Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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to be metamorphosed into the most ar-
dent lover in the young woman's bou-
doirw The young Pole grew accustomed
to his female attire so quickly that he
even ventured to appear in the streets
in it, and when he began to make con-
quests, and aristocratic gentlemen and
successful speculators on the Stock Ex-
change looked at him significantly and
wen followed him, he took a real plea-
sure in the part he was playing, begin-
ning to understand the pleasure a co-
quette feels in tormenting men.

The young Pole became more and
more daring, until one evening he went
to a private box at the opera, wrapped
in an ermine cloak, on to which his dark,
false curls fell in heavy waves.

A handsome young man in a box op-
posite to him ogled him incessantly
from the first moment, and the young
Pole responded in a manner which made
the other bolder every minute. At the
end of the third act the box-opener
brought the fictitious Venus a small
bouquet with a card concealed in it, on
which was written in pencil:

"You are the most lovely woman in
the world, and I implore you on my
knees to grant me an interview."

The young Pole read the name of the
man who had been captivated so
quickly, and, with a peculiar smile,
wrote on a card on which nothing but
the name "Valeska" was prmted: "After



the theater," and sent Cupid's messenger
back with it.

When the spurious Venus was about
to enter her carriage after the per-
formance, thickly veiled and wrapped in
her ermine cloak, the handsome young
man was standing by it with his hat off,
and he opened the door for her. She
was kind enough to allow him to get in
with her, and during their drive she
talked to him in the most charming man-
ner, but she was cruel enough to dis-
miss him without pity before they
reached her house. She went to the
theater each night now, and every eve-
ning received an ardent note. Each
evening she allowed the amorous swain
to accompany her as far as her house,
and men were beginning to envy him his
brilliant conquest, when a catastrophe
happened which was very surprising for
all concerned.

The husband of the lady in whose
eyes the Pole had found favor surprised
the loving couple one day under circum-
stances which made • any justification
impossible. But while he, trembling
with rage and jealousy, was drawing a
small Circassian dagger which hung
against the wall from its sheath, and
as his wife threw herself, half fainting
on to a couch, the young Pole had hastily
put the false cyrls on to his head and
had slipped into the silk dress and the
sable cloak which he had been wearing
when he came into his mistress's boudoir.

"What does this mean," the husband
stammered, "Valeska?"

"Yes, sir" the young Pole replied;
**Valeska, who has come here to show
your wife a few love letters, which—"

"No, no," the deceived, but never*
theless guilty, husband said in implor



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THE ORDERLY



499



ing accents; "no that is quite unneces-
sary." And at the same time he put the
dagger back into its sheath.

"Very well, then, there is a truce be-
tween us," the Pole observed coolly,
"but do not forget what weapons I
possess, and which I mean to retain
against all contingencies."

Then the gentlemen bowed politely
to each other, and the imexpected meet-
ing came to an end



From that time forward the terms on
which the young married couple lived
together assumed the character of that
everlasting peace which President Grant
once promised the whole world in his
message to all nations. The yoimg
woman did not find it necessary to make
her lover put on petticoats, and the hus-
band constantly accompanies the real
Valeska a good deal further than he did
the false one on that memorable occa-
sion.



The Orderly



The cemetery, filled with officers,
looked like a field covered with flowers.
The kepis and the red trousers, the
stripes and the gold buttons, the shoul-
der-knots of the staff, the braid of the
chasseurs and the hussars, passed
through the midst of the tombs, whose
crosses, white or black, opened their
mournful arms — their arms of iron, mar-
ble, or wood — over the vanished race of
the dead.

Colonel Limousin's wife had just been
buried. She had been drowned, two
days before, while taking a bath. It was
over. The clergy had left; but the
Colonel, supported by two brother-
officers, remained standing in front of
the pit, at the bottom of which he saw
still the oaken coffin, wherein lay, al-
ready decomposed, the body of his
young wife.

He was almost an old man, tall and
thin, with white mustaches; and, three
years ago, he had married the daughter
of a comrade, left an orphan on the
death of her father. Colonel Sortis.



The Captain and the Lieutenant, on
whom their commanding officer was
leaning, attempted to lead him away.
He resisted, his eyes full of ears, which
he heroically held back, and murmur-
ing, "No, no, a little while longer!" he
persisted in remaining there, his legs
bending under him, at the side of that
pit, which seemed to him bottomless,
an abyss into which had fallen his heart
and his life, all that he held dear on
earth.

Suddenly, General Ormont came up,
seized the Colonel by the arm, and
dragging him from the spot almost by
force, said: "Come, come, my old
comrade! you must not remain here."

The Colonel thereupon obeyed, and
went back to his quarters. As he opened
the door of his study, saw a letter on
the table, when he took it in his hands,
he was near falling with surprise and
emotion: he recognized his wife's hand-
writing. And the letter bore the post-
mark and the date of the same day. He
tore open the envelope and read:



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



"Father: Permit me to call you still
father as in days gone by. When you
receive this letter, I shall be dead, and
under the clay. Therefore, perhaps,
you may forgive me.

"I do not want to excite your pity or
to extenuate my sin. I only want to tell
the entire and complete truth, with all
the sincerity of a woman who, in an
hour's time, is going to kill herself.

"When you married me through gen-
erosity, I gave myself to you through
gratitude, and I loved you with all my
girlish heart. I loved you as I loved my
own father — ^almost as much; and one
day, while I sat on your knee, and you
were kissing me, I called you Tather* in
spite of myself. It was a cry of the
heart, instinctive, spontaneous. Indeed,
you were to me a father, nothing but a
father. You laughed, and said to me,
'Address me always in that way, my
child; it gives me pleasure.'

**We came to the city; and — forgive
me, father — I fell in love. Ah! I re-
sisted long, well, nearly two years — and
then I yielded, I sinned, I became a
fallen woman.

"And as to him? You will never guess
who he is. I am easy enough about that
matter, since there were a dozen ofl&cers
always around me and with me, whom
you called my twelve constellations.

"Father, do not seek to know him, and
do not hate him. He only did what any
man, no matter whom, would have done
in his place, and then I am sure that he
ioved me, too, with all his heart.

"But listen! One day we had an ap-
pointment in the isle of Becasses — ^you
know the little isle, close to the mill. I
had to get there by swimming, and he
had to wait for me in a thicket, and then



to remain there till nightfall so that
nobody should see him going away. I
had just met him when the branches
opened, and we saw Philippe, your or-
derly, who had surprised us. I felt that
we were lost, and I uttered a great cry.
Thereupon he said to me, — ^he, my lover,
— 'Go, swim back quietly, my darling,
and leave me here with this man.*

"I went away so excited that I was
near drowning myself, and I came back
to you expecting that something dread*
ful was about to happen.

"An hour later, Philippe said to me in
a low tone, in the lobby outside the
drawing-room where I met him : *I am
at Madame's orders, if she has any let-
ters to give me.* Then I knew that he
had sold himself and that my lover had
bought him.

"I gave him some letters, in fact — ^ail
my letters — he took them away, and
brought me back the answers.

"This lasted about two months. We
had confidence in him, as you had con-
fidence in him yourself.

"Now, father, here is what happened.
One day, in the same isle which I had
to reach by swimming, but this time
alone, I found your orderly. This man
had been waiting for me; and he in-
formed me that he was going to reveal
everything about us to you, and deliver
to you letters he had kept, stolen, if I
did not yield to his desires.

"Oh! father, father, I was filled with
fear — sl cowardly fear, an unworthy
fear, a fear above all of you, who had
been so good to me, and whom I had
deceived — fear on his account too— you
would have killed him — for myself also
perhaps! I cannot tell; I was mad,
desperate; I thought of once more buy-



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JOSEPH



501



lug this wretch, who loved me, too —
how shameful!

"We are so weak, we women, we lose
our heads more easily than you do.
And then, when a woman once falls, she
always falls lower and lower. Did I
know what I was doing? I understood
only that one of you two and I were
going to die — and I gave myself to this
brute.

"You see, father, that I do not seek
to excuse myself. Then, then — ^then
what I should have foreseen happened —
he had the better of me again and
again, when he wished, by terrifying me.
He, too, has been my lover, like the
other, every day» Is not this abomi-
nable? And what punishment, father?

"So then it is all over with me. I
must die. While I lived, I could not
confess such a crime to you. Dead, I
dare everything. I could not do other-
wise than die — nothing could have
washed me clean — ^I was too polluted.
I could no longer love or be loved. It
seemed to me that I stained everyone
by merely allowing my hand to be
touched.

"Presently I am going to take my
bath, and I will never come back. This
letter for you will go to my lover. It
will reach him when I am dead, and
without anyone knowing anything about
it, be will forward it to you, accomplish-



ing my last wishes. And you shall read
it on your return from the cemetery.

"Adieu, father! I have no more te
tell you. Do whatever you wish, and
forgive me."

The Colonel wiped his forehead,
which was covered with perspiration.
His coolness, the coolness of days when
he had stood on the field of battle sud-
denly came back to him. He lang.

A manservant made his appearance.
"Send in Philippe to me," said the Colo-
nel. Then he opened the drawer of his
table.

The man entered almost immediately
— 3L big soldier with red mustaches, a
malignant look, and a cunning eye.

The Colonel looked him straight in
tiie face.

"You are going to tell me the name of
my wife's lover."

"But, my Colonel—"

The officer snatched his revolver out
of the half-open drawer.

"Come! quick! You know I do not
jest!"

'Well — ^my Colonel— it is Captain
Saint-Albert."

Scarcely had he pronounced this name
when a flame flashed between his eyes,
and he fell on his face, his forehead
pierced by a ball.



Joseph



They were both of them drunk, quite
drunk, tiny Baroness Andree de la
Fraisi^res and little Countess Noemi de



Gardens. They had dined alone tG»
gether, in the large room facmg the sea.
The soft breeze of a summer evening



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



blew in at tlie open window, soft and
fresh at the same time, a breeze that
smelled of the sea. The two young
women, stretched at length in their
lounging chairs, sipped their Char-
treuse as they smoked their cigarettes,
talking most confidentially, telling each
other details which nothing but this
charming intoxication could have per-
mitted their pretty lips to utter.

Their husbands had returned to Paris
that afternoon, leaving them alone in
that little watering-place which they
had chosen so as to avoid those gallant
marauders who are constantly encoun-
tered at fashionable seaside resorts. As
they were absent for five days in the
weds, they objected to coimtry excur-
sions, luncheons on the grass, swim-
ming lessons, and those sudden familiar-
ities which spring up in the idle life of
similar resorts. To them Dieppe,
Etretat, Trouville seemed places to be
avoided, and they had rented a house
which had been bmlt and abandoned by
an eccentric individual in the valley of
Roqueville, near Fecamp, and there
they buried their wives for the whole
smnmer.

The two ladies were drunk. Not
knowing what to hit upon to amuse
themselves, the little Baroness had sug-
gested a good dinner and champagne.
To begin with, they had found great
amusement in cooking this dinner them-
selves; then they had eaten it merrily,
and had imbibed freely, in order to
allay the thirst excited by the heat of
the fire. Now they were chattering and
talking nonsense, from time to time gen-
tly moistening their throats with Char-
treuse. In fact they did not in the



least know any longer what th^ were
saying.

The Countess, with her feet in the air
on the back of a chair, was further
gone than her friend.

"To complete an evening like this,"
she said, "we ought to have a gallant
apiece. Had I foreseen this some time
ago, I would have sent to Paris for two
men I know, and would have let you
have one."

"I can always find one," the other re-
plied; "I could have one this very eve-
ning, if I wished."

"What nonsense! At Roqueville, my
dear? It yfovld have to be some peas-
ant, then."

"No, not altogether."

"Well, teUme all about it."

"What do you want me to tell you?"

"About your lover."

"My dear, I do not want to live with-
out being loved, for I should fancy I
was dead if I were not loved."

"So should I."

"Is not that so?"

"Yes. Men cannot understand it!
And especially our husbands!"

"No, not in the least. How can you
expect it to be different? The love
which we want is made up of being
spoiled, of gallantries, and of pretty
words and actions. That is the nour-
ishment of our hearts; it is indispensa*
ble to our life, indispensable, indis*
pensable."

"True, dear."

"I must feel that somebody is think-
ing of me, always, everywhere. When
I go to sleep and when I wake up, I
must know that somebody loves me
somewhere, that I am being dreamed of,
longed for. Without that, I should be



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JOSEPH



503



wretched, wrctclied! Oh! yes, unhappy
enough to do nothing but cry."

"I am just the same."
"You must remember that anything
else is impossible. After a husband has
been nice for six months, or a year, or
two years, he usually degenerates into a
brute, yes, a regular brute. He won't
put himself out for anything, but shows
his real self; he makes a scene on the
slightest provocation, and sometimes
without any provocation whatever. One
cannot love a man with whom one lives
constantly."

"That is quite true."

"Isn't it? What was I saying? I
cannot in the least remember?"

"You were saying that all husbands
are brutes!"

**Yes, brutes. All of them."

"That is true."

"And then?"

"What, do you mean?"

"What was I saying just then?"

"I don't know, because vou did not
say it!"

"But I had something to tell you."

"Oh! yes; weU, go on."

"Oh! I have got it."

"Well, I am Ustening."

"I was telling you that I can find
lovers everywhere."

"How do you manage it?"

"Like this. Now follow me carefully.
When I get to some fresh place, I take
notes and make my choice."

"You make your choice?"

"Yes, of course I do. First of all, I
take notes. I ask questions. Above all,
a man must be discreet, rich, and gen-
erous; is not that so?"

"Quite true]''



"And then he must please me, as a
man."

"Of course."

"Then I bait the hook for him."

"Bait the hook?"

"Yes, just as one does to catch fish.
Have you never fished with a hook and
line?"

"No, never."

"YouVe lost some fun, then; it is
very amusing, and besides that, instruc-
tive. Well, then, I bait the hook."

"How do you do it?"

"How dense you are. Don't we catch
the men we want to catch, without their
having any choice? And they really
think that they choose — the fools— but
it is we who choose — always. Just
think, when one is not ugly, or stupid, as
is the case with us, all men run after
tis, all — ^without exception. We look
them over from morning till night, and
when we have selected one, we fish for
him."

"But that does not tell me how you
do it."

"How I do it! Why, I do nothing; I
allow myself to be looked at, that is
aU."

"Only allow yourself to be looked at?"

"Why yes; that is quite enough.
When you have allowed yourself to be
looked at several times, a man imme-
diately thinks you the most lovely, the
most seductive of women, and then he
begins to make love to you. You give
him to understand that he is not bad
looking, without actually saying any-
thing to him, of course, and he falls in
love, like a log. You have him fast, and
it lasts a longer or a shorter time, ac-
cording to his qualities,"



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



"And do you catch all whom you
please like that?"

"Nearly aU."

"Oh! So there are some who resist?"

"Sometimes."

"Why?"

"Oh! A man is a Joseph for three
reasons: First, because he is in love
with another woman; secondly, because
tc is excessively timid, or thirdly, be-
cause he is — how shall I say it? — ^in-
capable of carrying out the conquest of
a woman to the end."

"Oh! my ear! Do you really be-
lieve—"

"I am sure of it. There are many of
this latter class, many, many, many
more than people think. Oh! they look
just like everybody else — ^they strut
like peacocks. No, when I said pea-
cocks, I made a mistake, for they have
not a peacock's virility."

"Oh! my dear!"

"As to the timid, they are sometimes
unspeakably stupid. They are the sort
of men who ought not to undress them-
selves, even when they are going to bed
alone, where there is a looking-glass in
the room. With them, one must be
energetic, make use of looks, and
squeeze their hands, and even that is
useless sometimes. They never know
now or where to begin. When one
faints in their presence — ^as a last re-
source — they try to bring you round;
and if you do not recover your senses
immediately they go and get assistance.

"For myself I confess to a preference
for other women's lovers. I carry them
by assault at the point of the bayonet,
my dear!"

"That IS all very well, but when



there are no men, as in this place, fox
instance?"

"I find them!"

"You find them. But where?"

"Everywhere. But that reminds me
of my story.

"Now listen. Just two years ago my
husband made me pass the summer on
his estate at BougroUes. There was
nothing there — ^you know what I mean,
nothing, nothing, nothing whatever! In
the neighboring coimtry houses there
were a few disgusting boors, men who
cared for nothing but shooting, and lived
in country houses which had not even a
bathroom. They were the sort of men
who go to bed covered with perspira-
tion, men you can't improve, because
their daily lives are dirty. Now just
guess what I did!"

"I cannot possibly."

"Ha! ha! ha! I had just been read-
ing a number of George Sand's novels
which exalt the man of the i>eople,
novels in which the workmen are sub-
lime, and the men of the world are
criminals. In addition to this I had
seen "Ruy Bias" the winter before, and
it had impressed me very much. Well,
one of our farmers had a son, a good-
looking young fellow of two-and-twenty
who had studied for the priesthood, but
had left the seminary in disgust. Well,
I took him as footman!"

"Oh! And then? What afterward?**

"Then — then, my dear, I treated him
very haughtily, but let him see a good
deal of my i)erson. I did not entice
this rustic on, I simply inflamed him!'*

"Oh! Andr^e!"

"Yes, and I enjoyed the fun very
much. People say that servants count
for nothing! Well he did not count for



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JOSEPH



505



mucH. I used to give him his orders
every morning while my maid was dress-
ing me, and every evening as well, while
she was undressing me."

"Oh! Andr6e!"

"My dear, he caught fire like a
thatched roof. Then, at meals, I used
continually to talk about cleanliness,
about taking care of one's person, about
baths and shower baths, until at the end
of a fortnight he bathed in the river
morning and night, and used so much
scent as to poison the whole chateau. I
had to forbid him to use perfume, tell-
ing him, with furious looks, that men
ought never to use any scent but £au
de Cologne."

"Oh! Andrdel"

"Then, I took it into my head to get
together a library suitable to the coun-
try. 1 sent for a few hundred moral
novels, which I lent to all our peasants,
and all my servants. A few books— a
few poetical books, such as excite the
minds of schoolboys and schoolgirls, had
found their way into my collection.
These, I gave to my footman. That
taught him life — a, funny sort of life."

"Oh! Andr6e!"

"Then I grew familiar with him, and
used to *thou* * him. I had given him
the name of Joseph. My dear, he was
in a terrible state. He got as thin as a
barn-door cock, and rolled his eyes like
an idiot. I was extremely amused; it
was one of the most delightful summers
I ever spent."

"And then?"

"Then? Oh! yes, one day when my
husband was away from home, I told
him to order the basket carriage and to
drive me into the woods. It was warm,
very warm. There I "



"Oh! Andr£e, do tell me all about it.
It is so amusing."

"Here, have a glass of Chartreuse,
otherwise I shall empty the decanter
myself. Well, I felt ill on the road."

"How?"

**You are dense. I told him that 1
was not feeling well and that he must
lay me on the grass, and when I was
lying there, I told him I was choking
and that he must unlace me. And then
when I was unlaced, I fainted."

"Did you go right off?"

"Oh! dear no, not the least."

"Well?"

"Well, I was obliged to remain un-
conscious for nearly an hour, as he
could find no means of bringing me
round. But I was very patient, and did
not open my eyes."

"Oh! Andr6e!"

"And what did you say to him?"

"I? Nothmg at all! How was I to
know anything, as I was unconscious?
I thanked him, and told him to help me
into the carriage, and he drove me back
to the chateau; but he nearly upset us in
turning into the gate!"

"Oh! Andr6e! And is that all?"

"That is all."

"You did not faint more than that
once?"

"Only once, of course! I did not want
to take such a fellow for my lover."

"Did you keep him long after that?"

"Yes, of course. I have him still.
Why should I have sent him away? 1
had nothing to complain of."



♦The second person singular is used
in French — as in German — among rela-
tions and intimate friends, and to ser-
vants.



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506



WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



"Oh! Andr6el And is he in love with
you still?"

"Of course he is."

"Where is he?"

The little Baroness put out her hand
to the wall and touched the electric bell.
The door opened almost immediately,
and a tall footman came in who diffused
a scent of Eau de Cologne all round
him.

"Joseph," said the Baroness to him,
"I am afraid I am going to faint; send
my lady's maid to me."

The man stood motionless, like a



soldier before his officer, looking ardently
at his mistress, who continued: "Be
quick, you great idiot, we are not in the
woods to-day, and Rosalie will attend
to me better than you can." He turned
on his heels and went, and the Countess
asked nervously: '*What shall you say
to your maid?"

"I shall tell her what we have been
doing! No, I shall merely get her to un-
lace me; it will relieve my chest, for I
can scarcely breathe. I am drunk, my
dear — so dnmk that I should fall, if I
were to get up from my chair."



Regret



MoNSiEus Savel, who was called in
Mantes "Father Savel," had just risen
from bed. He wept. It was a dull
autumn day; the leaves were falling.
They fell slowly in the rain, resembling
another rain, but heavier and slower.
M. Savel was not in good spirit. He
walked from the fireplace to the window,
and from the window to the fireplace.
Life has its somber days. It will no
longer have any but somber days of
sixty-two. He is alone, an old bachelor,
with nobody about him. How sad it is



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