Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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public-house.

When they had finished eating, and
were smoking and drinking, they began,
as usual, to talk about the dull life they
were leading. The bottle of brandy
and of liquors passed from hand to hand,
and all sat back in their chairs, taking
repeated sips from their glasses, and
scarcely removing the long, bent stems,
which terminated in china bowls painted
in a manner to delight a Hottentot, from
their mouths.

As soon as their glasses were empty,
they filled them again, with a gesture



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MADEMOISELLE FIFI



77



of resigned weariness, but Mademoiselle
Fifi emptied his every minute, and a
soldier immediately gave him another.
They were enveloped in a cloud of
strong tobacco smoke; they seemed to
be sunk in a state of drowsy, stupid in-
toxication, in that dull state of drunk-
enness of men who have nothing to do,
when suddenly, the baron sat up, and
said: "By heavens! This cannot go
on; we must think of something to do.*'
And on hearing this. Lieutenant Otto
and Sub-lieutenant Fritz, who pre-
eminently ix>ssessed the grave, heavy
German countenance, said: "What,
Captain?"

He thought for a few moments, and
then repHed: "What? Well, we must
get up some entertainment, if the
commandant will allow us."

"What sort of an entertainment, cap-
tain?" the major asked, taking his pipe
out of his mouth.

"I will arrange all that, commandant,"
the baron said : "I will send Le Devoir
to Rouen, who will bring us some ladies.
I know where they can be foimd. We
will have supper here, as all the mate-
rials are at hand, and, at least, we shall
have a jolly evening."

Graf von Farlsberg shrugged his
shoulders witK ji smile: "You must
surely be mad, my friend."

But all the other ofl&cers got up, sur-
rounded their chief, and said : "Let cap-
tain have his own way, commandant; it
is terribly dull here."

And the major ended by yielding.
*'Very well," he replied, and the baron
inmiediately sent for Le Devoir,

The latter was an old corporal who
had never been seen to smile, but who
carried out all orders of his superiors



to the letter, no matter what they
might be. He stood there, with an im-
passive face, while he received the
baron's instructions, and then went out;
five minutes later a large wagon be-
longing to the military train, covered
with a miller's tilt, galloped off as
fast as four horses could take it, under
the pouring rain, and the officers all
seemed to awaken from their lethargy,
their looks brightened, and they began
to talk.

Although it was raining as hard as
ever, the major declared that it was
not so dull, and Lieutenant von Grossling
said with conviction, that the sky was
clearing up, while Mademoiselle Fifi
did not seem to be able to keep in his
place. He got up, and sat down again,
and his bright eyes seemed to be look-
ing for something to destroy. Suddenly,
looking at the lady with the mustaches,
the young fellow pulled out his revolver,
and said: "You shall not see it." And
without leaving his seat he aimed, and
with two successive bullets cut out both
the eyes of the portrait.

"Let us make a mine!" he then ex-
claimed, and the conversation was sud-
denly interrupted, as if they had found
some fresh and powerful subject of in-
terest. The mine was his invention, his
method of destruction, and his favorite
amusement.

When he left the chiteau, the lawful
owner, Count Femand d'Amoys d'Ur-
ville, had not had time to carry away
or to hide anything, except the plate,
which had been stowed away in a hole
made in one of the walls, so that, as he
was very rich and had good taste, the
large drawing-room, which opened into
this dining-room, had looked like the



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78



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



gallery in a museum, before bis pre-
cipitate flight.

Expensive oil-paintings, water-colors,
and drawings hung upon the walls, while
on the tables, on the hanging shelves,
and in elegant glass cupboards, there
were a thousand knickknacks: small
vases, statuettes, groups in Dresden
china, grotesque Chinese figures, old
ivory, and Venetian glass, which filled the
large room with their precious and
fantastical array.

Scarcely anything was left now; not
that the things had been stolen, for the
major would not have allowed that, but
Mademoiselle Fifi would have a mine,
and on that occasion all the officers
thoroughly enjoyed themselves for five
minutes. The little marquis went into
the drawing-room to get what he wanted,
and he brought back a small, delicate
china teapot, which he filled with gim-
powder, and carefully introduced a
piece of German tinder into it, through
the spout. Then he lighted it, and took
this infernal machine into the next
room; but he came back immediately,
and shut the door. The Germans all
stood expectantly, their faces full of
childish, smiling curiosity, and as soon
as the explosion had shaken the chateau,
they all rushed in at once.

Mademoiselle Fifi, who got in first,
clapped his hands in delimit at the
sight of a terra-cotta Venus, whose head
had been blown off, and each picked up
pieces of porcelain, and wondered at
the strange shape of the fragments,
while the major was looking with a pa-
ternal eye at the large drawing-room
which had been wrecked in such a Ne-
ronic fashion, and which was strewn with
the fragments of works of art. He



went out first, and said, with a smile:
''He managed that very well!"

But there was such a cloud of smoke
in the dining-room mingled with the to-
bacco smoke, that they could not
breathe, so the commandant opened the
window, and all the officers, who had
gone into the room for a glass of
cognac, went up to it.

The moist air blew into the room, and
brought a sort of spray with it, which
powdered their beards. They looked at
the tall trees which were dripping with
the rain, at the broad valley which was
covered with mist, and at the church
spire in the distance, which rose up like
a gray point in the beating rain.

The bells had not rung since their ar-
rival. That was the only resistance
which the invaders had met with in the
neighborhood. The parish priest had
not refused to take in and to feed the
Prussian soldiers; he had several times
even drunk a bottle of beer or claret
with the hostile commandant, who
often employed him as a benevolent in-
termediary; but it was no use to ask
him for a single stroke of the bells; he
would sooner have allowed himself to
be shot. That was his way of protest-
ing against the invasion, a peaceful and
silent protest, the only one, he said,
which was suitable to a priest, who was
a man of mildness, and not of blood;
and everyone, for twenty-five miles
round, praised Abbe Chantavoine's firm-
ness and heroism, in venturing to pro-
claim the public mourning by the ob-
stinate silence of his church bells.

The whole village grew enthusiastic
over his resistance, and was ready to
back up their pastor and to risk any-
thing, as they looked UDon that silent



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MADEMOISELLE FIFI



79



protest as the safeguard of the national
honor. It seemed to the peasants that
thus they had deserved better of their
country than Belfort and Strassburg,
that they had set an equally valxiable
example, and that the name of their lit-
tle ^dllage would become immortalized
by that; but with that exception, they
refused theii.Trussian conquerors noth-
ing.

The commandant and his officers
laughed among themselves at that in-
offensive courage, and as the people in
the whole country round showed them-
selves obliging and compliant toward
them, they willingly tolerated their si-
lent patriotism. Only little Count Wil-
hehn would have liked to have forced
them to ring the bells. He was very
angry at his superior's politic com-
pliance with the priest's scruples, and
every day he begged the commandant
to allow his to sound "ding-dong, ding-
dong," just once, only just once, just
by way of a joke. And he asked it
like a wheedling woman, in the tender
voice of some mistress who wishes to
obtain something, but the commandant
would not jdeld, and to console herself,
Mademoiselle Fifi made a mine in the
chateau.

The five men stood there together for
some minutes, inhaling the moist air,
and at last, Lieutenant Fritz said, with
a laugh: "The ladies will certainly not
have fine weather for their drive." Then
they separated, each to his own duties,
while the captain had plenty to do in
seeing about the dinner.

When they met again, as it was grow-
ing dark, they began to laugh at seeing
each other as dandified and smart as on
the day of a grand review. The com-



mandant's hair did not look as gray as
it did in the morning, and the captain
had shaved — had only kept his mustache
on, which made him look as if he had a
streak of fire under his nose.

In spite of the rain, they left the win-
dow open, and one of them went to lis-
ten from time to time. At a quarter
past six the baron said he heard a rum-
bling in the distance. They all rushed
down, and soon the wagon drove up at
a gallop with its four horses, splashed
up to their backs, steaming and pant-
ing. Five women got out at the bot-
tom of the steps, five handsome girls
whom a comrade of the captain, to
whom Le Devoir had taken his card, had
selected with care.

They had not required much press-
ing, as they were sure of being well
treated, for they had got to know the
Prussians in the three months during
which they had had to do with them.
So they resigned themselves to the men
as they diila-the state of affairs. "It
is part of our business, so it must be
done," they said as they drove along;
no doubt to allay some slight, secret
scruples of conscience.

They went into the dining-room im-
mediately, which looked still more dis-
mal in its dilapidated state, when it was
lighted up; while the table covered with
choice dishes, the beautiful china and
glass, and the plate, which had been
found in the hole in the wall where its
owner had hidden it, gave to the place
the look of a bandits' resort, where they
were supping after committing a rob-
bery. The captain was radiant; he
took hold of the women as if he were
familiar with them; appraising them,
kissing them, valuing them for what they



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80



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



were worth as ladies of pleasure; and
when the three young men wanted to
appropriate one each, he opposed them
authoritatively, reserving to himself the
right to apportion them justly, accord-
ing to their several ranks, so as not to
wound the hierarchy. Therefore, so as
to avoid all discussion, jarring, and
suspicion of partialty, he placed them
all in a line according to height, and
addressing the tallest, he said in a
voice of command:

**What is your name?*'

"Pamela," she replied, raising her
voice.

Then he said: "Number One, called
J^amela, is adjudged to the comman-
dant."

Then, having kissed 3lQndina, the
second, as a sign of proprietorship, he
proffered stout Amanda- to Lieutenant
Otto, Biwi, "the Tomato," to Sub-
lieutenant Fritz, and Rachel, the short-
est of them all, a very ynnng, dajrk
girl, with eyes„as^black a§_ink^ajewes%-
whose snub nose confirmed by exception
the rule which allots hooked noses to all
her race, to the youngest oflficer, frail
Count Wilhelm von Eyrick.

They were all pretty and plump, with-
out any distinctive features, and all
were very much alike in look and per-
^ son, from their daily dissipation, and
the life common to houses of public
accommodation.

The three younger men wished to
carry off their women immediately, un-
der the pretext of finding them brushes
and soap; but the captain wisely op-
posed this, for he said they were quite
fit to sit down to dinner, and that those
who went up would wish for a change
when they came down, and so would



disturb the other couples, and his ez«
perience in such matters carried the day.
There were only many kisses; expectant
kisses.

Suddenly Rachel choked, and began
to cough until the tears came into h^
eyes, while smoke came through her
nostrils. Under pretense of kissing her,
the count had blown a whiff of tobacco
into her mouth. She did not fly into a
rage, and did not say a word, but she
looked at her possessor with latent
hatred in her dark eyes.

They sat down to dinner. The c<Mn-
mandant seemed delighted; he made
Pamela sit on his right, and Blondina on
his left, and said, as he imfolded his
table napkin: "That was a delightful
idea of yours, captain."

Lieutenants Otto and Fritz, who
were as polite as if they had been with
fashionable ladies, rather intimidated
their neighbors, but Baron von Kel-
weinstein gave the reins to all his vicious
propensities, beamed, made doubtful re-
marks, and seemed on fire with his
crown of red hair. He paid them com-
pliments in French from the other side
of the Rhine, and sputtered out gallant
remarks, only fit for a low pothouse,
from between his two broken teeth.

They did not imdertsand hun, how-
ever, and thein intelligence did not seem
to be awakened until he uttered nasty
words and broad expressions, which
were mangled by his accent. Then aQ
began to laugh at once, like mad women,
and fell against each other, repeating the
words, which the baron then began to
say all wrong, in order that he might
have the pleasure of hearing them say
doubtful things. They gave him as
much of that stuff as he wanted, foi



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MADEMOISELLE FIH



81



they were drunk after the first bottle
of wine, and, becoming themselves once
more, and opening the door to their
usual habits, they kissed the mustaches
on the right and left of them, pinched
their arms, uttered furious cries, drank
out of every glass, and sang French
couplets, and bits of German songS,
which they had picked up in their daily
intercourse with the enemy.

Soon the men themselves, intoxicated
by that which was displayed to their
sight and touch, grew very amorous,
shouted and broke the plates and dishes,
while the soldiers behind them waited
on them stolidly. The commandant
was the only one who put any restraint
upon himself.

Mademoiselle Fifi had taken Rachel
on to his knees, and, getting excited, at
one moment kissed the little black curls
on her neck, inhaling the pleasant
warmth of her body, and all the savor
of her person, through the slight space
there was between her dress and her
skin, and at another pinched her furi-
ously through the material, and made
her scream, for he was seized with a
species of ferocity, and tormented by
his desire to hurt her. He often held
her close to him, as if to make her part
of himself, and put his lips in a long
kiss on the Jewess's rosy mouth, until
she lost her breath; and at last he bit
her until a stream of blood ran down
her chin and on to her bodice.

For the second time, she looked him
full in the face, and as she bathed the
wound, she said: **You will have to
pay for that!"

But he merely laughed a hard laugh,
and said: "I will pay.'*

At dessert, champagne was served,



and the commandant rose, and in the
same voice in which he would have
drunk to the health of the Empress
Augusta, he drank: "To our ladies!"
Then a series of toasts began, toasts
worthy of the lowest soldiers and of
drunkards, mingled with filthy jokes,
which were made still more brutal by
their ignorance of the language. They
got up, one after the other, trying to
say something witty, forcing themselves
to be funny, and the women, who were
so drunk that they almost fell off their
chairs, with vacant looks and clamn^y
tongues, applauded madly each time.

The captain, who no doubt wished to
impart an appearance of gallantry to the
orgy, raised his glass again, and said:
"To our victories over hearts!" There-
upon Lieutenant Otto, who was a species
of bear from the Black Forest, jumped
up, inflamed and saturated with drink,,
and seized by an access of alcoholic
patriotism, cried: "To our victories
over France!"

Drunk as they were, the women were
silent, and Rachel turned round with a
shudder, and said: "Look here, I
know some Frenchmen, in whose pres-
ence you would not dare to say that."
But the little count, still holding her on
his knees, began to laugh, for the wine
had made him very merry, and said:
"Ha ! ha ! ha ! I have never met any of
them, myself. As soon as we show our-
selves, they run away!"

The girl, who was in a terrible rage,,
shouted into his face: "You are lying,^
you dirty scoundrel!"

For a moment, he looked at her
steadily, with his bright eyes upon her,
as he had looked at the portrait before
he destroyed it with revolver bulletau



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52



WORKS OF GUY BE MAUPASSANT



and then he began tc laugh: "Ah! yes,
talk about them, my dear! Should we
be here now, if they were brave?" Then
getting excited, he exclaimed: "We are
the masters! France belongs to us I"
She jumped off his knees with a bound,
and threw herself into her chair, while
he rose, held out his glass over the
table, and repeated: "France and the
French, the woods, the fields, and the
ihouses of France belong to us!''
' The others, who were quite drunk,
and who were suddenly seized by mili-
tary enthusiasm, the enthusiasm of
brutes, seized their glasses, and shout-
ing, "Long live Prussia!" emptied them
at a draught.

The girls did not protest, for they
were reduced to silence, and were afraid.
Even Rachel did not say a word, as she
had no reply to make, and then the
little count put his champagne glass,
which had just been refilled, on to the
head of the Jewess, and exclaimed: "All
the women in France belong to us, also I"

At that she got up so quickly that
the glass upset, spilling the amber col-
ored wine on to her black hair as if to
baptize her, and broke into a hundred
fragments as it fell on to the floor.
With trembling lips, she defied the looks
of the oflScer, who was still laughing,
and she stammered out, in a voice
choked with rage: "That— that— that
— ^is not true, — for you shall certainly
not have any French women."

He sat down again, so as to laugh at
his ease, and trying effectually to speak
in the Parisian accent, he said: "That
is good, very good! Then what did you
come here for, my de^r?"

She was thunderstruck, and made no
reply for a moment, for in her agitation



she did not understand him at first;
but as soon as she grasped his meaning,
she said to him indignantly and vehe-
mently: "I! I! am not a woman; I
am only a stnunpet, and that is all
that Prussians want."

Almost before she had finished, he
slapped her full in her face; but as he
was raising his hand again, as if he
would strike her, she, almost mad with
passion, took up a small dessert knife
from the table, and stabbed him right
in the neck, just above the breastbone.
Something that he was going to say, was
cut short in his throat, and he sat there,
with his mouth half open, and a terrible
look in bis eyes.

All the officers shouted in horror, and
leaped up tumultuously; but throwing
her chair between Lieutenant Otto's
legs, who fell down at full length, she
ran to the window, opened it before they
could seize her, and jumped out into the
night and pouring rain.

In two minutes. Mademoiselle Fifi
was dead. Fritz and Otto drew their
swords and wanted to kill the women,
who threw themselves at their feet and"^
clung to their knees. With some diffi-
culty the major stoj^ed the slaughter^
and had the four terrified girls locked
up in a room under the care of two
soldiers. Then he organized the pur-
suit of the fugitive, as carefully as if
he were about to engage in a skirmish,
feeling quite sure that she would be
caught.

The table, which had been cleared im-
mediately, now served as a bed on which
to lay Fifi out, and the four officers made
for the window, rigid and sobered, with
the stem faces of soldiers on duty, and
tried to pierce through the darkness



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MONSIEUR PARENT



83



of the night, amid the steady torrent of
rain. Suddenly, a shot was heard, and
then another, a long way off; and for
four hours they heard, from time to
time, near or distant reports and rally-
ing cries, strange words uttered as a call,
in guttural voices.

In the morning they all returned.
Two soldiers had been killed and three
others wounded by their comrades in the
ardor of that chase, and in the confusion
of such a nocturnal pursuit, but they
had not caught Rachel.

Then the inhabitants of the district
were terrorized, the houses were turned
topsy-turvy, the country was scoured
and beaten up, over and over again,
but the Jewess did not seem to have
left a single trace of her passage behind
her.

When the general was told of it, he
gave orders to hush up the affair, so as
not to set a bad example to the army,
but he severely censured the comman-^^
dant, who in turn punished his inferiors.i^
The general had said: "One doe&^nqt
go to war in ordler to amuse oneself,^
and to caress prostitutes.- And Graf
von Farlsberg, m his exasperation, made
up his mind to have his revenge on the
district, but as he required a pretext for
showing severity, he^sent for the priest,
and ordered him to have the bell toUed
at the funeral of "Count von Eyrick.

Contrary to all expecTation^tEe priest
showed himself humble and most re-



spectful, and when Mademoiselle Fifi's
body left the Chateau d'Urville on its
way to the cemetery, carried by soldiers,
preceded, surrounded, and followed by
soldiers, who marched with loaded rifles,
for the first time the bell sounded ^s
funereal knell in a lively manner, as if
a friendly hand were caressing it. St
night it sounded again, and the next
day, and every day; it rang as much as
anyone could desire. Sometimes even,
it would start at night, and sound gently
through the darkness, seized by strange
joy, awakened, one could not tell why.
All the peasants in the neighborhood de-
clared that it was bewitched, and no-
body, except the priest and the sacristan
woidd now go near the church tower,
and they went because a poor girl was
living there in grief and solitude, se-
cretly nourished by those two men.

She remained there until the German
troops departed, and then one evening
the priest borrowed the baker's cart,
and himself drove his prisoner to Rouen.
When they got there, he embraced her,
and she quickly went back on foot to
the establishment from which she had
come, where the proprietress, who
thought that she was dead, was very
glad, to see her.

A short time afterward, a patriot
who had no prejudices, who liked her
because of her bold deed, and who after-
ward loved her for herself, married her,
and made a lady of her.



Monsieur Parent



Little George was piling hills of sand into a pyramid, and then put a chestnut
in one of the waiks. He scooped » the leaf on the top,* and his father, sitting on
Band up with both his hands, made it an iron chair, was looking at him with



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K4



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



concentrated and affectionate attention,
seeing nobody else in the small public
garden, which was full of people. All
along the circular road other children
were busy in the same manner, or were
indulging in other childish games, while
nursemaids were strolling two and two,
wdth their bright cap-ribbons floating
behind them, and carrying something
wrapped up in lace, in their arms. Here -
and there little girls in short petticoats
and bare legs were talking seriously to-
gether, while resting from trundling their
hoops.

The sun was just disappearing behind
the roofs of the Rue Saint-Lazare, but
still shed its rays obliquely on that little
overdressed crowd. The chestnut trees
were lighted up with its yellow rays,
and the three fountains before the lofty
porch of the church shone like molten
silver.

Monsieur Parent looked at his boy sit-
ting there in the dusk; he followed his
slightest movements with affection in his
glance; but accidentally looking up at
the church dock, he saw that he was
five minutes late, so he got up, took the
child by the aifm and shook his sand-
covered dress, wiped his hands and led
him in the direction of the Rue Blanche.
He walked quickly, so as ijot to get in
after his wife, but as the child could not
keep up the pace, he took him up and
carried him, though it made him pant
when he had to walk up the steep street.
Parent was a man of forty, turning gray
already, rather stout. He had married,



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