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November 23 , 2009

The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont


Early life – Leaving home – I meet Jensen – I go pearling – Daily

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I was born in or near Paris, in the year 1844.  My father was a

fairly prosperous man of business – a general merchant, to be

precise, who dealt largely in shoes; but when I was about ten years

old, my mother, in consequence of certain domestic differences,

took me to live with her at Montreux, and other places in

Switzerland, where I was educated.  I visited many of the towns

near Montreux, including Lausanne, Geneva, Neufchatel, &c.  The

whole of the time I was at school I mixed extensively with English

boys on account of their language and sports, both of which

attracted me.


Boys soon begin to display their bent, and mine, curiously enough,

was in the direction of geology.  I was constantly bringing home

pieces of stone and minerals picked up in the streets and on the

mountains, and asking questions about their origin and history.  My

dear mother encouraged me in this, and later on I frequently went

to Freiburg, in the Black Forest, to get a practical insight into

smelting.  When I was about nineteen, however, a message arrived

from my father, directing me to return to France and report myself

as a conscript; but against this my mother resolutely set her face.

I fancy my father wanted me to take up the army as a career, but in

deference to my mother's wishes I remained with her in Switzerland

for some time longer.  She and I had many talks about my future,

and she at length advised me to take a trip to the East, and see

what the experience of travel would do for me.  Neither of us had

any definite project in view, but at length my mother gave me about

7000 francs and I set out for Cairo, intending eventually to visit

and make myself acquainted with the French possessions in the Far

East.  My idea was to visit such places as Tonkin, Cochin-China,

Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, &c.  My mother was of the

opinion that if I saw a bit of the world in this way I would be

more inclined to settle down at home with her at the end of my

wanderings.  The primary cause of my going away was a little love

episode.  Whilst at Montreux I fell in love with a charming young

lady at a boarding-school near my home.  She was the daughter of

some high personage in the court of Russia – but exactly what

position he held I cannot say.  My mother was quite charmed with

the young lady and viewed our attachment with delight.  But when my

father heard of the matter he raised a decided objection to it, and

ordered me to return to France and join the army.  He had, as I

have previously intimated, made his own plans for my future, even

to the point of deciding upon a future wife for me, as is customary

in France; but I resolutely declined to conform to his wishes in

this respect, and my mother quite sided with me.  I never quite

knew how he got to hear of my love affair, but I conclude that my

mother must have mentioned it to him.  I only stayed a few days in

the wonderful metropolis of Egypt; its noises, its cosmopolitanism,

its crowds – these, and many other considerations, drove me from the

city, and I set out for Singapore.

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