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And these she had studied and mused upon with emotion the first time she went there, for surely none could read them without being deeply touched. "A la memoire de John William Falle, âgé de 37 ans, et de son fils William Slowley Falle, âgé de 17 ans, Fils et petit fils de William Falle, Ecr. de Beau Regard, Sercq. Qui furent noyés 20'eme jour d'Avril 1903, durant la traversée de Guernsey a Sercq.
The April fish, the "poisson d'Avril," is the polite French term for what we call an "April fool." But why a fish is introduced in this connection I am unable to say. The custom of sending people on fool's errands on the First of April is probably due to the change of the calendar in France in 1564; but there is a Hindoo feast on March 31st, when similar jokes are perpetrated.
I also sang one of Massenet's, "Poeme d'Avril." They asked for "Beware!" which I sang. What did he mean? I had no idea. "The one you sang the other night," said the Emperor. What do you think he meant? Well, he meant "Shoo-fly!" I sang it, as he desired. I don't believe he knows yet what its true meaning is. There is an end to all things, and our concert came to an end at last.
L. de (Lillie de) Hegermann-Lindencrone - In the Courts of Memory, 1858 1875; from Contemporary Letters
But although the coincidence was ominous, they could not truly be said to have caught a "poisson d'avril," for there was doubtless a design against the steamer, which had on board a large amount of treasure, and some of these Chinamen were afterwards tried and condemned at Hong-Kong, for the attempt. Want of unanimity or some other cause having defeated their purpose.
The theft having been discovered, and the lady accused of having taken the watch, she endeavored to pass off the affair as un poisson d'Avril. Having denied that the watch was in her possession, her rooms were searched, and the missing article found upon a chimney-piece. When shown the watch the thief coolly replied: "Yes; I think I have made the messenger a fine poisson d'Avril."
When at last it was learned that she had told them the truth, it was too late, the Duke and his wife having made good their escape. In France, the person who is April-fooled is called poisson d'Avril. Upon a certain occasion a French lady stole a watch from a friend on the First of April.
Sous son mantelet elle cache une aile, Son bonnet charmant est a peine eclos. J'errais avec toi, pressant ton bras souple. Les passants crovaient que l'amour charme Avait marie, dans notre heureux couple, Le doux mois d'avril au beau mois de mai. Nous vivions caches, contents, porte close, Devorant l'amour, bon fruit defendu, Ma bouche n'avait pas dit une chose Que deja ton coeur avait repondu.
Either as a Scotchman he deplored the unseemly frivolity, or he thought the French could not appreciate a poisson d'Avril, and so racked his brains for a serious reason to justify the I.G.'s objection. It so happened that the very day this message went to Paris, Sir Harry Parkes's funeral took place.