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Meet du Maurier

He was as tall and austere as de Gaulle and acted the same. Yet, once they were done with a lesson, du Maurier became an endearing uncle who would insist on buying Axel a sherry to cap the afternoon. Then he would sidle to the bar and capture any unsuspecting patron with stories of the Free French. He seemed quite sure he single-handedly defeated the Vichy and the Nazis. 

The professor would halt a lesson for the slightest mispronunciation. “My son, I’ve determined you will never master French, but I do applaud your effort. I feel I’m fighting a losing battle against your amies, Quebecois. They are corrupting you. At the very least, insist they speak only English.”

One day, he asked Axel, “Do you love Paris?”

“Very much.”

“Do you love her like she’s your lover?”

Axel smiled, not quite knowing how to answer. “Professor, I’ve never been in love.”

“Then let Paris be your first,” he smiled. “Do you want to be an old man like me one day and recall Paris with the same love you feel right now, right here?”