In the center of the Arrondissement lies the Jardin des Gens. While there are many parks available to the citizenry, this is the grandest one. In the summer, there are concerts and theater, both highly attended. The Crescent Lake is available for boating, though never on a new moon. Springtime is filled flowers in bloom and winter makes the trees glisten with clear ice, making the entire place feel like a frosted castle.
Even now, in the autumn, when the leaves turn to fiery red and orange, the paths and plazas of this woodland are filled with those who need a respite. It is said that a walk through the Jardin des Gens will refill your soul when troubles have drained your spirit. No natural philosopher has either proven or attempted to disprove this, it is just accepted as fact by most people.
While there are many wonders to take in, none are as impressive as the Cure-dent de Déant. It stands three hundred meters high and its branches stretch out far enough to cover Madame Bisset-Huger’s symphony as well all those who come to see her semi-annual concerts. Other times, outdoor banquets
Now it is autumn and the broad leaves have turned a bright gold and while the wind is a bit too brisk to sit beneath this mighty tree, people will often take a little extra time to walk past it, it is always worth seeing and as it turned out today, especially so.
It was midmorning, about ten thirty, as most would later report. A group of school children were walking past, guided by their shepherdess were passing by the Cure-dent de Déant. Slowly of course, it is not a sight that you just casually glance at, and school children will take any chance to dawdle. Think back on your youth and you will agree.
The shepherdess, Mademoiselle Fourneau, had brought her class by the great tree on the way to the Museum of for Natural Oddities for two reasons. One, as a treat for her charges, and second, so she might smoke a cigarette without criticism from the headmistress who thought it an unseemly habit.
She lit her smoke and closed her eyes as inhaled deeply. It was then that she thought she heard something. It seemed distant but loud, like an echo of a foghorn, but it was something else. Something mechanical? That thought was chased away by the cheers of her children.
“Quiet please! We are not beasts, we are people!” she said automatically. It was a phrase used by the shepherdess and shepherds at the insistence of the headmistress.
“Mademoiselle, look!” shouted one of the children, who clearly was unconcerned with etiquette at that moment.
With cigarette still in her lips, she looked up. The Cure-dent de Déant was is bloom. Springtime bloom. The leaves were no longer autumnal gold, but a pale chartreuse. Not only that but they were growing before her eyes, transforming into the dark sage of high summer. A rumbling was heard, and the ground around the trunk began to buckle as the tree began to rise.
“Children, to me!” the shepherdess called as she herded her charges away from the chaos.
The air was filled golden leaves, many more that any tree, even the Cure-dent de Déant should produce in a single season. Benches were flung into the air, a roast nut cart ended up hanging from a new but sturdy branch, and if Madame Bisset-Huger’s symphony were to perform her again, she could add more musicians as well as perhaps triple the audience.
Gendarmes arrived soon there after and set up a barrier to prevent gawkers even though it was easily seen from a great distance. Of course, it drew many to see what had happened. The members of the fourth estate arrived just after the gendarmes to spoke to all who would speak to them, which was everyone. Even Mademoiselle Fourneau and her class were interviewed and a daguerreotype of them appeared in the next edition of the Herald Trompette.
Botanical specialists from several universities came to investigate but all they would say to the press was “We will make a statement when we have something to say.” This did not go over well and produced headlines like, “Botanists Baffled!” and “Scholars Stumped!”
Later than night, long after Mademoiselle Fourneau had brought her students back, classes were canceled due to high spirits, and she had shared a bottle of wine with her beau over a meal in a small, romantic bistro, and shared more at his rooms, that she remember that distant sound. Not a foghorn at all but the tick of a clock.