A woman boarded a train at a small station between Marseilles and Arles. She had a Spanish gypsy appearance and moved with a noticeable sway.
She sat alone by the window and began to eat roasted pistachios, seemingly oblivious to the other passengers. The carriage was filled with common people, many of whom couldn't help but stare at her.
Her eyes, long, golden-brown and half-covered by swarthily brown lids, somehow gazed inside themselves – with a dull, primitive lassitude.
Her face was dark and delicate, with a primitive beauty. Her eyes were a golden-brown and seemed to gaze inward with a dull lassitude. Her black hair was parted in the middle and fell in curls onto her forehead, with long silver earrings gleaming against her neck. She wore a faded light-blue shawl on her shoulders and her hands moved quickly and skillfully as she shelled the pistachios.
Her hands, wiry, Indian, with mummy-coloured fingers and lighter nails, kept on shelling more and more pistachios with simian quickness and dexterity.
After finishing her snack, she reclined against the back of the bench, her black skirt emphasizing her slender waist and firm buttocks. Her foot, unstockinged and tanned, was adorned with a black cloth slipper laced with blue and red ribbons. She disembarked the train outside Arles.
A fellow passenger, a robust Provençal man with dark, ruddy skin, watched her leave with a sad expression.
“C’est une Camarguaise,” said my neighbour – for some reason very sadly, and following her with his eyes – a Provençal as mighty as an ox, with dark, ruddy skin covered in blood vessels.
He identified her as a Camarguaise, a native of the Camargue region in southern France. The event took place on the 23rd of May, 1944.