Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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which he gave to his hounds.

But they did not know that the man
with the dogs had some years before
given her, once for all, a lesson in fi-
delity, and that for a mere trifle, a
venial sin! He had surprised her for
allowing herself to be kissed by some
gallant, that was all! He had not taken
any notice, but when the man was gone,
he brought two of his hounds into the
loom, and said:

"If you do not want them to tear
your inside out as they would a rabbit's,
go down on your knees so that I may
thrash you!"

She obeyed in terror, and the man
with the dogs had beaten her with a
whip until his arm dropped with fatigue.
And she did not venture to scream, al-
though she was bleeding under the blows
of the thong, which tore her dress, and
cut into the flesh; all she dared to do
was to utter low, hoarse groans; for
while beating her, he kept on saying:

"Don't make a noise, by ; don't

make a noise, or I will let the dogs fly
at you."

From that time she had been faith-
ful to Bistaud, though she had naturally
not told anyone the reason for it, or
for her hatred either, not even Bistaud
himself, who thought that she was sub-
dued for all time, and always found her
very submissive and respectful. But for

six years she had nourished her hatred
in her heart, feeding it on silent hopes
and promises of revenge. And it was
that flame of hope and that longing for
revenge, which made her so coquettish
with the custom-house officers, for she
hoped to find a possible avenger among
her inflammable admirers.

At last she came across the right man.
He was a splendid sub-officer of the
customs, built like a Hercules, with fists
like a butdier's, and had long leased
four of his ferocious dogs from her

As soon as they had grown accus-
tomed to their new master, and espe-
cially after they had tasted the flesh
of the smugglers' dogs, they had, by
degrees become detached from their
former master, who had reared them.
No doubt they still recognized him a
little, and would not have sprung at
his throat, as if he were a perfect
stranger, but still, they did not hesitate
between his voice and that of their new
master, and they obeyed the latter only.

Although the woman had often noticed
this, she had not hitherto been able to
make much use of the circumstance. A
custom-house officer, as a rule, only
keeps one dog, and Bistaud always had
half-a-dozen, at least, in training, with-
out reckoning a personal guard which
he kept for himself, which was the
fiercest of all. Consequently, any duel
between some lover assisted by oiJy one
dog, and the dog-breaker defended by
his pack, was impossible.

But on that occasion, the chances
were more equal. Just then he had
only five dogs in the kennel, and two of
them were quite 3roung, though cer-

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tainly old Bourreau'*' counted for sev-
eral. After ail they could risk a battle
against him and the other three, with
the two couples of the custom-house
ofl&cer, and they must profit by the

So one fine evening, as the brigadier
of the custom-house ofiacers was alone
in the shop with Bistaud's wife and
was squeezing her waist, she said to him

*'Do you really want to have some-
thing to do with me, Mossieu^ Fer-

He kissed her on the lips as he re-
plied. *'Do I really want to? I would
give my stripes for it; so you see.*'

"Very well!" she repHed, "do as I
tell you, and upon my word, as an
honest woman, I will be your commodity
to do what you like with."

And laying a stress on that word
commodity, which in that part of the
country means strumpet, she whispered
hotly into his ear:

"A commodity who knows her busi-
ness, I can tell you, for my beast of a
husband has trained me up in such a
way that I am now absolutely disgusted
vnth him."

Femand, who was much excited,
promised her everything that she wished,
and feverishly, malignantly she told him
how shamefully her husband had treated
her a short time before, how her fair
skin had been cut, and of her hatred
and thirst for revenge. The brigadier
acquiesced, and that same evening came
to the cottage accompanied by his four
hounds, with their spiked collars on.

"What are you going to do with
them?" the man with the dogs asked.

"I have come to see whether you did

not rob me, when you leased them to
me," the brigadier replied.

"What do you mean by 'robbed
you?' "

"Well, robbed! I have been told that
they could not tackle a dog like your
Bourreau, and that many smugglers have
dogs who are as good as he is."


"Well, in case any of them should
have one, I should like to see how the
dogs that you sold me could tackle

The woman laughed an evil laugh,
and her husband grew suspicious, when
lie saw that the brigadier replied to it
by a wink. But his suspicions came too
hte. The breaker had no time to go
to the kennel to let out his pack, for
Bourreau had been seized by the custom-
house ofl5cer's four dogs. At the same
time, the woman locked the door; al-
ready l::r husband was lying motion-
less on the floor, while Bourreau could
not go to his assistance, as he had
enough to do to defend himself against
the furious attack of the other dogs,
who were almost tearing him to pieces,
in spite of his strength and courage.
Five minutes later two of the attacking
hounds were totally disabled, with their
bowels protruding, but Bourreau him-
self was dyizi^, with his throat gaping.

Then the woman and the custom-
house officer kissed each other before the
breaker, whom they bound firmly. The
two dozs of the custom-house officer
that were still on their legs were pant-
ing for breath, and the other three were
wallowing in their blood. And now the

*Executioner, hangman,
t Vulgar for Monsieur.

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amorous couple were carrying on all
sorts of capers, still further excited by
the rage of the dog-breaker, who was
forced to look at them, and who shouted
in his despair:

"You wretches! you shall pay tor
this!" And the woman*s only reply
was, to say: '^Cuckoldl cuckold! cuck*

When she was tired of larking, her
hatred was not yet satisfied, and she
said to the brigadier:

"Femand, go to the kennels and shoot
the five other brutes, otherwise he will
make them kill me to-morrow. Off you
go, old fellow!"

The brigadier obeyed, and immediately
five shots were heard in the darkness; it
did not take long, but that short time
had been enough for the man with the
dogs to show what he could do. While
he was tied, the two dogs of the custom-
house officer had gradually recognized
him, and came and fondled him, and
as soon as he was alone with his wife,
as she was insulting him, he said in
his usual voice of command to the dogs:

"At her, Flanbardf at her, Garou!"
The two dogs sprang at the wretched
woman, and one seized her by the throat,
while the other caught her by the side.

When the brigadier came back, she
was dying on the ground in a pool of
blood, and the man with the dogs said
with a laugh: "There you see, that is
:he way I break in my dogs!'*

The custom-house officer rushed out
in horror, followed by his hounds, who
licked his hands as they ran, and made
them quite red.

The next morning the man with the
dogs was found still bound, but chuck*
ling, in his hovel that was turned into
a slaughter-house.

They were both arrested and tried;
the man with the dogs was acquitted,
and the brigadier sentenced to a term
of imprisonment. The matter gave much
food for talk in the district, and is in-
deed still talked about, for the man
with the dogs returned there, and is
more celebrated than ever under his
nickname. But his celebrity is not of
a bad kind, for he is now just as much
respected and liked as he was despised
and hated formerly. He is still, as a
matter of fact, the man with the dogs,
as he is rightly called, for he has not
his equal as a dog-breaker, for leagues
round. But now he no longer breaks
in mastiffs, as he has given up teaching
honest dogs to "act the part of Judas,*'
as he says, for those dirty custom-house
officers. He only devotes himself to
dogs to be used for smuggling, and he
is worth listening to, when he sajrs:

"You may depend upon it, that I
know how to punish such commodities
as she, when they have sinned? I was
glad to see my dogs tearing that strum-
pet's skin and her lying mouth."

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A Kin^s Son

The Boulevard, that river of life,
was rushing along under the golden light
of the setting sun. All the sky was red,
dazzling red; and behind the Madeleine
an immense, brilliant cloud threw into
the long avenue an oblique shower of
fire, vibrating like the rays from live

The gay crowd moved along in this
ruddy mist as if they were in an apo-
theosis. Their faces were golden; their
black hats and coats were reflect^ in
shades of purple; the varnish of their
shoes threw red lights upon the asphalt
of the sidewalks.

Before the cafSs, men were drinking
brilliantly colored drinks, which one
might take for precious stones melted in
the crystal.

In the midst of the consimiers, two
officers, in very rich uniforms, caused
all eyes to turn in their direction on
account of their gold braid and grand
bearing. They were chatting pleasantly,
without motive, rejoicing in this glory
of life, in the radiant beauty of the
evening. And they looked at the crowd
— ^at the slow men and the hurrying
women who left behind them an attrac-
tive, disturbing odor.

All at once, an enormous negro,
clothed in black, corpulent, decorated
with trinkets all over his duck waist-
coat, his face shining as if it had been
oiled, passed before them with an air of
triumph. He smiled at the passers-by,
he smiled at the venders of the news-
papers, he smiled at the shining heavens,
and the whole of Paris. He was so
large that he towered above all their
heads; and all the loungers that he left

behind him turned to contemplate his


Suddenly he perceived the officers and,
pushing aside the drinkers, he rushed
toward them. When he was before
their table, he planted upon them his
shining, delighted eyes, and, raising the
corners of his mouth to his ears, showed
his white teeth, shining like a crescent
moon in a black sky. The two men,
stupefied, looked at this ebony giant
without understanding his merriment.

Then he cried out, in a voice that
made everybody at all the tables lauj^:

"Good evenin', my Lieutenant.'*

One of the officers was chief of a
battalion, the other was a colonel, lie
first said:

*T do not know you, sir; and cannot
think what you can want of me."

The negro replied:

"Me like you much, lieutenant
V6die, siege of B6zi, much grapes, hunt
me up."

The officer, much astonished, looked
closely at the man, seeking to place him
in his memory. Suddenly he cried:


The negro, radiant, struck himself <m
his leg, uttered a most strident lau^
and bellowed:

"Yes, ya, ya, my Lieutenant, rcm«n-
ber Timbuctoo, ya, good evenin'."

The officer extended his hand, laughing |
now himself with all his heart. Then i
Timbuctoo became grave. He seized j
the officer's hand and kissed it as the
custom is in Arabia, so quickly that it
could not be stopped. In a confused
manner, the military man said to him,
his voice rather severe:

"Come, Timbuctoo, wc are not ift


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Africa. J5e seated and tell me how you
came to be here."

Timbuctoo swelled out his ample
front and stammered, from trying to
talk too quickly:

"Got much money, much, great
rest'rant, good eat, Prussians come,
much steal, much, French cooking,
Timbuctoo chef to Emperor, two hun-
dred thousand francs for me. Ah! ah!
ah! ah!''

And he laughed, twisting himself and
howling, with a perfect madness of joy
in his eye.

When the officer who comprehended
this strange language had asked him
questions for some time, he said to him:

**Well, good-bye now, Timbuctoo; I
will see you again."

The negro immediately arose, shook
the hand that was extended to him,
properly this time, and, continuing to
laugh, cried:

"Good evenin', gotd evening my

He went away so content that he
gesticulated as he walked until he was
taken for a crazy man.

The colonel asked: "Who was that

The commander responded: "A
brave boy and a brave soldier. I will
tell you what I know of him; it is
funny enough.
i» 4k 4> 4> ♦ 4> ♦

**You know that at the commencement
of the war of 1870 I was shut up in
B6zi^res, which the negro calls B6zi, We
were not besieged, but blockaded. The
Prussian lines surrounded us every-
where, beyond the reach of cannon, no
longer shootmg at us but starving us
little by little.

"I was then a lieutenant. Our garri-
son was composed of troops of every
nature, the dibris of cut-up regiments,
fugitives and marauders separated from
the body of the army. We even had
eleven Turcos arrive finally, one evening,
from no one knew where. They pre-
sented themselves at the gates of the
town, harassed, hungry, drunk, and in
tatters. They were given to me.

"I soon recognized the fact that they
were averse to all discipline, that they
were always absent and always tipsy.
I tried the police station, even the
prison, without effect. My men disap-
peared for whole days, as if they had
sunk into the earth, then reappeared in-
toxicated enough to fall. They had no
money. Where did they get their drink?
How and by what means?

"This began to puzzle me much, es»
pecially as these savages interested me
with their eternal laugh and their char-
acter, which was that of a great roguish

"I then perceived that they blindly
obeyed the biggest one of them all, the
one you have just seen. He governed
them by his will, planned their piyste-
rious enterprises, and was chief, all-
powerful and incontestable. I made him
come to my house and I questioned him.
Our conversation lasted a good three
hours, so great was my difficulty in pene-
trating his surprising mixture of tongues.
As for him, poor devil, he made the
most imheard-of efforts to be understood,
invented words, gesticulated, fairly
sweated from his difficulty, wiped his
brow, puffed, stopped, and then began
suddenly again when he thought he had
found a new means of explaining

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"I finally divined that he was the son
of a great chief, a sort of negro king
in the neighborhood of Timbuctoo. I
asked him his name. He responded
something like Chavaharibouhalikhrana-
fotapolara. It appeared simpler to me
to call him by the name of his country:
Timbuctoo.' And eight days later all
the garrison was calling him that and
nothing else.

''A foolish desire seized me of finding
out where this ex-African prince found
bis drink. And I discovered it m a
singular way.

"One morning I was on the ramparts
studying the horizon, when I perceived
something moving in a vine near by.
It was at the time of the vintage; the
grapes were ripe, but I scarcely gave
this a thought. My idea was that some
spy was approachhig the town, and I
organized an expedition complete enough
to seize the prowlers. I myself took the
command, having obtained the General's

"Three small troops were to set out
through three different gates and join
near the suspected vine to watch. In
order to cut off the retreat of any spy;
one detachment had to make a march of
an hour at least. One man remained
iqjon the wall for observation, to indi-
cate to me by a sign that the person
sought had not left the field. We pre-
served a deep silence, crawling, almost
lying in the wheel-ruts. Finally, we
reached the designated point; I suddenly
deployed my soldiers, charging them
quickly upon the vine, and found — ^Tim-
buctoo traveling along among the vine
stocks on four paws, eating grapes, or
rather snapping them up as a dog eats
his soup, l^s mouth full, of leaves, even,

snatching the bunches off with a blow
of his teeth.

*1, wished to make him get up;
there was no longer any mystery and I
comprehended why he dragged himself
along upon his hands and knees.

"When he was planted upon his feet,
he swayed back and forth for some
seconds, extending his arms and striking
his nose. He was as tipsy as any tipsy
man I have ever seen.

**'They brought him away on two poks.
He never ceased to laugh all along the
route, gesticulating with his arms and

"That was the whole of it. My merry
fellows had drunk of the grape itsdf.
Then, when they could no longer drink
and could not budge, they went to sleep
on the spot.

"As for Timbuctoo, his love for the
vine passed all belief and all measure.
He lived down there after the fashion
of the thrushes, which he hated with
the hatred of a jealous rival He re*
peated without ceasing:

"'The th'ushes eat all grapes, the

4c ♦ ♦ 4> 4> i» $

"One evening some one came to find
me. Off over the plain something
seemed to be moving toward us. I (fid
not have my glass with me, and could
not distinguish what it was. It lodged
like a great serpent rolling itself along,
or a funeral procession; how could I

"I sent some men to meet this strange
caravan, which soon appeared in triiim«
phal march. Timbuctoo and nine of his
companions were canning a sort of altar,
made of campaign chairs, upon wfaidi

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were eight cut-off heads, bloody and
grimacing. The tenth Turco dragged a
horse by the tail to which another was
attached, and six other beasts still fol-
lowed, held in the same fashion."

"This is what I learned. Having set
out for the vine, my Africans had sud-
denly perceived a detachment pf Prus-
sian soldiers approaching a neighboring
village. Instead of fleeing they con-
cealed themselves; then, when the offi-
cers put foot to the ground at an inn to
refresh themselves, the eleven merry
ones threw themselves upon them, put
to flight the uhlans who believed them-
selves attacked, killed the two sentinels,
then the Colonel and the five officers
comprising his escort.

"That day I embraced Timbuctoo.
But I also perceived that he walked with
difficulty; I believed that he was
wounded. He began to laugh and said
to me:

" *Me get p'ovisions for country.*

**It seems that Timbuctoo had not
made war for the sake of honor, but
for gain. All that he foimd, all that
appeared to him to have any value
whatever, everything that glistened, es-
pecially, he plunged into his pocket.
And what a pocket! An abyss that be-
gun at the hip and extended to the
heels. Having learned the word of a
trooper, he called it his 'profound.' It
was, in fact, his profoimd! He had
detached the gold from the Prussian uni-
forms, the copper from their helmets,
the buttons, etc., and thrown them all
into his profound, which was full to the

"Each day he cast in there every
glistening object that fell under his eye,
^-pieces of tin or pieces of money, —

which sometimes gave him an infinitely
droll figure.

"He counted on bringing things back
like an ostrich, which he resembled like
a brother, — this son of.a king tortured
by a desire to devour these shining
bodies. If he had not had his profound,
v/hat would he have done? Doubtless
he would have swallowed them.

"Each morning his pocket was empty.
He had a kind of general store where he
heaped up his riches. Where? No one
could ever discover.

"The General, foreseeing the uproar
that Timbuctoo had created, had the
bodies quickly interred in a neighboring
village, before it was discovered that
they had been decapitated. The Prus-
sians came the next day. The mayor
and seven distinguished inhabitants were
shot immediately, as it had been learned
through informers that they had de-
nounced the Germans.
♦ ♦ 4> ♦ ♦ 4> ♦

"The winter had come. We were
harassed and desperate. There was
fighting now, every day. The starved
men could no longer walk. The eight
Turks alone (three had been killed)
were fat and shining, vigorous and al-
ways ready for battle. Timbuctoo even
grew stout. He said to me one day:

"*You much hungry, me good food.'

"In fact, he brought me an excellent
fillet. Of what? We had neither
beeves, sheep, goats, asses, nor pigs. It
was impossible for him to procure a
horse. I reflected upon all this after
having devoured my viand. Then, a
terrible thought came to me. These
negroes were bom near a country where
they ate men! And every day soldiers
were falling all about them I I ques-

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iicmed Umbuctoo. He did not wish to
^ay aDything. I did not insist, but
henceforth I ate no more of his presents.

"He adored me. One night Uie snow
overtook us at the outposts. We were
seated on the ground. I looked with
pity upon the poor negroes shivering
under this white, freezing powder. As
I was very cold, I began to cough.
Immediately, I felt something close
around me like a great warm cover. It
was Timbuctoo's mantle, which he had
thrown around my shoulders.

"I arose and returned the garment to
b'm, saying:

" 'Keep it, my boy, you have more
need of it than I.*

"He answered: *No, no, my Lieu-
tenant, for you, me not need, me hot,

''And he looked at me with suppliant
eyes. I replied:

"'Come obey, keep, your mantle; I
wish it.'

"The negro arose, drew his saber
which he knew how to make cut like a
scythe, held in the other the large cloak
that I had refused and said :

" *So you not take mantle, me cut; no

"He would have done it. I yielded,
m >K ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 4>

"Eight days later we had capitulated.
Some among us had been able to get
away. The others were going out of the
town and giving themselves up to the

"I directed my steps toward the

Armory, where we were to reunite, when
I met face to face a negro giant clothed
in white duck and wearing a straw cap.
It was Timbuctoo. He seemed radiant
and walked along, his hands in his
pockets, until we came to a little shop,
where in the window there were two
plates and two glasses.

"I asked him: 'What are you doing

"He responded:

"'Me not suffer, me good cook, me
make Colonel Algeie to eat, me feed
Prussians, steal much, much.'

"The mercury stood at ten degrees. I
shivered before this negro in white duck
Then he took me by the arm and made
me enter. There I perceived a huge sign
that he was going to hang up before his
door as soon as I had gone out, for he
had some modesty. I read, traced by
the hand of some accomplice, these
words :



Formerly caterer to H. M. the Emperor.

Paris Artist. Prices Moderate.'

"In spite of the despair which was
gnawing at my heart, I could not he^
laughing, and I left my negro to his
new business. It would have availed
nothing to have him taken prisoner.

"You see how he has succeeded, the
rascal, Bezieres to-day belongs to Ger-
many. Timbuctoo's restauic;\| was tbi
beginning of revenge."

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Mohammed FripouU

"Shall we have our coffee- on tbe
roof?" asked the captain.

I answered:

"Yes, certainly."

He rose. It was already dark in the
room which was lighted only by the in-
terior court, after the fashion of Moorish
houses. Before the high, ogive win-
dows, convolvulus vines hung from the
gnat terrace, where they passed the hot
summer evenings. There only remained
upon the table some grapes, big as plums,
some fresh figs of a violet hue, some
yellow pears, some long, plump bananas,
and some Tougourt dates in a basket
of alfa.

The Moor who waited on them opened
the door and I went upstairs to the azure
walls which received from above the
soft light of the dying day.

And soon I gave a deep sigh of
happiness, on reaching the terrace. It
overlooked Algiers, the harbor, the road-
stead, and the distant shores.

The house, bought by the captain,
was a former Arab residence, situated in
the midst of the old city, among those
labyrinthine little streets, where swarm
the strange population of the African

Beneath us, the flat, square roofs
descended, like steps of giants, to the
pointed roofs of the European quarter
of the city. Behind these miight be
perceived the flags of the boats at
anchor, then the sea, the open sea, blue
and calm under the blue and calm sky.

Online LibraryGuy de MaupassantThe complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant → online text (page 114 of 125)