Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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"I would stake my head on it."

**Well, after all it is possible, and
even probable; it is even certain. I
now remember."

And I again saw the insulting, fero-
cious, familiar look which she had given
the superintendent.

'And who is La Frieze?" I asked the
magistrate suddenly. "I suppose you
know that also?"

"He is a retired butcher, who had
both his legs frozen in the war of 1870,
and of whom she is very fond. No
doubt he is a cripple, with two wooden
legs, but still a vigorous man enough,
in spite of his fifty-three years. The
loins of a Hercules, and the face of a

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satyr. The superintendent is quite
jealous of him!"

I thought the matter over again, and
it seemed very probable to me. "Does
she love La Frieze?**

**Yes, he is the chosen lover."

When we arrived at the host's house a
short time afterward, we were surprised
to find everybody in a terrible state of
excitement. A crime had been com-
mitted in the asylum; the gendarmes
were there and our host was with them,
so we instantly joined them. La Frieze
had murdered the superintendent, and
they gave us the details, which were
horrible. The former butcher had hid-
den behind a door, and catching hold of
the other, had rolled on to the ground
with him and bitten him in the throat,
tearing out his carotid artery, from
which the blood spurted into the mur-
derer's face.

I saw him, La Frie:ie, His fat face,
which had b3en badly washed, was still
blood stained; he had a low forehead,
square jaws, pointed ears, cticking out
from his head, and flat nostrils, like the
muzzle of some wild ani nal; but above
all, I saw Babette.

She was smiling, and ?-t that moment,
her eyes had not their monkey-like and
ferocious expression; they were pleading
and tender, full of the sweetest child-
like candor.

"You know," my host said to me in a
low voice, "that the poor woman has
fallen into senile imbecility, and that is
the cause of her looks, which are strange.

considering the terrible si^t she has

"Do you think so?" the magistrate
said. "You must remember that she is
not yet sixty, and I do not think that
it is a case of senile imbecility, but that
she is quite conscious of the ciime that
has been committed."

"Then why should she smile?"

"Because she is i^eased at what she
has done."

"Oh! no, you are really too subtle!"

The magistrate suddenly turned to
Babette, and, looking at her steadily, he

"I suppose you know what has hap-
pened, and why tibis crime was com-

She left off smiling, and her pretty,
childlike eyes became abominable mon-
key's eyes again, and then the answer
was suddenly to pull up her petticoats
and to show us the lo^er part of her
limbs. Yes, the magistrate had been
quite right. That old woman had been
a Cleopatra, a Diana, a Ninon de
FEnclos, and the rest of her body had
remained like a child's even more than
her eyes. We were thunderstruck at
the sight.

"Pigs! pigs!" La Frieze shouted to us,
"you also want to have something to
do with her!"

And I saw that actually the magis-
trate's face was pale and contracted, and
that his hands and lips trembled like
those of a man caught in the act of
doing wrong.

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A Cock Crowed

Madame Bertha d'Avancelles had
up till that time resisted all the prayers
of her despairing adorer, Baron Joseph
de Croissard. He had pursued her- ar-
dently in Paris during the winter, and
now he was giving fetes and shooting
parties in her honor at his chateau at
Carville, in Normandy.

Monsieur d'Avancelles, her husband,
saw nothing and knew nothing, as usual.
It was said that he lived apart from
his wife on account of a physical weak-
ness for which Madame d'Avancelles
would not pardon him. He was a short,
stout, bald man, with short arms, legs,
neck, nose, and very ugly, while Ma-
dame d'Avancelles, on the contrary, was
a tall, dark, and determined yoimg
woman, who laughed in her husband's
face with sonorous peals, while he called
her openly "Mrs. Housewife." She
looked at the broad shoulders, strong
build, and fair mustaches of her titled
admirer. Baron Joseph de Croissard,
with a certain amount of tenderness.

She had not, however, granted him
an3^hing as yet. The baron was ruin-
ing himself for her, and there was a
constant round of fating, huntmg
parties, and new pleasures, to which
he invited the neighboring nobility. All
day long the hounds gave tongue in the
woods, as they followed the fox or the
wild boar, and every night dazzling
fireworks mingled their burning plumes
with the stars, while the illuminated
windows of the drawing-room cast long
rays of light on to the wide lawns,
where shadows were moving to and fro.

It was autumn, the russet-colored sea-
son of the year, and the leaves were
whirling about on the grass like flights

of birds. One noticed the smell of damp
earth in the air, of the naked earth, like
one scents the odor of the bare skin,
when a woman's dress falls off her, after

One evening, in the previous spring,
during an entertainment, Madame
d'Avancelles had said to Monsieur de
Croissard, who was worrying her by his
importimities: "If I do succumb to you,
my friend, it will not be before the fall
of the leaf. I have too many things to
do this summer to have any time for
it.** He had not forgotten that bold and
amusing speech, and every day he be-
came more pressing, every day he pushed
his approaches nearer, — ^to use a military
phrase, — ^and gained a hold on the heart
of the fair, audacious woman, who
seemed only to be resisting for form's

It was the day before a large wild-
boar hunt, and in the evening Madame
Bertha said to the baron with a laugh:
"Baron, if you kill the brute, I shall
have something to say to you." And
so at dawn he was up and out, to try
and discover where the solitary animal
had its lair. He accompanied his himts-
men, settled the places for the relays,
and organized everything personally to
insure his triumph. When the horns
gave the signal for setting out, he ap-
peared in a closely fitting coat of scarlet
and gold, with his waist drawn in tight,
his chest expanded, his eyes radiant, and
as fresh and strong as if he had just got
out of bed. They set off; the wild boar
bolted through the underwood as soon
as he was dislodged, followed by the
hounds in full cry, while the horses
set off at a gallop through the narrow


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side-cuts in the forest. The carriages
which followed the chase at a distance
drove noiselessly along the soft roads.

From mischief, Madame d'Avancelles
kept the baron by her side, lagging be-
hind at a walk in an interminably long
and straight drive, over which four rows
of oaks hung, so as to form almost an
arch, while he, trembling with love and
anxiety, listened with one ear to the
young woman's bantering chatter, and
with the other to the blast of the horns
and to the cry of the hounds as they
receded in the distance.

"So you do not love me any longer?"
she observed.

"How can you say such things?" he

And she continued: "But you seem
to be paying more attention to the sport
than to me."

He groaned, and said: "Did you not
order me to kill the animal myself?"

And she replied gravely: "Of course
I reckon upon it. You must kill it un-
der my eyes."

Then he trembled in his saddle,
spurred his horse until it reared and,
losing all patience, exclaimed: "But, by
Jove, Madame, that is impossible if we
remain here."

Then she spoke tenderly to him, lay-
ing her hand on his arm, or stroking
bis horse's mane, as if from abstraction,
and said with a laugh: "But you must
do it— or else, so much the worse for

Just then they turned to the right,
into a narrow path which was overhung
by trees, and suddenly, to avoid a
branch which barred their way, she
leaned toward him so closely, that he
fdt iier hair tickling his neck. Sud-

denly he threw his arms brutally round
her, and putting his heavily mustached
mouth to her forehead, he gave her a
furious kiss.

At first she did not move, and re-
mained motionless under that mad ca-
ress; then she turned her head with a
jerk, and either by accident or design
her little lips met his, under their wealth
of light hair, and a moment afterward,
either from confusion or remorse, she
struck her horse with her riding-whip,
and went off at full gallop, and they rode
on like that for some time, without ex-
changing a look.

The noise of the hunt came nearer,
the thickets seemed to tremble, and
suddenly the wild boar broke through
the bushes, covered with blood, and
trying to shake off the hounds who had
fastened on to him, and the baron, utter-
ing a shout of triumph exclaimed:
"Let him who loves me follow me!"
And he disappeared in the copse, as if
the wood had swallowed him up.

When she reached an open glade a
few minutes later, he was just getting
up, covered with mud, his coat torn,
and his hands bloody, while the brute
was lying stretched out at full length,
with the baron's hunting-knife driven
into its shoulder up to the hilt.

The quarry was cut at night by torch-
light. It was a warm and dull evening,
and the wan moon threw a yellow light
on to the torches which made the night
misty with their resinous smoke. The
hounds devoured the wild boar's en-
trails, and snarled and fought for them,
while the prickers and the gentlemen,
standing in a circle round the spoil,
blew their horns as loud as they could.
The flourish of the hunting-homs re-

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sounded beyond the woods on that still
night and was repeated by the echoes
of the distant valleys, awaking the timid
stags, rousing the yelping foxes and dis-
turbing the little rabbits in their gambols
at the edge of the rides.

The frightened nightbirds flew over
the eager pack of hounds, while the
women, who were moved by all these
strangely picturesque things, leaned
rather heavily on the men's arms, and
turned aside into the forest rides, before
the hounds had finished their ^leaI.
Madame d'Avancelles, feeling languid
after that day of fatigue and tender-
ness, said to the baron: '"Will you take
a turn in the park, my friend?'* And
without replying, but trembling and
nervous, he went with her, and imme-
diately they kissed each other. They
walked slowly under the almost leafless
trees through which the moonbeams
filtered, and their love, their desires,
their longing for a closer embrace be-
came so vehement, that they nearly
yielded to it at the foot of a tree.

The horns were not sounding any
longer, and the tired hounds were sleep-
ing in the kennels. *Xet us return,"
the young woman said, and they went

When they got to the ch&teau and be-
fore they went in, she said in a weak
voice: "I am so tired that I shall go
to bed, my friend." And as he opened
his arms for a last kiss, she ran away,
saying as a last good-bye: "No — ^I am
going to sleep. Let him who loves me
follow me!"

An hour later, when the whole silent
chateau seemed dead, the baron crept
stealthily out of his room, and went and
scratched at her door. As she did not

reply, he tried to open it, and found
that it was not locked.

She was in a reverie, resting her arms
against the window ledge. He threw
himself at her knees, which he kissed
madly, through her dress. She said
nothing, but buried her delicate fingers
caressingly in his hair, and suddenly, as
if she had formed some great resolution,
whispered with a daring look: "I
shall come back, wait for me." And
stretching out her hand, she pointed
with her finger to an indistinct white
spot at the end of the room; it was her

Then, with trembling hands and
scarcely knowing what he was doing, he
quickly undressed, got into the cool
sheets, and stretching himself out com-
fortably, almost forgot his love in the
pleasure he foimd, tired out as he was,
in the contact of the linen. She did
not return, however, no doubt finding
amusement in making him languish. He
closed his eyes with a feeling of ex-
quisite comfort, and reflected peaceably
while waiting for what he so ardently
longed for. But by degrees his limbs
grew languid and his thoughts became
indistinct and fleeting, until his fatigue
gained the upper hand and he fell

He slept that unconquerable, heavy
sleep of the worn-out hunter, slept
through until daylight. Then, as the
window had remained half open, the
crowing of a cock suddenly woke him.
The baron opened his eyes, and feeling
a woman's body against his — finding
himself, much to his surprise, in a
strange bed, and remembering nothing
for the moment — ^he stammered:

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What is the


•What? Where am I?

Then she, who had not been asleep at
all, looking at this unkempt man with

haughty tone of voice in which she
occasionally spoke to her husband:

"It is nothing; it is only a cock crow-
ing. Go to sleep again Monsieur, it has

red eyes and swollen lips replied in the nothing to do with you."

Lilie Lata

"When I saw her for the first time,"
Louis d'Arandel said, with the look of
a man who was dreaming and trying to
recollect something, "I thought of some
slow and yet passionate music that I
once heard, though I do not remember
who was the composer. It told of a fair-
haired woman, whose hair was so silky,
so golden, and so vibrating that her
lovet had it cut off after her death, and
had the strings of the magic bow of a
violin made out of it, which afterward
emitted such superhuman complaints
and love melodies, that they made its
hearers love imtil death.

"In her eyes there lay the mystery of
deep waters; one was lost in them,
drowned in them like in fathomless
depths, and at the corners of her mouth
there lurked the despotic and merciless
smile of those women who do not fear
that they may be conquered, who rule
over men like cruel queens, whose hearts
remain as virgin as those of the strictest
Carmelite nuns, amid a flood of lewd-

"I have seen her angelic head, the
bands of her hair which looked like
plates of gold, her tall, gracefull figure,
her white, slender, childish hands, in
stained glass windows in churches. She
stiggested pictures of the Annunciation,

where the Archangel Gabriel descends
with ultramarine colored wings, and
Mary is sitting at her spinning wheel
and spinning, while uttering pious
prayers, seemingly a tall sister to the
white lilies that are growing beside her
and the roses.

"When she went tnrough the acacia
alley, she appeared on some first night
in the stage box at on.e of the theaters,
nearly always alone, and apparently
feeling life a great burden, and angry
because she could not change the etem^d,
dull round of himian enjoyment, nobody
would have believed that she went in
for a fast life — that in the annals of
gallantry she was catalogued under the
strange name of "Lilie Lala," and that
no man could nib against her without
being irretrievably caught, and spend-
ing his last halfpenny on her.

"But with all that, Lilie had the voice
of a school-girl, of some little innocent
creature who still uses a skipping rope
and wears short dresses, and had that
clear, innocent laugh which reminds peo-
ple of wedding bells. Sometimes, for
fun, I would kneel down before her, like
before the statue of a saint, and clasp-
ing my hands as if in prayer, I used to
say: 'Sancta Lilie, or a pro nobis!*

"One evening, at Biarritz, when the

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sky had the dull glare of intense heat
and the sea was of a sinister, inky
black, and was swelling and rolling in
enormous phosphorescent waves on the
beach at Port-Vieux, Lilie, who was
listless and strange, and was making
holes in the sand with the heels of her
boots, suddenly exclaimed in one of
those confidences which women some-
times bestow, and for which they are
sorry as soon as the story is told:

" 'Ah! My dear fellow, I do not de-
serve to be canonized, and my life is
rather a subject for a drama than a
chapter from the Gospels or the "Golden
Legend.'* As long as I can remember
anything, I can remember being wrapped
in lace, being carried by a woman, and
continually being fussed over, as are
children who have been long waited for,
and who are consequently spoiled more
than usual.

** 'Those kisses were so nice, that I
still seem to feel their sweetness, and I
shrine the remembrance of them in a lit-
tle place in my heart, as one preserves
some lucky talisman in a reliquary. I
still seem to remember an indistinct
landscape lost in the mist, outlines of
trees which frightened me as they
creaked and groaned in the wind, and
ponds on which swans were sailing.
And when I lock in the glass for a long
time, merely for the sake of seeing my-
self, it seems to me as if I recognize the
woman who formerly used to kiss me
most frequently, and speak to me in a
more loving voice than anyone else did.
But what happened afterward?

" 'Was I carried off, or sold to some
strolling circus owner by a dishonest
servant? I do not know, I have never
been able to find out; but I remember

that my whole childhood was spent in a
circus which traveled from fair to fair,
and from place to place, with files of
vans, processions of animals, and noisy

" 1 was as tiny as an insect, and they
taught me difficult tricks, to dance on
the tight-rope and to perform on the
slack-rope. I was beaten as if I had
been a bit of plaster, and more fre-
quently I had a piece of dry bread to
gnaw than a slice of meat. But I re-
member that one day I slipped under
one of the vans, and stole a basm of
soup as my share, which one of the
clowns was carefully making for his
three learned dogs.

" 'I had neither friends nor relations;
I was employed on the dirtiest jobs, like
the lowest <4table-help, and I was tat-
tooed with bruises and scars. Of the
whole company, however, the one who
beat me the most, who was the least
sparing of his thumps, and who con-
tinually made me suffer, as if it gave
him pleasure, was the manager and
proprietor, a kind of old, vicious brute,
whom everybody feared like the plague,
a miser who was continually complain-
ing of the receipts, who hid away the
crown pieces in his mattress, invested
his money in the funds, and cut down
the salaries of all, as far as he could.

" 'His name was Rapha Ginestous.
Any other child but myself would have
succumbed to such a constant martyr-
dom, but I grew up, and the more I
grew, the prettier and more desirable I
became, so that when I was fifteen, men
were already beginning to write love
letters to me, and to throw bouquets to
me in the arena. I felt also that all the
men in the company were watching me,

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aud were coveting me as their prey;
that their lustful looks rested on my
pink tights, and followed the graceful
outlines of my body when I was posing
on the rope that stretched from one
end of the circus to the other, or jumped
through the paper hoops at full gallop.

"They were no longer the same, and
spoke to me in a totally different tone
of voice. They tried to come into my
dressing-room when I was changing my
dress, and Kapha Ginestous seemed to
have lost his head, and his heart
throbbed audibly when he came near
me. Yes, he had the audacity to pro-
pose bargains to me which covered my
cheeks and forehead with blushes, and
which filled me with disgust i and as I
felt a fierce hatred for him, and detested
him with all my soul and all my strength
— as I wished to make him suffer the
tortures which he had inflicted on me, a
hundredfold, I used him as the target at
which I was constantly aiming.

" ^Instinctively, I employed every
cunning perfidy, every artful coquetry,
every lie, every artifice that can unset
the strongest and most sceptical, and
place them at our mercy, like submis-
sive animals. He loved me, he really
loved me, that lascivious goat, who had
never seen anything in a woman except
a soft couch, and an instrument of con-
venience and of f orgetfulness. He loved
me like old men do love, with frenzy,
with degrading transports, and with the
prostration of his will and of his
strength. I held him as in a leash, and
did whatever I liked with him.

" *I was much more manageress than
he was manager, and the poor wretch
wasted away in vain hopes and in use-
less transports; he had not even touched

the tips of my fingers, and was reduced
to bestowing his caresses on my colum*
bine shoes, my tights, and my wigs.
And I cared not that for it, you under,
stand! Not the slightest familiarity
did I allow, and he began to grow thin
and ill, and became idiotic. And while
he implored me, and promised to marry
me, with his eyes full of tears, I shouted
with laughter; I reminded him of how
he had beaten, abused, and humiliated
me, and had often made me wish for
death. And as soon as he left me, he
would swill bottles of gin and whiskey,
and constantly got so abominably drunk
that he rolled under the table, and all to
drown -his sorrow and forget his desire.

" *He covered me with jewels, and
tried everything he could to tempt me
to become his wife. In spite of my in-
experience in life, he consulted me with
regard to everything he undertook, and
one evening, after I had stroked his face
with my hand, I persuaded him without
any difficulty, to make his will, by which
he left me all his savings, and the circus
and everything belonging to it.

" *It was in the middle of winter, neai
Moscow; it snowed continually, and
one almost burnt oneself at the stoves
in trying to keep warm. Rapha Gines-
tous had had supper brought into the
largest van, which was his, after the
performance, and for hours we ate and
drank. I was very nice toward him, and
filled his glass every moment; I even
sat on his knee and kissed him. And
all his love, and the fumes of the al-
cohol of the wine, mounted to his head,
and gradually made him so helplessly
intoxicated, that he fell from his chair
inert, as if h^ had been struck by lig^Ht^

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ning, without opening his eyes or saying
a word.

" 'The rest of the troupe were asleep,
the lights were out in all the little win-
dows, and not a sound was to be heard,
while the snow continued to fall in large
flakes. So having put out the petroleum
lamp, I opened the door, and taking
the drunkard by the feet, as if he had
been a bale of goods, I threw him out
into that white shroud.

" *The next morning the stiff and con-
vulsed body of Rapha Ginestous was
picked up, and as everybody knew his

inveterate drinking habits, no one
thought of instituting an inquiry, or of
accusing me of a crime. Thus was I
avenged, and gained a yearly income of
nearly fifteen thousand francs.* What,
after all, is the good of being honest,
and of pardoning our enemies, as the
Gospel bids us?'

"And now," Louis d^Arandel said in
conclusion, "suppose we go and have a
cocktail or two at the Casino, for I do
not think that I have ever talked so
much in my life before."

♦About $3000.

A Vagabond

For more than a month Randel had
been walking, seeking for work every-
where. He had left his native place,
Ville-Avary, in the department of La
Manche, because there was no work to
be had. He was a journeyman carpen-
ter, twenty-seven years old, a steady
fellow and good workman, but for two
months, he, the eldest son, had been
obliged to live on his family, wifth
nothing to do but loaf in the general
stoppage of work. Bread was getting
scarce with them; the two sisters went
DUt as charwomen, but earned little,
jind he, Jacques Randel, the strongest
of them all, did nothing because he had
nothing to do, and ate the others' bread.

Then he went and inquired at the
town-hall, and the mayor's secretary told
him that he would find work at the
Labor-Center. So he started, well pro-
vided with papers and certificates, and
carrying another pair of shoes, a pair of

trousers, and a shirt in a blue handkel^
chief at the end of his stick.

He had walked almost without stop-
ping, day and night, along interminable
roads, in the sun and rain, without ever
reaching that mysterious country where
workmen find work. At first he had the
fixed idea that he must only work at bis

Online LibraryGuy de MaupassantThe complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant → online text (page 18 of 125)