Thursday, June 4, 2009

Remember the Roses... (I)

The other day I was reading a post titled, "The Magnolias Still Bloom – Chapter VIII" by Sumit of huesofinsanity fame... this also happened to be the last chapter of this haunting love story. Let me quote a few lines.....

I look at the silver ring on my little finger – the piggy that went "wee wee wee" – and stroke the warm metal, something that's become a habit. It was her ring, the one that she gave me before she died.

"I want you to wear this to remember me by… " she had said, gently placing the strip of silver onto my little finger (the only one that the ring would fit on).

The last paragraph went like this: And then, all I can do is walk to the cemetery where she lies buried, along with a piece of my heart. A piece that was buried along with the love of my life, on that fateful day, twelve years ago. A piece that lies beneath the marble tombstone, carved in the shape of a magnolia.

The tombstone is inscribed with the a little verse that she wrote:

Shirley (1972 – 1997)

I might not be with you,
lying deep in nature's womb,
but think of me and smile,
whenever the magnolias bloom.

This story transported me back in time... and my thoughts took me back to my childhood, and to another story I had read a long time ago... as a schoolgirl. It is a story that has a mysterious and haunting quality about it and even as the years passed, the story never left me. I am referring to: "Remember the Roses". This was the last among the 16 odd stories in a book of short stories aptly titled, "A Treasury of Short Stories" - a book that we read as a part of our curriculum in english literature for our ICSE exams. I still possessed this special book until a few months ago... it has been misplaced somehow... and even though I have searched everywhere, I have not found it... yet. Unfortunately... Sigh!

This story was originally published in Europe in 1967. It was also the only story in the book for whom the author information page said, "Information not available". The author's name though was listed as "Avery Taylor"... but in those days there was no Professor Google... !

For sometime now, I have wanted to read this story again but could not... since the precious book was lost. I have searched the internet a number of times to see if I could locate a soft copy... but in vain, until a couple of days ago, that is. That day my search led me to the following site: and I now look forward to watching the movie version of this timeless romance... eagerly.

Here are a few memorable lines from "Remember the Roses".....

"Jehane. Thank God. I thought they'd caught you."
She shook her head smiling. "I've been through fire before. It wasn't so bad." She caught his arm and moved to the wall embankment. "There is a boat moored below. They'll not look for you on the river. It's not far from the river's edge to the field where your plane will land. I think you can carry Renard that far."
- "I'll make it. And you?"
- "I Stay."
- "You could come with me."
She shook her head. "No, my heart is here. I think in your heart you know I must stay."
He did know it. He wasn't sure how he knew.
- "Then promise me you will take care."
She smiled slowly. "Another Robert said that to me a long time ago." A touch of sadness in her voice told him that this Robert had meant a lot to her.

And here's some more:

She took something from her trouser pocket and held it out. A small silver crucifix on a chain. "He gave me this. I should like you to have it. A keepsake, so you will not forget me."
He took it and held it for a moment. "I have nothing to give you in return."
- "One day you will come back to Rouen. When France is free. Then you bring me some flowers perhaps. English Roses."
- "I will bring the biggest bunch you ever saw. I promise. Where shall I find you?"
- "In the market place. You'll find me there."
- "Au revoir, Jehane." He bent and kissed her cheek then lifted Renard onto his shoulder and started down the steps to the boat.
As he cast off her voice floated down to him.
- "Adieu, Robert. Remember the roses."

Note: "Au revoir" (Till we meet again)
Adieu (Goodbye)

... In the end:

The Frenchman pointed to Robert's leg, stiffened by the bullet wound gained at the Rhine,
- "Un soldat brave, eh (Brave Soldier)?"
Robert laughed and shook his head. "Non. Un soldat trop lent."
- "Too slow." The man roared with laughter. "Oh, c'est bein. C'est tres bein."
Robert pushed on through the crowd of victory celebrators. The corner of the market place was oddly deserted. A small corner of quiet in the noisy square. He laid the huge bunch of red roses at the stone feet and looked up the silent figure of the Maid.
- "See Jehane.., I remembered the roses."

The storyline: It is a story set in the World War era of the Nazis and the Allied forces, where Captain Robert Phillips, an Allied WWII Special Operations Agent is entrusted with the mission of rescuing Paul Renard, the head of Resistance in Normandy (France) - who had been taken by the Gestapo, the German Police. He was one of the very few men who were aware of the Allied forces plans in France. It was well known that the strongest men can break under the Gestapo and the Allied forces could not risk having Paul breaking down and revealing their D-Day plans to the Nazis. Held in an ancient castle converted into a Gestapo stronghold, it's only a matter of time before the defiant Frenchman breaks under the brutality of the Gestapo. As the outcome of WWII hangs in the balance, Captain Robert Phillips is once more called upon by the Allied Forces High Command to infiltrate the Gestapo stronghold and rescue Paul or... "silence" him... before he talked and revealed their D-Day plans. All in the name of serving the larger and greater cause, the bigger picture... of saving humanity...

While on his "mission" Robert meets a (French) Resistance soldier... a mysterious woman called Jehan Lebrun. Jehane guides Robert through Nazi-infested Rouen by using underground sewers, abandoned churches, and crypts. She leads him to Paul Renard and then helps him in his daring escape... while carrying the unconscious Paul on his back... from right under the noses of the German prison guards.

Robert had actually intended to kill the unconscious Paul (after all his efforts to revive him went in vain) - by administering poisonous injection... so that Paul has an easy or painless death rather than suffer at the hands of the Nazis. This way, he reasons to himself that the allied forces D-Day plans can be saved from falling into the hands of the enemy (the Nazis). Jehane prevents this. Here is what transpired between them:

He took what looked like a tobacco pouch from his pocket and removed the screening layer of tobacco. Beneath was the ready-filled hypodermic. He squirted a thin jet of the colourless fluid into the air and pulled back the ripped sleeve of Renard's shirt.
Jehane's hands caught his wrist in a grip of steel.
- "That's murder."
Her voice was cold, as icy cold as her eyes, and he felt his fingers going numb.
- "Let go before I drop it."
- "No, I won't let you kill him."
He could have fought her but he didn't want to risk the noise of a struggle and she was too strong to be an easy opponent. "Listen to me," he whispered harshly. "He can't walk and I can't get him down that well. If I leave him he might talk. He'll certainly suffer a hell of a sight more before he dies. Do you think I enjoy doing it?"
- "No, it sickens you."
- "Yes, but it is necessary."
- "Ah, yes, the old story. Always the same. Better sacrifice one life than many. That's what they tell you, isn't it?"
- "And it’s true."
- "It's never true." There was a pitiless anger in her eyes and her voice was harsh with bitterness. "Every life is precious. War demands that we kill but in our defence, to save what god has given us. But this is murder. No. More than that. It is betrayal and you know it's wrong. In your heart you know."
- "All right. So it's wrong, but I'm the one who has to live with it."
- "As you've lived with the other memory? For six months? Hating yourself? Oh, I know,"
she answered the startled question in his eyes.
- "I know all about it. Then there was no one to help you, to show you what was right and what was wrong. You had your orders and though you knew it was murder you could not bring yourself to ignore those orders. But this time it's different. This time I'm here and I'll tell you now, destroy this man and you destroy yourself, your very soul. You know I speak the truth. You know how it was with you the last time. This time it will be worse, much worse."
He gave up the flight, gave up lying to himself. She was right.
He couldn't live with another dead on his conscience. And he was tired, tired of pretending to be cold-blooded about killing, tired of the whole dirty game Intelligence forced him to play.
He closed his eyes and felt her grip on his wrist relax. "How did you know? Who told you?"
- "It's not important. I know and there's an end to it. Now you must decide. Will you destroy yourself or will you say 'no'? Just this once. If you kill this man you are no better than them." She jerked her head upwards. "They have no regard for life."
He drew a breath, letting the syringe fall from his fingers.

No one believes his story and report of escape and when he digs up the evidences he can only come to the conclusion that it was the "Maid of Orléans"... Joan of Arc herself who saved him and Paul. But what is more touching is the way the story plays out, tying in a romantic love story in a most unique way... as if this Captain Robert Phillips of the second World War era is the same 15th century Knight... Sir Robert whom Joan of Arc is supposed to have loved. It is as if Joan of Arc transcended time and space... death, the afterlife, and hundreds of centuries in order to save Robert's life, his conscience and his faith... in a way to suggest that love never dies and romance is eternal. It truly tugs at our heartstrings. It is a very touching story with just the right amount of mystery, love, history and romance to it... and lingers on and on in the mind of the reader even after the last word has been read. Especially the haunting last line: "See Jehane.., I remembered the roses." This story also conveys the powerful message that every life is precious, and that sometimes only the past can save the future.

Link: For all those who love this story, here is the link to download "Remember the Roses" - the pdf version:

For all those who have not read this story... read it, and then read it again! You won't like to stop in between and wouldn't want it to end. This story with its gripping action and adventure remains a magnificent love story throughout.

(Stay tuned...)

P.S. "Remember the Roses"... soft copy drafted by: Vinitt Jaiswal, courtesy:

Note: Flag of Charles de Gaulle's government in exile during World War II - The French Resistance used the cross of Lorraine as a symbolic reference to Joan of Arc.

More info on Joan of Arc can be found from the 1928 film: The Passion of Joan of Arc (French: La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc). It is widely regarded as a landmark in cinema.

Joan of Arc (1948 film) - directed by Victor Fleming; starring Ingrid Bergman as the French religious icon and war heroine. It was produced by Walter Wanger. It is based on Maxwell Anderson's successful Broadway play Joan of Lorraine, which also starred Bergman, and was adapted for the screen by Anderson himself, in collaboration with Andrew Solt.

Some information gathered and photographs, courtesy Wikipedia.


1. Joan of Arc's signature, detail from a surviving document. She could not read nor write but learned to sign her name. It is said that she dictated her letters and three of the surviving ones are signed. She was also referred to as Jeanne d'Arc.

2. A bunch of dark red roses - to suit the title of this story.


  1. The title looks so familiar... u mentioned it on Sumit's blog too... one of your comments thr. I have been scratching my brain trying to remember the story, but I still can't, not even after reading your excerpts and the storyline. :(

    But correct me if I'm wrong... isn't it the same book of short stories which had the 'Gift of the Magi' and the 'Face on the Wall'? Why did u misplc that book yaar? Can u find links for those other 2 stories too? I really want to read them again!

  2. Kudos Roshmi for the work the research and bringing out the story back... Yeah I remember the story still, after a more than a decade I read in ICSE...I had liked it lot back then...I'll download the pdf version from link once I am home :D... great job for bringing back the memories .... the short stories book both in Hindi and English were my favorite in ICSE and ISC...I think they had the choicest stories in them...

  3. Oooh, I liked the "Remember the roses" teaser you have given here... makes me want to read the story! :)

  4. @ Kaddu... Yes! It was the same book... "Treasury of Short Stories".

    Lady! I had no intention of misplacing the book... it somehow got misplaced... :(

    I have provided the link to download "Remember the Roses"... at the end of my post... just download that pdf version and read it...

    Alternatively... here it is again:

    Other links:

    1. Gift of the Magi:

    2. The Face on the Wall:

  5. @ Dhiman... Thanks a bunch!

    Yes, the story is timeless. It remains with the reader... forever.

    Those days we used to read some of the best stories... in literature, courtesy ICSE and ISC. Not sure if it is the same with the current crop of students, though...

  6. @ Kokonad... I have provided the link to download "Remember the Roses"... at the end of my post...

    Alternatively... here it is again:

    It's a pdf version.

    This is a magnificent love story... not to be missed!

  7. Awesome! Thanks yaar! You are just brilliant! :-*

  8. The lines you have quoted from Magnolias Still Bloom have an enchanting quality. The words are like strains of music that can be heard from a distance only if one keeps still. And when one does keep still one can hear it well enough.
    About Joan of Arc, whatever I read seems wonderful. A woman I admire in infinite proportions. Like you, I too read this story in my school days. I enjoyed it immensely as I did when I read Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw.
    The Treasury of Short Stories is a real treasure. There is not a single story that does not keep you riveted to the book. The compiler has done a great job.
    Remember the Roses is also about the futility of war that is ironically often realized by people who actually take part. The decision makers and instigators, often those who propagate and sermonize about the ‘common good’, almost always never get it right. Friend is often pitted against friend and the excuse is that there is no other way out. Joan saves her beloved from that agony when she stops him with her iron grip just in time, and Robert does not have to administer the lethal shot. The writer has subtly put forward the motif of the futile nature of war in the guise of a haunting love story and brought up strongly ethical questions through the dialogues that take place between Joan and Robert.

  9. @ Rajdeep... Thanks for your wonderful comments.

    I strongly feel... you should continue with your postings :)

    I too am a huge admirer of Joan of Arc. I have always been fascinated by her story, her legend.

  10. Thanks a lot fot the link to download the story. I was searching the story franatically for the last five years long after I lost my copy of the ICSE Text book.

  11. @ Anonymous: Welcome to my blog!

    Now that you have found the story... read it and then read it again... ! :)

    P.S. Appreciate if you let me know your name/identity... rather than being simply 'anonymous'...

  12. Hi Roshmi. Liked your post a lot. Stirred up memories of high school for sure. I loved this story. Well I loved most of the stories in 'Treasury'. ICSE did have some gems in its literature syllabus.

    I downloaded the story from the link you posted. Am gonna share it with my school mates. They will love it.

    Thanks again. And if you like, you could visit my blog at :


  13. @ Deepa: Thanks for the review. Appreciate you dropping in!

    I too love this story... "Remember the Roses", even after all these years.

    Please share it with as many friends you can... and let us all relive some of the best moments of our lives... !

  14. well done ...............i agree with all of u T.O.S.S. will be within us forever they are the only link we have with the days of old when we were in class tiger in the tunnel do u ppl remember that one????

  15. @ Anonymous - was it by Ruskin Bond? I remember this one called The Signalman. Cant remember if it was in TOSS or elsewhere. Had a very eerie feel to it!

  16. @ Anonymous: Yes... "A Treasury of Short Stories" was a real treasure... the name was very apt! :)

    We can never outgrow the stories... those 16 odd stories were some of the best short stories... of all time...

    "The Tiger in the Tunnel" was a superb story... unforgettable!

  17. @ Deepa: Yes... "The Tiger in the Tunnel" was by Ruskin Bond... one of my favourite authors.

    This story was signature Ruskin Bond... and was the first among the 16 odd stories in that precious book.

    "The Signalman" by Charles Dickens... too was a part of this book.

    I will do another post shortly... where I may be able to provide the links to the other stories... from Treasury :)

    P.S. My other post... "Remember the Roses... (II)" contains the links to a couple of other stories... "The Eyes Have It" and "The Gift of the Magi".

    Do check them out, if you can...

  18. Whoever you are - THANK YOU. This was in 1990 when i read the story for the first time. Yes. I too am from the ICSE board, and this story touched me the most. I did save the book - Treasury of Short Stories, but my mom didnt think it was important, so she sold it to a waste dealer.
    Thankyou once again.

  19. @ Anonymous: Thanks! Appreciate you dropping in...

    Yes... "A Treasury of Short Stories" was a real treasure... the name was very apt! :)

    We can never outgrow these stories... and now that you have found the story, read it and then read it again... ! :)

    P.S. Appreciate if you let me know your name/identity... rather than being simply 'anonymous'...

  20. Hi!

    Thanks for this wonderful post. This is the story I have read again and again during my ICSE days...almost 15 years have passed since my ICSE but I still fondly remember this wonderful story. When someone asks me which is the short story I like most I fondly say "Remember The Roses" by Avery Taylor. 'A Treasury of Short Stories' and 'Panaroma' were just two wonderful books. I was the last ICSE batch which had 'A Treasury of Short Stories' as one of the prose books. I have lost possession of 'A Treasury of Short Stories' but I would like to buy one if it is still published/reprinted. The mediafire link you have put here does not work - I will be thankful if you can upload the PDF version of 'Remember The Roses' to any hosting site and let me know the link.

    Thanks in advance!


  21. @ Banushankar: Thanks for stopping by my blog... and glad to know that this was your favourite story too!

    P.S. The mediafire link... mentioned in this post... works just fine. I checked. It contains the pdf version of the story.

    You may want to try it again.

  22. thanx so much for visiting my blog, commenting on my thoughs as well supporting my views. do keep visiting

  23. @ Anju Gandhi: :)

    Certainly! Have been reading your posts regularly...

  24. thank you. yes, i still have my treasury of short stories...this was the last story...thank you. 1992. was lookin for this to send to a friend. thank you. warmth+love. h

  25. @ Anonymous: Thanks and welcome to my blog!

    "A Treasury of Short Stories" was a real treasure and we can never outgrow these stories

    P.S. Appreciate if you let me know your name/identity... rather than being simply 'anonymous'...

  26. I loved this post! I came here searching for the author of The face in wall - which was part of the same 'Treasury' :)

    And I am so glad! This post brought back so many memories of ICSE years! Remember the Roses was one of my favourites! It was such a beautiful beautiful story! Thanks for this lovely lovely post!

  27. @ Smitha: Thanks and Welcome to my blog! Hope you have a great fun time here :)

    "The Face on the Wall" is one of my favourites too! We can never outgrow these stories... and now that you have found this story, read it and then read it again... ! :)

  28. i also remember this story too well.i also remember that the first thing i did after i came to the end of the story was to look for information regarding the author only to be dissappointed to see "nothing known about the author".Its a really beautiful haunting story that has stayed with me and will stay for a very long time.i used to have this ' a treasury of short stories' with me for a long time but i have lost it since.i don't think the present std 10 reads the book any more.

  29. @ Sumina: Thanks and welcome to my blog!

    Great to find another fan of "Remember the Roses" here... and to know that there are so many of us who have not forgotten this amazing story!

    You are right... the current batch of class X students do not read this book any more. Infact, its been that way for a while now. "A Treasury of Short Stories" has become a lost treasure... sadly!

  30. 12 years ago, I was searching through my dad's drawer for a pen, when I saw this small booklet. It said "Remember the Roses" on the cover.
    I took it to my room, read it and loved it. We shifted a couple of times, and somehow that book was lost. My father inquired about the book, but I feigned ignorance.
    I was searching for this one ever since.
    Finally I can get this one for my dad.

  31. i too love this book and i want to tell you that std IX read this book currently and you can get it from there

  32. Hi
    i too love this book and i am really touched by the story"remember the roses".I also want to say that this book has been currently readen by classIX icse

  33. Beautiful story..ICSE 1993 batch Every story was a gem - Tiger in the tunnel,Silver Lining,
    Half a Rupee Worth, Face on the WAll, Fishy Story, Lost Pearls,Dusk,Mowgli's Brothers,Case for Defence,Three Questions,Gift of the Magi...I recollect most of them..a treasure in every sense of the word..!

  34. Hello everyone and thank you for having this great blog for us to read. I have a humble request to you good folks here. If you could send me a complete list of stories and authors featured in the "Treasury of Short Stories", you will have my eternal gratitude. My email address is and my name is Siddharth

  35. So many people around the country connected through the works of some inspiring authors...among all the things I studied, though some of the subjects were practically useful, the only memories that have left a lasting impression were these short stories...enough to make me want to learn french, travel and finally work in films to tell more of such inspiring stories...good to know how many others were touched....A

  36. ICSE 2011 has treasure trove though sum stories mentioned above are not der...REmembr d roses is der along wid tiger in d tunnel,gift of d magi and many more..

  37. @ Sanjoli: Thanks for letting me know... and welcome here :)

  38. @ Anon #6: Great!

    P.S. Would be great if you (all anons... that is) disclose your name/identity...

  39. @ Anon #8/Siddharth: Thanks for stopping by...

  40. @ Ashok: Welcome here... and I agree with your views.

  41. @ Bhakti: Thanks for letting me know... and welcome here :)

  42. i read the story....and its one of the best i ever read......i would like to tell everyone to read it....its just ...cannot be forgotten ...

  43. @ Suruchi: I agree... and welcome here :)

  44. today in 2011 anything about avery taylor is still not available.If anyone can provibe a link on the biography on avery taylor i had be gratefull.

  45. @ Anon #9: Appreciate if you could let us know your name/identity... rather than being simply 'anonymous'...

    P.S. Hopefully someone can help you with your query. Lets see...

  46. Treasury of Short Stories now comes by the name of 'The Treasure Trove of Short Stories', in case anyone wants a hardcopy

  47. respected maam,
    i appeared for my icse in the spring of 1993, from st josephs north point darjeeling. the school days at north point were the best days of my life. me and my freinds go nostalgic remembering those days and the story "remember the roses" brings a lump in our throat. we remember our JEHANES. thanx.

  48. @ Anon #10: Thanks for letting us know. But would appreciate if you let us know your name/identity.

  49. @ Sashibhushan: Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  50. touching and extremely romantic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. @ Anon #11: Thanks! But appreciate if you could leave your name...

  52. I was both surprised and delighted that you all enjoyed my story, Remember the Roses. It was one of only two shorts I wrote, both commissioned by Barry & Jenkins for their 5th & 6th Ghost Books. The second being Death of a Ghost.
    I wrote many novels, all published by Robert Hale, in the sixties and seventies and have just started writing novels again. My next one is being released this month and is titled, Twist of Fate, while another will be published as an e book by Lyrical press in July. It's called, Shadow in the Sun.
    The first is a fast paced thriller set in Far North Queensland but the second is a romance.
    I hope, if you do decide to read them, that you enjoy them as much as Remember the Roses.
    If you would like to get in touch my address is:-
    Thank you all for your kind words,
    Avery Taylor.

  53. I was surprised and delighted to find this page and discover how much you all enjoyed my story. It was one of only two shorts I ever wrote and was commissioned by Barry & Jenkins for their 5th & 6th Ghost Books, the second being Death of a Ghost.
    I wrote nine novels for Robert Hale back in the 60s & 70s before turning to serials for True Magazine.
    I now live in Australia and have now taken up writing novels once more. My next one, Twist of Fate, is being released this month by Hale. It's a fast paced thriller set in Far North Queensland.
    I also have a romance, Shadow in the Sun, being published as an e book in July by Lyrical press.
    If any of you decide to read either of these books I hope you enjoy them as much as you did Remember the Roses.
    If any of you wish to contact me I would love to hear from you. My address is:-
    Many thanks for all your comments,
    Best regards,
    Avery Taylor.

  54. @ Avery Taylor: Thank you Ma'am for stopping by my blog. Frankly, I am overwhelmed!

  55. I was searching for Treasury of short stories which lead me to here. The comments was like a time machine experience. I was from the 1993 Batch, Remember most of the stories from the book and all are a true gem. Thanks and cheers !