“Master,” I would cry as I moved respectfully beneath him, “what is it you seek today?” and always the answer, clear and without doubt, from above: “The old secret, my son!” The immense egotism of youth forced me on my own path, but (cry of the human always!) had I known--if I had known--I would many times have bartered my poor laurels for the privilege, such as Tinsley and Herrera possess, of having aided him in his monumental researches. It is to the filial piety of Victor Lavalle that we owe the two volumes consecrated to the ground-life of his father, so full of the holy intimacies of the domestic hearth. Once returned from the abysms of the utter North to that little house upon the outskirts of Meudon, it was not the philosopher, the daring observer, the man of iron energy that imposed himself on his family, but a fat and even plaintive jester, a farceur incarnate and kindly, the co-equal of his children, and, it must be written, not seldom the comic despair of Madame Lavalle, who, as she writes five years after the marriage, to her venerable mother, found “in this unequalled intellect whose name I bear the abandon of a large and very untidy boy.” Here is her letter: “Xavier returned from I do not know where at midnight, absorbed in calculations on the eternal question of his Aurora--la belle Aurore, whom I begin to hate. Instead of anchoring,--I had set out the guide-light above our roof, so he had but to descend and fasten the plane--he wandered, profoundly distracted, above the town with his anchor down! Figure to yourself, dear mother, it is the roof of the mayor's house that the grapnel first engages! That I do not regret, for the mayor's wife and I are not sympathetic; but when Xavier uproots my pet araucaria and bears it across the garden into the conservatory I protest at the top of my voice.