Meeting at the railway. Eugene Louis Deschanel.

A brilliant speaker and extraordinary fascinating politician, sixty years old Louis Deschanel became the president of France in January of 1920, having won a victory over Georges Clemenceau – some of the parliament had serious worries that old Clemenceau was about to fall into senile marasmus. Besides that Dechanel was also famous for the fact that his presidential term lasted for about seven months (that original record was beaten only by Casimir-Perier who held at Champs-Elysees for thirteen days less). However, Clemenceau was considered to lose his reason in the nearest future, but as for Dechanel, strange things started to happen around him that very year.

The problems of the new French president probably had source in his mental misbalance, although newspapers claimed that his strange behavior was the result of intrigues of the enemies of France. Probably, the intrigues took place indeed, but they could hardly explain the accident that happened in spring of 1920.

At the dawn of 24th May a certain person, who was hurt and wore dirty and torn pajamas scared a switchman Andre Arbor to death. Having finished switching, Arbor heard a strange noise in the muted light of dawn and, trembling with fear, saw a dark figure, pulling hands towards him. The only thing that calmed down the switcher was the polite speech he heard:

  • Good morning, Monsieur! – said the stranger sadly. – I fell out of the widow of my train undeliberately and I’m the president of France.

It was natural that Arbor didn’t believe anything from the stranger’s words, though he had reasons for that. First of all, not every citizen of France knew the president by sight – there was no television yet. And the second thing, it was rather unnatural for an ordinary person to meet the president not at Champs-Elysees in a grand cortege, but at dirty railway. So, Arbor considered the stranger to be either a crazy person or a drunkard and led him to the orderly officer at the station, but even the official didn’t recognize the leader of the government in the ragged disguise. The truth was revealed only at the police station, where Dechanel was conducted by the station stuff.

It turned out that the president of France really disappeared from his closed compartment of the train, and that seriously shocked the security and the escort of the leader. The thing actually happened was: the president was on his way to one important meeting and he decided to have a good sleep in the train, so he took a soporific pill. At dawn he woke up because of stuffiness and opened the window with a rough movement, having lost balance, he fell out of the compartment. The fact that the train slowed down before a turning point saved Dechanel’s life: he had only a few bruises.

Unfortunately, such kind of accidents started to happen with Dechanel more and more often. The last drop was the event when the president suddenly got into a lake in his costume and scared all the ducks out of it, later he announced that he didn’t remember that. After the accident everybody forgot about intrigues of enemies and convinced the president to go into retirement because of his health state.