Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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driven from the furnished lodgings the
next morning, where they told him that
tall Fanny was m jail, began his
wretched vagabond life in the streets
again, with only the twelve francs to de-
pend on.
ii ♦****♦

Fifteen years afterward, the news-
papers announced one morning that the
famous Panny Clariet, the celebrated
'^horizontal," whose caprices had caused
% revolution m high life, that queen of
U beauties for whom three men had



committed suicide, and so many others
had ruined themselves, that incompar-
able living statue^ who had attracted all
Paris to the theater where she imper-
sonated Venus in her transparent skin
tights, made of woven air and a knitted
nothing, had been shut up in a lunatic
asylum. She had been seized suddenly;
it was an attack of general paralysL*^,
and as her debts were enormous, when
her estate had been liquidated, she
would have to end her days at La
Salpetri^re.

"No, certainly not!" Francois Guer-
land, the painter, said to himself, when
he read the notice of it in the papers.
"No, the great Fanny shall certainly not
end like that." For it was certainly she;
there could be no doubt about it. For a
long time after she had shown him that
act of charity, which he could never
forget, the child had tried to see his
benefactress again. But Paris is a very
mysterious place, and he himself had
had many adventures before he grew up
to be a man, and, eventually, almost
somebody! But he only found her in
the distance; he had recognized her at
the theater, on the stage, or as she was
getting into her carriage, whidi was fit
for a princess. And how could he ap*
proach her then? Could he remind her
of the time when her price was five
francs? No, assuredly not; and so he
had followed her, thanked her, and
blessed her, from a distance.

But now the time had come for him
to pay his debt and he paid it. Alt!hough
tolerably well known as a painter with
a future in store for him, he was not
rich. But what did that matter? He



♦A orison in Paris.



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A NORMANDY JOKE



155



mortgaged that future which people
prophesied for him, and gave himself
over, hand and foot, to a picture-dealer.
Then he had the poor woman taken to
an excellent asylum where she could
have not only every care, but every
necessary comfort and even luxury.
Alas! however, general paralysis never
forgives. Sometimes it releases its prey,
like the cruel cat releases the mouse,
for a brief moment only to lay hold of
it again later, more fiercely than ever.
Fanny had that period of abatement in
her symptoms, and one morning the
physician was able to say to the young
man: "You are anxious to remove her?
Very well! But you will soon have to
bring her back, for the cute is only ap-
parent, and her present state will only^
endure for a month, at most, and then
only if the patient is kept free from
every excitement and excess!"

"And without that precaution?"
Guerland asked him.

"Then," the doctor replied; "the final
crisis will be all the nearer; that is all.
But whether it would be nearer or more
remote, it will not be the less fatal."

"You are sure of that?"

"Absolutely sure."

Frangois Guerland took tall Fanny
out of the asylum, installed her in
splendid apartments, and went to live



with her there. She had grown old,
bloated, with white hair, and sometimes
wandered in her mind, and she did not
recognize in him the poor little lad on
whom she had taken pity in the days
gone by, nor did he remind her of the
circumstances. He allowed her to be-
lieve that she was adored by a rich
young man, who was passionately de-
voted to her. He was young, ardent,
and caressing. Never had a mistress
such a lover, and for three weeks be-
fore she relapsed into the horrors of
madness, which were happily soon ter-
minated by her death, she intoxicated
herself with the ecstasy of his kisses,
and thus bade farewell to conscient life
m an apotheosis of love.
, * * * ♦ * * ♦

The other day at dessert, after an ar-
tists* dinner, they were speaking of
Frangois Guerland, whose last picture
at the Salon had been so deservedly
praised. '

"Ah I yes,'* one of them said with a
contemptuous voice and look — "That
handsome fellow Guerland!"

And another, accentuating the insinua^
tion, added boldly: "Yes, that is
exactly it! That handsome, too hand-
some fellow Guerland, the man who al-
lows himself to be kept by women."



A Normandy Joke



The procession came in sight in the
hollow road which was shaded by the
tall trees which grew on the slopes of
the farm. The newly-married couole



came first, then the relations, then the
invited guests, and lastly the poor of
the neighborhood while the village ur-
chins, who hovered about the narrow



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156



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



road like flies, ran in and out of the
ranks, or climbed up the trees to see it
better.

The bridegroom was a good-looking
young fellow, Jean Patu, the richest
farmer in the neighborhood. Above all
things, he was an ardent sportiman who
seemed to lose all common sense in or-
der to satisfy that passion, who spent
large sums on his dogs, his keepers, his
ferrets, and his guns. The bride, Rosalie
Roussel, had been courted by all the
likely young fellows in the district, for
they all thought her prepossessing and
they knew that she would have a good
dowry, but she had chosen Patu — partly,
perhaps, because she liked him better
than she did the others, but still more,
like a careful Normandy girl, because
he had more crown pieces. *

When they went in at the white gate-
way of the husband's farm, forty shots
resounded without any one seeing those
who fired. The shooters were hidden in
the ditches, and the noise seemed to
I^ease the men, who were sprawling
about heavily in their best clothes, very
much. Patu left his wife, and running
up to a farm servant whom he perceived
behind a tree, he seized his gun, and fired
a shot himself, kicking his heels about
like a colt. Then they went on, beneath
the apple-trees heavy with fruit, through
the high grass and through the herd
of calves, who looked at them with
their great eyes, got up slowly and re-
mained standing with their muzzles
turned toward the wedding party.

The men became serious when they
came within measurable distance of the
wedding-dinner. Some of them, the rich
ones, had on tall, shining silk hats,
Whicli seemed altogether out of place



there; others had old head-coverings
with a long nap, which might have been
taken for moleskin, while the humbler
among them wore caps. All the women
had on shawls, which they wore as loose
wraps, holding the ends daintily under
their arms. They were red, parti-
colored, flaming shawls, and their bright-
ness seemed to astonish the black fowls
on the dung-heap, the ducks on the side
of the pond, and the pigeons on the
thatched roofs.

The extensive farm-buildings awaited
the party at the end of that archway of
apple-trees, and a sort of vapor came
out of open door and windows, an al-
most overwhelming smell of eatables,
which permeated the vast building, issu-
^ ing from its openings and even from its
very walls. The string of guests ex-
tended through the yard; when the fore-
most of them reached the house, they
broke the chain and dispersed, while be-
hind they were still coming in at the
open gate. ITie ditches were now lined
with urchins and poor curious peo|^e.
The shots did not cease, but came from
every side at once, injecting a cloud of
smoke, and that powdery smell which
has the same intoxicating effects as
absinthe, into the atmosphere.

The women were shaking their dresses
outside the door to get rid of the dust,
were undoing their cap strings and fold-
ing their shawls over their arms. Then
they went into the house to lay them
aside altogether for the time. The table
was laid in the great kitchen, whidi
could hold a hundred persons; they sat
down to dinner at two o'clock and at
eight o'clock they were still eating;* the
men, in their shirt sleeves, with their
waistcoats unbuttoned, and with red



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A NORMANDY JOKE



15'/,



faces, were swallowing the food and
drink as if they were insatiable. The
cider sparkled merrily, clear and golden
in the large glasses, by the side of the
dark, blood-colored wine, and between
every dish they made the trou, the Nor-
mandy trou, with a glass of brandy
which inflamed the body, and put foolish
notions into the head.

From time to time, one of the guests,
being as full as a barrel, would go out
for a few moments to get a mouthful of
fresh air, as they said, and then return
with redoubled appetite. The farmers'
wives, with scarlet faces and their cor-
sets nearly bursting, did not like to fol-
low their example, until one of them,
feeling more imcomfortable than the
others, went out. Then all the rest
followed her example, and came back
quite ready for any fun, and the rough
jokes began afresh. Broadsides of doubt-
ful jokes were exchanged across the
table, all about the wedding-night, until
the whole arsenal of peasant wit was
exhausted. For the last hundred years,
the same broad jokes had served for
similar occasions, and although every-
one knew them, they still hit the mark,
and made both rows of guests roar with
laughter.

At the bottom of the table four young
fellows, who were neighbors, were pre-
paring some practical jokes for the
newly-married couple, and they seemed
to have got hold of a good one, by the
way they whispered and laughed. Sud-
denly, one of them profiting by a mo-
ment of silence, exclaimed: "The
poachers will have a good time to-night
with this moon! I say, Jean, you will
not be looking at the moon, will you?"
The bridegroom turned to him quickly



and replied: "(Xily let them come,
that's all!'' But the other young fel-
low began to laugh, and said : "I do not
think you will neglect your duty for
them!"

The whole table was convulsed with
laughter, so that the glasses shook, but
the bridegroom became furious at the
thought that anybody should profit by
his wedding to come and poach on his
land, and repeated: "I only say: just
let them come!"

Then there was a flood of talk with
a double meaning which made the bride
blush somewhat, although she was trem-
bling with expectation, and when they
had emptied the kegs of brandy they all
went to bed. The young couple went
into their own room, which was on the
ground floor, as most rooms in farm-
houses are. As it was very warm, they
opened the windows and closed the
shutters. A small lamp in bad taste, a
present from the bride's father, was
burning on the chest of drawers, and the
bed stood ready to receive the young
people, who did not stand upon all the
ceremony which is usual among refined
people.

The young woman had already taken
off her wreath and her dress, and was in
her petticoat, unlacing her boots, while
Jean was finishing his cigar, and looking
at her out of the comers of his eyes.
It was an ardent look, more sensual than
tender, for he felt more desire than
love for her. Suddenly with a brusque
movement, like a man who is going to
set to work, he took off his coat. She
had already taken off her boots, and was
now pulling off her stockings; then she
said to him : "Go and hide yourself be-
hind the curtains while I get into bed."



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



He seemed as if he were going to re-
fuse, but with a cunning look went and
hid himself with the exception of his
head. She laughed and tried to cover
up his eyes, and they romped in an
amorous and happy manner, without
shame or embarrassment. At last he did
as she asked him, and in a moment she
unfastened her petticoat which slipped
down her legs, fell at her feet and lay on
the floor in a circle. She left it there,
stepped over it, naked with the excep-
tion of her floating chemise, and slipped
into the bed, whose springs creaked
beneath her weight. He immediately
went up to her, without his shoes and in
his trousers, and stopping over his wife
sought her lips, which she hid beneath
the pillow, when a shot was heard in the
distance, in the direction of the forest
of Rapees, as he thought.

He raised himself anxiously, and run-
ning to the window, with his heart beat-
ing, he opened the shutters. The full
moon flooded the yard with yellow light,
and the silhouettes of the apple-trees
made black shadows at his feet, while in
the distance the fields gleamed, covered
with the ripe com. But as he was leanmg
out, listening to every sound in the still
night, two bare arms were put round his
neck, and his wife whispered, trying to
pull hira back: "Do leave them alone;
it has nothing to do with you. Come
to bed.*'

He tinned round, put his arms round
her, and drew her toward him, feeling
her warm skin through the thin ma-
terial, and lifting her up in his vigorous
arms, he carried her toward their couch,
but just as he was laying her on the bed,
which yielded beneath her weight, they
heard another report, considerably nearer



this time. Jean, giving way to his
tumultuous rage, swore aloud: "Good
God! Do you think I shall not go out
and see what it is, because of you?
Wait, wait a few minutes!" He put on
his shoes again, took down his gun,
which was always hanging within reach
upon the wall, and, as his wife threw
herself on her knees in her terror to im-
plore him not to go, he hastily freed
himself, ran to the window and jumped
into the yard.

She waited one hour, two hours, untfl
daybreak, but her husband did not re-
turn. Then she lost her head, aroused
the house, related how angry Jean was,
and said that he had gone after the
poachers, and immediately all the male
farm-servants, even the boys, went in
search of their master. They found him
two leagues from the farm, tied hand
and foot, half dead with rage, his gun
broken, his trousers turned inside out,
three dead hares hanging round his neck,
and a placard on his chest, with these
words:

"Who goes on the chase, loses his
place."

And later on when he used to tell
this story of his wedding night, he gen-
erally added: "Ah! As far as a joke
went, it was a good joke. They caught
me in a snare, as if I had been a rabbit,
the dirty brutes, and they shoved my
head into a bag. But if I can only
catch them some day, they had better
look out^for themselves!"

That is how they amuse themselves zn
Normandy, on a wedding day.



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The Father



1.

As HE lived at Batignolles and was a
derk in the Public Education Office, he
took the omnibus every morning to the
center of Paris,- sitting opposite a girl
with whom he fell in love.

She went to the shop where she was
employed at the same time every day.
She was a little brunette, one of those
dark girls whose eyes are so dark that
they look like spots, and whose com-
I^exion has a look like ivory. He al-
ways saw her coming at the comer of
the same street. She generally ran to
catch the heavy vehicle, and would
spring upon the steps before the horses
iiad quite stopped. Then getting inside,
rather out of breath, and sitting down,
she would look round her.

The first time that he saw her,
Francois Tessier felt that her face
pleased him extremely. One sometimes
meets a woman whom one longs to
chsp madly in one's arms immediately,
without even knowing her. That girl
answered to his inward desires, to his
secret hopes, to that sort of ideal of
love which one cherishes in the depths
of the heart, without knowing it.

He looked at her intently, in spite of
himself, and she grew embarrassed at his
looks and blushed. He saw it and tried
to turn away his eyes; but he involun-
tarily fixed them upon her again every
moment, although he tried to look in
another direction, and in a few days
they knew each other without having
spoken. He gave up his place to her
when the omnibus was full, and got out-
side, though he was very sorry to do it.
By this time she had gone so far as to



greet hun with a little smile; and al-
though she always dropped her eyes un-
der his looks, which she felt were too
ardent, yet she did not appear offended
at being looked at in such a manner.

They ended by speaking. A kind of
rapid intimacy had become established
between them, a daily intimacy of half
an hour, which was certainly one of the
most charming half hours in his life to
him. He thought of her all the rest of
the .time, saw her continually during
the long office hours, for he was haunted
and bewitched by that floating and yet
tenacious recollection which the image
of a beloved woman leaves in us, and it
seemed to him that the entire posses*
sion of that little person would be mad-
dening happiness to him, almost above
human realization.

Every morning now she shook hands
with him, and he preserved the feeling
of that touch, and the recollection of the
gentle pressure of her little fingers, un-
til the next day. He almost fancied that
he preserved the imprint of it on his
skin, and he anxiously waited for this
short omnibus ride all the rest of the
time, while Sundays seemed to him
heartbreaking days. However, there
was no doubt that she loved him, for one
Sunday in spring, she promised to go
and lunch with him at Maison-Lafitte
the next day.

n.

She was at the railway station first,
which surprised him, but she said:
"Before going; I want to speak to you.
We have twenty minutes, and that is
more than I shall take for what I have
to say."



159



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



She trembled as she hung on his arm,
and looked down, while her cheeks were
pale, but she continued: **1 do not
want you to be deceived in me, and I
shall not go there with you unless you
promise, unless you swear — not to do —
not to do anything that is at all im-
proper — "

She had suddenly become as red as a
poppy* and said no more. He did not
know what to reply, for he was happy
and disappointed at the same time. At
the bottom of his heart, he perhaps pre-
ferred that it should be so, and yet —
during the night he had indulged in
anticipations that sent the hot blood
flowing through his veins. He should
love her less, certainly, if he knew that
her conduct was light, but then it would
be so charming, so delicious for him!
And he made all a man's usual selfish
calculations in love affairs.

As he did not say anything she began
to speak again in an agitated voice, and
with tears in her eyes: "If you do not
promise to respect me altogether, I shall
return home."

And so he squeezed her arm tenderly
and replied: "I promise, you shall only
do what you like.** She appeared re-
lieved in mind, and asked with a smile:
"Do you really mean it?"

And he looked into her eyes and re-
plied. "I swear it.'*

"Now you may take the tickets," she
said.

During the journey they could hardly
«peak, as the carriage was full, and when
they got to Maison-Lafitte they went
toward the Seine. The sun, which shone
full upon the river, upon the leaves, and
upon the turf, seemed to reflect in them
his brightness, and they went, hand in



hand, along the bank, looking at the
shoals of little flsh swimming near the
bank, brimming over with happiness, as
if they were raised from earth in their
lightness of heart.

At last she said: "How foolish you
must think me!"

"Why?" he asked.

"To come out like this, all alone with
you."

"Certainly not; it is quite natural,"

"No, no, it is not natural for me — ^be-
cause I do not wish to commit a fault,
and yet this is how girls fall. But if
you only knew how wretched it is, every
day the same thing, every day in the
month, and every month in the year. I
live quite alone with mamma, and as she
has had a great deal of trouble, she is
not very cheerful. I do the best I can
and try to laugh in spite of everything,
but I do not always succeed. But all
the same, it was wrong in me to come,
though you, at any rate, will not be
sorry."

By the way of an answer he kissed her
ardently on the ear that was nearest him,
but she started away from him with an
abrupt movement, and getting suddenly
angry exclaimed: "Oh! Monsieur
Frangois, after what you swore to me!"
And they went back to Maison-Lafitte.

They had lunch at the Petit-Havre, a
low house, buried under four enormous
poplar trees, by the side of the river.
The air, the heat, the small bottle of
white wine, and the sensation of being
so close together, made them red and
silent, with a feeling of oppression, but
after the coffee they regained their high
spirits, and having crossed the Seine,
started off along the bank toward the



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THE FATHER



161



village of La Frette. Suddenly he asked;
"What is your name?"

"Louise."

"Louise," he repeated, and said noth-
ing more.

The river, which described a long
curve, bathed a row of white houses in
the distance, which were reflected in the
water. The girl picked the daisies and
made them into a great bunch, while he
sang vigorously, as intoxicated as a colt
that has been turned into a meadow. On
their left, a vine-covered slope followed
the river. Suddenly Francois stopped
motionless with astonishment: "Ohl
look there!'' he said.

The vines had come to an end, and
the whole slope was covered with lilac
bushes in flower. It was a violet-colored
wood! A kind of great carpet stretched
over the earth, reaching as far as the
village, more than two miles off. She
also stood surprised and delighted, and
murmured: **0h! how pretty!" And
crossing a meadow they walked toward
that curious low hill, which every year
furnishes all the lilac which is sold
through Paris on the carts of the flower-
peddlers.

A narrow path went beneath the trees,
so they took it, and when they came to
a small clearing, they sat down.

Swarms of flies were buzzing around
them, and making a continuous, gentle
sound, and the sim, the bright sun of a
perfectly still day, shone over the bright
slopes, and from that wood of flowers a
powerful aroma was borne toward them,
a wave of perfume, the breath of the
flowers.

A church clock struck in the distance.
They embraced gently, then clasped
each other close, lying on the grass.



without the knowledge of anything ex«
cept of that kiss. She had closed her
eyes and held him in her arms, pressing
him to her closely, without a thought,
with her reason bewildered, and from
head to foot in passionate expectation.
And she surrendered herself altogether
without knowing that she had given her-
self to him. But she soon came to her-
self with the feeling of a great misfor-
tune, and she began to cry and sob with
grief, with her face buried in her hands.

He tried to console her, but she
wanted to start, to return and go home
immediately, and she kept saying as she
walked along, quickly: "Good heavens!
good heavens!"

He said to her: "Louise! Louise!
Please let us stop here." But now her
cheeks were red and her eyes hollow,
and as soon as they got to the railway
station in Paris, she left him, without
even saying good-bye.

ni.

When he met her in the omnibus next
day, she appeared to him to be changed
and thinner, "and she said to him : "I
want to speak to you; ,we will get down
at the Boulevard."

As soon as they were on the pavement,
she said: "We must bid each other
good-bye; I cannot meet you again after
what has happened."

"But why?" he asked.

"Because I cannot; I have been cul
pable, and I will not be so again."

Then he implored her, tortured by de-
sire, maddened by the wish of having
her entirely, in the absolute freedom of
nights of love, but she replied firmly *,
*No. I cannot, I cannot."



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



He, however, only grew all the more
excited, and promised to marry her, but
she said: "No," and left him.

For over a week he did not see her.
He could not manage to meet her, and
as he did not know her address, he
thought he had lost her altogether. On
the ninth day, however, there was a ring
at his bell, and when he opened it, she
was there. She threw herself into his
arms, and did not resist any longer, and
for three months she was his mistress.
He was beginning to grow tired of her,
when she told him a woman's most
precious secret, and then he had one
idea and wish — to break with her at any
price. As, however, he could not do
that, not knowing how to begin or what
to say, full of anxiety, he took a de-
cisive step. One night he changed his



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