Louis Châgniot, a city dweller today, had a bad dream: an old house is slowly collapsing, taking its time, and he witnesses this agonizing disaster. Awakened in a sweat, Louis then recognizes this house as being the one that his family, in Burgundy, held for several generations.
He left it as a child 45 years ago and had never returned. His wife doesn't like the countryside and prefers skiing or “the coast” in summer: “I want to live my life. We are no longer in the Middle Ages!” So he forgot about the old family stones.
This dream upsets him because it is surely a premonition. As it happens, Madame Châgniot had left to go skiing with their daughter. Louis rushes to his son's room and announces their immediate departure because the house needs them.
The sight overwhelms him: his son, nicknamed Loulou, is sprawled out, his eyes glassy, an empty syringe beside him. Loulou, a sociology student (which doesn't help), carries his drug addiction with him.
Whatever, we have to go. The arrival in his native village amazes and delights the elders, Balthazar in particular. He takes the “drug addict” under his wing and initiates him into the secrets of the land. In particular, he shows him his clandestine hives, “that do not concern the State,” which will fascinate Loulou, whom Balthazar wants to make his successor as “master of the bees.”
This little novel is the last of Henri Vincenot. He had planned a sequel but didn't have time. As in “The Pope of the Snails,” we find there the verve and the talent of this extraordinary writer whose work will endure. He sings of traditions, common sense, and, of course, Burgundy with impeccable words.