivists. Perhaps a university or specialty press – the kind that have been doing new translations of Jules Verne (You may have read that the standard translations are wretched.) – would be interested. There is a gold mine of other Vernean sf out there – notably Paul D’Ivoi’s voyages excentriques, which are still read in France today and have even inspired spin-off comics – that might find an audience here.

From your essay on finding and translating THE MYSTERIOUS VALLEY as well as your account here of PETIT ROI and the other MON JOURNAL serials, I know you could do the job right. Why not combine fun and profit?

--John J. Pierce

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Thank you. It certainly was an exciting search! Every book that arrived, last summer, brought a new discovery and a new thrill. Because I bought my own copies (rather than rely on interlibrary loan) I beat Shoshana Milgram in positively identifying the Submarine Story by 5 days. AND had the added thrill of discovering the Detective and Orphan Stories!

I took great pains to make my plot summaries as thorough and accurate as I could, preserving the color and charm of the originals. It's unlikely that I'll have time to translate the full stories anytime soon; so I wanted the plot summaries to be available for those who don't read French (or don't have time to read the originals).

I might possibly translate "Herbelin contre Plock," a couple of years from now; its vocabulary is simple and straightforward. But I'm afraid there's almost no chance I'll translate the Submarine Story, "Le Petit Roi d'Ys": it has a huge vocabulary (including dialect from a couple of different French regions), and would take at least a year to do. I simply can't spare the time from my own writing. However, in 1934 the University of Chicago published a simplified and abridged French text for American students, with the permission and approval of the author; and if that has fallen into public domain I could translate it fairly quickly and easily.

Both French children's magazines the young Ayn Rand subscribed to featured girls prominently in their stories (often the central characters were brother and sister) -- though Mauricette does stand out as the most self-reliant of them all. The closest runner-up would be Simone, who shoots a charging tiger in the 1915 serial "Loup-Blanc" ("White Wolf"). (My essay on Ayn Rand's second French children's magazine, the one with "La vallee mysterieuse," will appear a few weeks from now.)

I ordered a couple of books from Toudouze's "Cinq jeunes filles" (Five Young Girls) series, but was disappointed to find they weren't children's stories; they're about sophisticated, cigarette-smoking teenagers sailing their boat the "Arethusa" in the 1950s.

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According to, this movie was based on a story by Toudouse -- presumably UNE FEMME PARMI LES LOUPS. The description comes from a New York Times database. I don't have an idea whether the novie is still available, but it sounds intriguing. --J.J.P.


a k a Wanted Men



This grim and gripping British melodrama was originally released in 1931 under the title Wolves. The scene is a Labrador whaling camp, where everyone is a fugitive from justice, and not a few are murderers. Dorothy Gish plays Leila, an unconscious survivor of a shipwreck who drifts into the camp in a rowboat. She is rescued by the lust-driven whalers, who then draw lots to see who will "win" her. Stacking the deck, a big lout named Job (Charles Laughton) claims Leila as his, but it turns out that he's an honorable sort who wishes only to rescue the girl from the other men. Wolves didn't make it to the U.S. until 1936, by which time its title was changed to Wanted Men and its running time was hacked down to 35 minutes by the censors. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide.

cast for 'Wolves'

Charles Laughton - Capt. Job

Dorothy Gish - Leila McDonald

Malcolm Keen - Pierre

Jack Osterman - Hank

Arthur Margetson - Mark

Franklyn Bellamy - Pablo

Griffith Humphreys - Semyon

Andrews Englemann - Pfeiffer

Betty Bolton - Naroutcha

   production credits

Roy Overbaugh - Cinematographer

Albert de Courville - Director

Herbert Wilcox - Producer

Georges Toudouze - Play Author

Reginald Berkeley - Screenwriter


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The last of the precious volumes are now on their way to the Ayn Rand Archives!

And you may now enjoy ALL the results of my 1 1/2 years' work on this project: my 2 CD set, Ayn Rand's French Children's Magazines, is now on sale! See my announcement under Capitalist Corner:

The CDs include essays, plot summaries, a spreadsheet of all known works by Maurice Champagne, 4,000 large, full-color 150 dpi scans, and more!

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