the record of my life begins with my being found in a basket by the side of the high road in the province of d------, on a cold sunny morning a little after the beginning of this unfortunate century. as it is unlikely that those who placed me there expended themselves by traveling any great distance to do so, it seems that i was probably born in the said province. i have never found occasion to doubt this most reasonable assumption, and i suggest that you, dear reader, accept it also.
mademoiselle clotilde de t----------- de v-------- did everything at a most (100) leisurely pace, and liked her journeys through life and down the roads of the kingdom to be slow and smooth, so when the coachman spotted the bundle containing myself nestled between a rock and a flower and brought the coach from a trot to a halt she simply yawned and settled back in the coach, without even enquiring what he was about.
reader, i believe i have already indicated to you my distinct preference for simple and pious persons, and i have no doubt that this preference was sealed on that distant morning when charles the coachman - the sole cause of (200) my continued existence, the most pious creature i would ever know and the first person i encountered in this life - after my anonymous mother and perhaps an equally anonymous midwife - picked me up and brushed the dew off my still blind face.
did he say a prayer over me? probably not. curiously enough, despite his piety and his apparently limitless knowledge of the saints and angels and prophets and such, i do not recall that i ever actually saw or heard him pray. but i digress.
charles picked me up and brought me over to the coach and handed (300) me to adolphe, a "footman" or generally underfoot servant of mademoiselle, a lazy worthless rascal of a type she was all too complaisant about, and who on this morning was accompaniying mademoiselle and her maidservant and charles to - well, that is of no interest to you, dear reader, so i refrain from the description.
knowing adolphe as i later would, i have no doubt he was a veritable fountain of witticisms and droll remarks about my sudden appearance. but as he was always somewhat cowed by charles and did his bidding - more promptly than he did mademoiselle's or charlotte (400) the housekeeper's or jean-pierre the butler's - all of whom i will describe in good time - i do not doubt he handled me gently enough as the coach made it's easy way back to the chateau.