One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon,

14 Dec

One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon,

One was better off at the Piscines Chateau-Landon, Rouvetor du boulevard de la Gare. They were indoor pools withroofs, on land and open year-round. Their water was suppliedby the

 

condensation from steam engines from nearby factoriesand so was cleaner and warmer. But these pools were still abit dingy and tended to be crowded. “There was so much goband spit

 

floating in the water, I thought I was swimmingthrough jellyfish,” chuckled Mamaji.

The Piscines Hébert, Ledru-Rollin and Butte-aux-Cailles werebright, modern, spacious pools fed

 

by artesian wells. They setthe standard for excellence in municipal swimming pools. Therewas the Piscine des Tourelles, of course, the city’s other greatOlympic pool, inaugurated during the

 

second Paris games, of1924. And there were still others, many of them.

But no swimming pool in Mamaji’s eyes matched the gloryof the Piscine Molitor. It was the

crowning aquatic glory ofParis, indeed, of the entire civilized world.
“It was a pool the gods would have delighted to swim in.

That was as a wolf, though. He had never eaten the meat of men with human teeth. He would not grudge his pack their feast, however. The wolves were as famished as he was, gaunt and

 

cold and hungry, and the prey … two men and a woman, a babe in arms, fleeing from defeat to death. They would have perished soon in any case, from exposure or starvation. This way was

 

better, quicker. A mercy.

“A mercy,” he said aloud. His throat was raw, but it felt good to hear a human voice, even his own. The air smelled of mold and damp, the ground was cold and hard, and his fire was giving

 

off more smoke than heat. He moved as close to the flames as he dared, coughing and shivering by turns, his side throbbing where his wound had opened. Blood had soaked his

 

breeches to the

knee and dried

into a hard

brown crust.

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