Misery Will Never End

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Misery Will Never End
                                      Jean Sulivan

                     e was buried in January, in an icy fog, at
                     eight in the morning—about the time
                     when they shoot those condemned to
                       There were quite a few people
                     there—from society, from his former
  world—who followed the hearse while talking of busi-
  ness. The hearse of a poor man, badly chipped, rattled
  over the gleaming cobblestones.
    Imagine that long journey to the cemetery at eight
  o’clock, in the fog. Just behind the society people fol-
  lowed a group in rags, beggars, people out of work, like
  the condemned shown in old pictures. Satchels on their
  shoulders, bundles badly tied up in greasy paper under
  their arms. People who pick up the garbage. There was
  a muscular man with a beard, a sack full of holes on his
  shoulder. Out of the holes fell some dirty rags and the lid
  of an old enamel coffee pot.
                                                                                                                Commonweal . December 18, 2009

    The society folk, vaguely upset, even slightly scandal-
  ized, would turn around from time to time to see if the
  others were still following. Hardly an ordinary burial.

  Jean	Sulivan was the pen name of Joseph Lemarchand, who was a priest, teacher, and journalist,
  as well as the author of thirty books, including the collection	Bonheur des rebelles (Gallimard,
  1968), which includes the story “La misère ne finira jamais” (“Misery will never end”). The story
  has been adapted and translated by Joseph	Cunneen, a longtime Commonweal contributor.

                                           e had been a magistrate his whole life. A judge from top to bottom—a man com-
                                           pletely identified with his function. A dignified attitude at every moment, silent
                                           and austere, with a hatchet face, a pointed gray goatee, and gray hair cut short.
                                 Rigid, a straightforward glance, slightly halting gestures.
                                    A life with no story. He did his job, said what had to be said, and applied the law as anyone
                                 else might have. Never emotional, never paradoxical. Did he even see the faces of the accused
                                 who stood before him? Sometimes he dozed off while the lawyers went on shouting.
                                    Five minutes’ walk, always with an umbrella on his arm, in every kind of weather. Streetcar.
                                 The court house. Streetcar. Five minutes’ walk the other way with his umbrella, without
                                 looking either right or left. Morning, noon, and night. Home. Meals in silence. The case
                                 files. Sunday afternoon a game of bridge. A month’s vacation in August at Saint-Aulaire,
                                 fishing with his lawyer son. By the beginning of September the judge was back at it, with
                                 his resolute manner, his neat little beard, taking hurried little steps, returning to his habits
                                 as to a fortress.
                                    But one day, retirement came: the judge no longer judged. It was shortly after this that
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Description: No one cared. [...] the day he announced to his wife: We need a maid. [...] everyone went around murmuring, chattering, whispering - that all this was admirable, of course, but that there were things one didn't do. [...] it was a mistake to bring poor people into one's home before one had even seen them.
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