Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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He was silent. Then, after some min-
utes he added:

"When I had squandered my last sou
for her, she shnply said to me: *You
understand, my dear, that I cannot live
on air and weather. I love you very
much, I love you more than anyone, but
I must live. Misery and I can never
dwell in the same house.'

"And if I could only tell you what an
atrocious life I led by her side! When-
ever I looked at her I had as much de-
sire to kill her as I had to embrace her.
Whenever I looked at her there came to
me a furious desire to open my arms,
press her to me until I strangled her.
There was something about her, behind
her eyes, something perfidious and un-
seizable which made me furious against
her; and perhaps it was for that very
reason that I loved her so much. In hei
the Feminine, the odious, frightful Fem-
inine, was more prominent than in any
other woman. She was charged and sur-
charged with it, as with a venomous
fluid. She was Woman, more than any-
one else has ever been.

"And whenever I went out with her,
she would cast her eyes over all men in
such a fashion that she seemed to give

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herself to each one with only a look.
This exasperated me, but attached me
more strongly to her, nevertheless. This
creature belonged to everybody from
merely passing through the street, in
spite of me, in spite of herself, from her
very nature, although the allurement
"was most modest and sweet. Do you

"And what torment! At the theater,
in a restaurant, it seemed to me that
everyone possessed her before my eyes.
And whenever I left her alone, others
did, in fact, possess her.

"It is ten years now since I saw her,
and I love her now more than ever."

Night had spread over the earth. A

powerful perfume of orange flowers in
the air.

I said to him: "Will you try to see
her again?"

He answered: "Surely! I have here
now, in money and land, seven or eight
hundred thousand francs. When the mil-
lion is completed, I shall sell all and set
out. With that I can have one year with
her, one good, entire year. And then-
adieu; my life will be finished."

I asked: "And after that?"

"After that," he answered, "I don^
know. It will be finished. Perhaps I
shall ask her to take me as a valet de


The two young women have the ap-
pearance of being buried in a bed of
flowers. They are alone in an immense
landau filled with bouquets like a giant
basket. Upon the seat before them are
two small hampers full of Nice violets,
and upon the bear-skin which covers
their knees is a heap of roses, gilly-
flowers, marguerites, tuberoses, and
orange flowers, bound together with silk
ribbons, which seem to crush the two
delicate bodies^ only allowing to appear
above the spread-out, perfumed bed the
shoulders, arms, and a little of their
bodices, one of which is blue and the
other lilac.

The coachman's whip bears a sheath
of anemones, the horses* heads are
decorated with wallflowers, the spokes of
the wheels are. clothed in mignonette.

and in place of lanterns, there are two
round, enormous bouquets, which seem
like the two eyes of this strange, rolling,
flowery beast.

The landau goes along Antibes street
at a brisk trot, preceded, followed, and
accompanied by a crowd of other gar-
landed carriages full of women con-
cealed under a billow of violets. For it
is the Flower Festival at Cannes.

They arrived at the Fonci^re Boule-
vard where the battle takes place. The
whole length of the immense avenue, a
doubl line of bedecked equipages was
going and coming, like a ribbon without
end. They threw flowers from one to
the other. Flowers passed in the an:
like balls, hit the fair faces, hovered and
fell in the dust where an army of street
urchins gathered them.

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A compact crowd, clamorous but or-
derly, looked on, standing in rows upon
the sidewalks, and held in plac^ by po-
licemen on horseback who passed along,
pushing back the curious brutally with
their feet, in order that the villains might
not mingle with the rich.

Now, the people in the carriages rec-
ognize each other, call to each other, and
bombard one another with roses. A
chariot full of pretty young women,
clothed in red like devils, attracts and
holds all eyes. One gentleman, who re-
sembles the portraits of Henry IV.,
throws repeatedly, with joyous ardor, a
huge bouquet retained by an elastic. At
the threat of the blow the women lower
their heads and hide their eyes, but the
gracious projectile only describes a
curve and again returns to its master,
who immediately throws it again to a
new face.

The two young women empty their
arsenal with full hands and receive a
shower of bouquets ; then, after an hour
of battle, a little wearied at the last,
they order the coachman to take the
road to the Juan gulf, which skirts the

The sun disappeared behind the
^sterel, outlining in black, upon a back-
ground of fire, the lacey silhouette of
the stretched-out mountain. The calm
sea was spread out blue and clear as
far as the horizon, where it mingled
with the sky and with the squadron an-
chored in the middle of the gulf, hav-
ing the appearance of a troop of mon-
strous beasts, immovable upon the
water, apocalyptic animals, hump-backed
and clothed in coats-of-mail, capped
with thin masts Hke plumes, and with

eyes that lighted up when night came

The young women, stretched out un-
der the fur robe, looked upon it lan-
guidly. Finally one of them said:

"How delicious these evenings arel
Everything seems good. Is it not so,

The other replied: '"Yes, it is good.
But there is always something lacking."

"What is it? For my part, I am com-
pletely happy. I have need of nothing."

"Yes? You think so, perhaps. But
whatever well-being surrounds our
bodies, we always desire something more
—for the heart."

Said the other, smiling: "A Kttle


They were silent, looking straight be-
fore them; then the one called Margue-
rite said: "Life does not seem support-
able to me without that. I need to be
loved, if only by a dog. And we are
all so, whatever you may say, Simone."

"No, no, my dear. I prefer not to be
loved at all than to be loved by no one
of importance. Do you think, for ex-
ample, that it would be agreeable to
me to be loved by — ^by — "

She looked for some one by whom
she could possibly be loved, casting her
eyes over the neighboring country. Her
eyes, after having made the tour of the
whole horizon, fell upon the two metal
buttons shining on the coachman's back,
and she continued, laughing, "By my

Miss Marguerite scarcely smiled as
she replied:

"I can assure you it is very amusing
to be loved by a domestic. This has
happened to me two or three times.

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They roll their eyes so queerly Uiat one
is dying to laugh. Naturally, the more
one is toved, the more severe she be-
comes, since otherwise, one puts herself
in the way of being made ridiculous for
some very slight cause, if anyone hap-
pened to observe it."

Miss Simone listened, her look fixed
straight before her; then she declared:

"No, decidedly, the heart of my valet
at my feet would not appear to me suf-
ficient. But tell me how you perceived
that you were loved."

"I perceived it in them as I do in
other men, they become so stupid!"

"But others do not appear so stupid
to me, when they are in love."

"Idiots, my dear, incapable of chat-
ting, of answering, of comprehending

"And you? What effect did it have
on you to be loved by a domestic? Were
you moved — flattered?"

"Moved? No. Flattered? Yes, a
little. One is always flattered by the
love of a man, whoever he may be."

"Oh! now, Margot!"

"Yes, my dear. Wait! I will tell you
a singular adventure that happened to
me. You will see what curious things
take place among us in such cases.

"It was four jrears ago in the autumn,
when I found myself without a maid. I
had tried five or six, one after the other,
all of them incompetent, and almost
despaired of finding one, when I read in
the advertisements of a newspaper of a
young girl, knowing how to sew, em-
broider, and dress hair, who was seeking
a place and could furnish the best of
references. She could also speak Eng-

"I wrote to the address given, and the

next day the person in question pre-
sented herself. She was rather taU,
thin, a little pale, with a very timid air.
She had beautiful black eyes, a charm-
ing color, and she pleased me at once.
I asked for her references ; she gave me
one written in English, because she had
come, she said, from the house of Lady
Ryswell, where she had been for ten

"The certificate attested that the girl
was returning to France of her own will,
and that she had nothing to reproach
her for during her long service with her,
except a little of the French coquettish-

**The modest turn of the English
phrase made me smile a little and I en-
gaged the maid immediately. She came
to my house the same day; she called
herself Rose.

"At the end of a month, I adored
her. She was a treasure, a peaii, a

"She could dress my hair with ex-
quisite taste; she could flute the lace
of a cap better than the best of the pro-
fessionals, and she could make frocks.
I was amazed at her ability. Never
had I been so well served.

"She dressed me rapidly with an as-
tonishing lightness of hand. I never felt
her fingers upon my skin, and nothing
is more disagreeable to me than con-
tact with a maid's hand. I immediately
got into excessively idle habits, so pleas-
ant was it to let her dress me from head
to foot, from chemise to gloves — ^this
tall, timid girl, always blushing a little
and never speaking. After my bath, she
would rub me and massage me while I
slept a little while on my divan; indeed,
I came to look upon her more as a

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friend in' poorer circumstances, than a

"One morning the concierge, with
some show of mystery, said he wished
to speak to me. I was surprised but
let him enter. He was an old soldier,
once orderly for my husband.

"He appeared to hesitate at what he
Was going to say. Finally, he said stam-
tneringly: 'Madame, the police cap-
tain for this district is downstairs.'

"I asked: 'What does he want?*

" *He wants to search the house.*

"Certainly the police are necessary,
but I do detest them. I never can make
it seem a noble profession. And I an-
swered, irritated as well as woimded:

" *Why search here? For what pur-
pose? There has been no burglary.*

**He answered:

" 'He thinks that a criminal is con-
cealed somewhere here.*

"I began to be a little afraid and or-
dered the police captain to be brought
that I might have some explanation. He
was a man rather well brought up and
decorated with the Legion of Honor.
He excused himself, asked my pardon,
then asserted that I had among my
servants a convict!

"I was thunderstruck, and answered
that I could vouch for every one of
them and that I would make a review of
them for his satisfaction.

"'There is Peter Courtin, an old

"It was not he.

"TTie coachman, Francis Pingau, a
peasant, son of my father's farmer.'

"It was not he.

" *A stable boy, also from Cham-
pagne, and also a son of peasants I had

known, and no mjre except the foot-
man whom you have seen.'

"It was not any of them.

" *Then, sir, you see that you have
been deceived.'

" 'Pardon me, Madame, but I am
sure I am not deceived. As he has not
at all the appearance of a criminal, will
you have the goodness to have all your
servants appear here before you and
me, all of them?'

"I hesitated at first, then I yielded,
sunimoning all my people, men and

"He looked at them all for an in*
stant, then declared.

" 'This is not aU.'

"•Your pardon, sir,' I rej^ed, 'this
is all except my own maid who could
not possibly be confounded with a con-

"He asked: 'Coidd I see her too?'

" 'Certainly.'

"I rang and Rose appeared imme-
diately. Scarcely had she entered
when he gave a signal and two men,
whom I had not seen, concealed behind
the door, threw themselves upon her,
seized her hands, and boimd them with

"I uttered a cry of fury, and was go*
ing to try and defend her. The cap-
tain stopped me :

" 'This girl, Madame, is a man who
calls himself John Nicholas Lecapet»
condemned to death in 1879 for assas-
sination preceded by violation. His
sentence was changed to life imi^on-
ment. He escaped fom: months ago.
We have been on the search for him
ever since.'

"I was dismayed, struck dumb. I

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could not believe it. The policeman
continued, laughing:

"1 can only give you one proof.
His right arm is tattooed/

"His sleeve was rolled up. It was
true. The policeman added, certainly
in bad taste:

" ^Doubtless you will be satisfied with-
out the other proofs.'

"And he led away my maid!

"Well, if you wiU believe it, the feel-
ing which was uppermost in me was that
of anger at having been played with in
this way, deceived and made ridiculous;
it was not shame at having been dressed.

undressed, handled, and touched by this
man, but — a — profound humiliation—
the humiliation of a woman. Do you

"No, not exactly."

"Let us see. Think a minute— He
had been condemned — for violation, this
young man— and that — that humiliated
me— there! Now do you understand?''

And Miss Simone did not reply. She
looked straight before her, with her
eyes singularly fixed upon the two shin-
ing buttons of the livery, and with that
sphinx's smile that women have some*

The Wedding Night

My dear Genevieve, you ask me to
tell you about my wedding journey.
How do you think I dare? Ah! sly
one, who had nothing to tell me, who
even allowed me to guess at nothing —
but there! nothing from nothing!

Now, you have been married eighteen
months, yes, eighteen months, you, my
best friend, who formerly said you
could conceal nothing from me, and you
had not the charity to warn me! If you
had only given the hint! If you had
only put me on my guard! If you had
put one little simple suspicion in my
soul, you might have hindered me from
making the egregious blunder for which
I still blush, and which my husband
will laugh at until his death. You alone
are responsible for it! I have rendered
myself frightfully rediculous forever;
I have committed one of those errors
of which the memory u? never effaced —

and by your fault, wicked onel Oh I if
I had known!

Wait! I take courage from writing,
and have decided to tell you all. But
promise me not to laugh too much. And
do not expect a comedy. It is a drama.

You recall my marriage. I was to
start the same evening on my wedding
journey. Certainly I did not at all re-
semble Paulette, whom "Gyp" tells us
about in that droll account of her spir-
itual romance, called, "About Marriage."
And if my mother had said to me, as
,Mrs. d'Hautretan did to her daughter:
"Your husband will take you in his arms
— ^and — " I should certainly not have
responded as Paulette did, laughing:
"Go no farther, mamma, I know all that
as well as you — "

As for me, I knew nothing at all, and
mamma, my Door mamma who is alwava

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frightened, dared not broach the delicate

Well, then, at five o'clock in the eve-
ning, after the collation, they told us
that the carriage was waiting. The
guests had gone, I was ready. I can
still hear the noise of the trunks on the
staircase and the blowing of papa's nose,
which seemed to indicate that he was
weeping. In embracing me, the poor
man said: "Good courage!" as if I
were going to have a tooth pulled. As
for mamma, she was a fountain. My
husband urged me to hasten theje pain-
ful adieux, and I was myself all in
tears, although very happy. That is
not easy to explain but is entirely true.
All at once, I felt something pulling
at my dress. It was Bijou, wholly for-
gotten since morning. The poor beast
was saying adieu to me after his fash-
ion. This gave my heart a little blow,
and I felt a great desire to embrace my
dog. I seized him (you remember he
is as large as a fist) and began to de-
vour him with kisses. I love to caress
animals. It gives me a sweet pleasure,
causing a kind of delicious shiver.

As for him, he was like a mad crea-
ture; he waved his i)aws, licked me, and
nibbled, as he does when he is perfectly
content. Suddenly, he took my nose in
his teeth, and I felt that he had really
bitten me. I uttered a little cry and
put the dog down. He had bitten, al-
though only in play. Everybody was
disburbed. They brouj^t water, vine-
C ir, and some pieces of linen. My hus-
band himself attended to it. It was
nothing after all but three little holes
which his teeth had made. At the end
of five minutes the blood was stopped
end we went away-

It had been decided that we should
go on a journey through Normanay for
about six weeks.

That evening we arrived at Dieppe.
When I say evening, I mean midnight.

You know how I love the sea. I de-
clared to my husband that I could not
retire until I had seen it. He appeared
very contrary. I asked him laughing,
if he was sleepy.

He answered: "No, my dear, but you
must understand that I would like to be
alone with you."

I was surprised. "Alone with me?"
I replied, "but you have been alone
with me all the way from Paris, in the

He laughed: **Yes — but, — in the
train,-:— that is not the same thing as be-
ing in our room."

I would not give up. "Oh, well,"
said I, "we shall be alone on the beach,
and that is all there is to it!"

Decidedly he was not pleased. He
said: "Very well; as you wish."

The night was magnificent, one of
those nights which bring grand, vague
ideas to the soul, — ^more sensations than
thoughts, perhaps, — ^that bring a desire
to open the arms as if they were wings
and embrace the heavens — ^but how can
I. express it? One always feels that
these imknown things can be compre-

There was a dreaminess, a poesy in
the air, a happiness of another kind
than that of earth, a sort of infinite in«
toxication which comes from the starS;
the moon, the silver, glistening water.
These are the best moments of life.
They are a glimpse of a different exis-
tence, an embellished, delicious exis-

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tence; they are the revelation of what
could be, of what will be, perhaps.

Nevertheless, my husband appeared
impatient to return. I said to him:
'*Are you cold?"


"Then look at the little boat down
there, which seems asleep on the water.
Could anything be better than this! I
would wUlingly remain here until day-
break. Tell me, shall we wait and see

He seemed to think that I was mock-
ing him, and very soon took me back
to the hotel by force! If I had known!
(Ml! the poor creature!

When we were once alone, I felt
ashamed, constrained, without knowing
why. I swear it. Finally, I made him
go into the bath-room while I got into

Oh! my dear, how can I go further?
Well, here it is! He took without doubt,
my extreme innocence for mischief, my
extreme simplicity for profligacy, my
confident, credulous abandon for some
kind of tactics, and paid no regard to
the delicate management that is neces-
sary in order to make a soul wholly un-
prepared comprehend and accept such

All at once, I believe he lost his head.
Then fear seized me; I asked him if he
wished to kill me. When terror invades,
one does not reason nor think further,
one is mad. In one second I had
imagined frightful things. I thought of
various stories in the newspapers, of
mysterious crimes, of all the whispered
tales of young girls married to miser-
able men! I fought, repulsed him, was
overcome with fright. I even pulled
a wisp of hair from his mustache, and

relieved by this effort, I arose, shout-
ing: "Help! help!" I ran to the door,
drew the bolts, and hurried, nearly
naked, downstairs.

Other doors opened. Men, in night
apparel, appeared with lights in their
hands. I fell into the arms of one of
them, imploring his protection. He
made an attack upon my husband.

I knew no more about it. They
fought and they cried; then they
laughed, but laughed in a way you could
never imagine. The whole house
laughed, from the cellar to the garret.
I heard in the corridors and in the
rooms about us explosions of gaiety. The
kitchen maids laughed under the roof,
and the bellboy was in contortions on
his bench in the vestibule.

Think of it! In a hotel!

Soon, I found myself alone with my
husband, who made me some summary
explanations, as one explains a surgical
operation before it is undertaken. He
was not at all content. I wept until
daylight, and we went away at the open-
ing of the doors.

That is not all. The next day we ar-
rived at Pourville, which is only an
embryo station for baths. My husband
overwhelmed me with little attentions
and tender care. After a first raisun*
derstanding, he appeared enchanted.
Ashamed, and much cast down, over
my adventure of the evening before, I
was also amiable as could be, and docile.
But you cannot figure the horror, the
disgust, almost the hatred that Henry
inspired in me, when I knew the in-
famous secret that they conceal from
young girls. I was in despair, as sad as
death, mindful of everything, and har-
assed oy the need of being near my

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poor parents. The next day after we
arrived at Etretat. All the bathers were
in a flurry of excitement. A young
woman had been bitten by a little dog,
and had just died of rabies. A great
shiver ran down my back when I heard
this story told at the hotel table. It
seemed to me immediately, that I was
suffering in the nose, and I had strange
feelings all along my limbs.

That night I could not sleep; I had
completely forgotten mv husband. What
if I were gomg to die too from rabies?
I asked for some details, the next day,
from the proprietor of the hotel. He
gave me some frightful ones. I passed
the day in walking upon the shore. I
thought I could no longer speak. Hy-
drophobia! What a horrible death!

Henry asked me: "What is the mat-
ter? You seem sad."

I answered: "Oh! Nothing! Noth-

My staring eyes were fixed upon the
sea without seeing it, upon farms, upon
the fields, without my ever being able
to say what came under my gaze. For
nothing in the world would I have con-
fessed the thought that tortured me.
Some pain, true pain was felt in my
nose. I wished to revum.

As soon as I was back in the hotel, I
shut myself up in order to examine the
wound. There was nothing to be seen.
Nevertheless, I could not doubt that
it was working me great harm. I
wrote immediately to my mother, a
short letter which probably sounded
strange. I asked an immediate reply
to some insignificant questions. After
having signed my name, I wrote: "Es-
pecially, do not forget to give me some
news of Bijou."

The next day I could not eat, but 1
refused to see a physician. All day
long I remained seated upon the beach
looking at the bathers in the water.
They came, the thin and the stout, all
hideous in their frightful costunues;
but I never thought of laughing. I
thought: "They are happy, these peo-
ple! They have not been bitten! They
are going to live! They have nothing
to fear. They can amuse themselves
at will, because they are at peace!"

At that instant I carried my hand to
my nose, touching it; was it not
swollen? And soon I entered the hotel,
shut myself in, and looked at it in the
glass. Oh! it had changed color. I
should die now very soon.

That evening I felt all at once a sort
of tenderness for my husband, a ten-
derness of despair. He appeared good
to me; I leaned upon his arm. Twenty
times I was on the point of telling him
my distressing secret, but ended in keep-
ing silent.

He abused odiously my listlessness
and the weakness of my soul. I had
not the force to resist him, nor even
the will. I would bear all, suffer all!

The next day I received a letter from
my mother. She replied to my ques-
tions, but said not a word about Bijou.
I immediately thought: "He is dead

Online LibraryGuy de MaupassantThe complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant → online text (page 54 of 125)