“Ah, my Despereaux!”

Despereaux’s mother, Antoinette, continues to be the only one in the family to express the least bit of concern about his fate.

Antoinette pushed her way through the crowd. “He is my son,” she said. “I want to have a last word with my son.”

Despereaux looked at his mother. He concentrated on standing before her without trembling. He concentrated on not being a disappointment.

I would say that’s a foregone conclusion at this point, since he’s already run afoul of the law, but who knows? She might just as well be a little proud that he made a name for himself…but she doesn’t really tell him one way or the other.

“The rats will eat him,” said the second hood.

“Ah,” said Antoinette. “Mon dieu!”

At the thought of being eaten by rats, Despereaux forgot about being brave. He forgot about not being a disappointment. He felt himself heading into another faint. But his mother, who had an excellent sense of dramatic timing, beat him to it; she executed a beautiful, flawless swoon, landing right at Despereaux’s feet.

I get the sneaking suspicion that she just wants to play up the drama of having her son sent to the dungeon for all it’s worth…

And Despereaux was led away.

At the last moment, Antoinette came out of her faint and shouted one word to her child.

That word, reader, was adieu.


“Farewell” is not the word that you would like to hear from your mother as you are being led to a dungeon by two oversize mice in black hoods.

Words that you would like to hear are “Take me instead. I will go to the dungeon in my son’s place.” There is a great deal of comfort in those words.

But, again, Despereaux’s parents never lifted a finger to help him before, so why should they start now?

But, reader, there is no comfort in the word “farewell,” even if you say it in French. “Farewell” is a word that, in any language, is full of sorrow. It is a word that promises absolutely nothing.

Until next time…

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