Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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out a mass and was angry. He re^
proached Mrs. Picot, disturbed her con-
science, and threatened her with mys*
terious punishments. What was to lie
done? It was very simple. They must
go and be married at the church and
at the mayor's. They had nothing,
either one of them : he, not a whole pair
of pantaloons, she, not a petticoat of a
single kind of cloth. So there was noth-
ing to oppose what the law and religion
required. They were united, in an hour,
before the mayor and the curate, and
believed that all was regulated for the
best.

Now, it soon became a joke in the
coimtry (pardon the villainous word) to
make a deceived husband of this poor
Gargan. Before she was married, no
one thought of sleeping with "Drops,**
but now each one wished his turn, for
the sake of a laughable story. Every-
body went there for a little glass behind
the husband's back. The affair made so
much noise that even some of the
Goderville gentlemen came to see her.

For a half pint "Drops" would finish
the spectacle with no matter whom, in
a ditch, behind a wall, anywhere, while
the silhouette of the motionless Gargan
could be seen knitting a stocking not a
hundred feet from there, surrounded by
his bleating flock. And they laughed
about it enough to make themselves ill
in all the cafis of the country. It was
the only thing talked of in the evening
before the fire; and upon the road, the
first thing one would ask: — ^**Have you
paid your drop to 'Drops*?** Everyone
knew what that meant.

The shepherd never seemed to see



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THE DEAF-MUTE



515



anything. But one day the Poirot boy,
of Sasseville, called to Gargan's wife
from behind the mill, showing her a full
bottle. She understood and ran to him
laughing. Now, scarcely were they en-
gaged in their criminal deed when the
herdsman fell upon them as if he had
come out of a cloud. Poirot fled at full
speed, his breeches about his heels,
while the deaf-mute, with the cry of a
beast, sprang at his wife's throat.

The people working in the fields ran
toward them. It was too late; her
tongue was black, her eyes were coming
out of her head, the blood was flowing
from her nose. She was dead.

The shepherd was tried by the Judge
at Rouen. As he was a mute, Picot
served as interpreter. The details • of
the affair amused the audience very
much. But the farmer had but one
idea: his herdsman must be acquitted.
And he went about it in earnest.

At first, he related the deaf-mute's
whole story, including that of his mar-
riage; then, when he came to the crime,
he himself questioned the assassin.

The assemblage was very quiet.

Picot pronounced the words slowly:
"Did you know that she had deceived
you?" and at the same time he asked the
question with his eyes in pantomime.

The other answered "No" with his
head.

"Were you asleep in the mill when
you surprised her?" And he made a ges-
ture of a man seeing some disgusting
thing.

The other answered "Yes" with his
head.

Then the farmer, imitating the signs
of the mayor who married them, and of
the priest who united them in the name



of God, asked his servant if he had
killed his wife because she was bound
to him before men and before heaven.

The shepherd answered "Yes" with
his head.

Picot then said to him: "Come, tell
us how it happened."

Then the deaf-mute reproduced the/
whole scene in pantomime. He showed
how he was asleep in the mill; that he
was awakened by feeling the straw
move; that he had watched quietly and
had seen the whole thing.

He rose, between the two policemen,
and brusquely imitated the obscene
movement of the criminal couple en-
tangled before him.

A tumultuous laugh went through the
hall, then stopped short; for the herds-
man, with haggard eyes, moving his jaw
and his great beard as if he had bitten
something, with arms extended, and
head thrown forward, repeated the ter-
rible action of a murderer who strangles
a being.

And he howled frightfully, so excited
with anger that one would think he be^^
lieved he still held her in his grasp; and
the policemen were obliged to seize him
and seat him by force in order to calm
him.

A great shiver of agony ran through
the assembly. Then master Picot, plac
ing his hand upon his servant's shoulder,
said simply: "He knows what bono?
is, this man does."

And the shepherd was acquitted.

As for me, my dear friend, I listened
to this adventure to its close, much
moved, and have related it to you in
gross terms in order not to change the
farmer's story. But now there is a re-
port of a gun from the woods, and the



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



formidable voice of Gaspard is heard
growling in the wind, like the sound of
a cannon:

"Woodcock! There is one."



And this is how I employ my time^
watching for the woodcock to pass, while
you are also going to the Bois to see the
first winter costumes.



Magnetism



It was at the close of a dinner-party
of men, at the hour of endless cigars and
incessant sips of brandy, amid the
smoke and the torpid warmth of diges-
tion, and the slight confusion of heads
generated by such a quantity of eatables
and by the absorption of so many dif-
ferent liquors.

Those present were talking about
magnetism, about Donato's tricks,
and about Doctor Charcot's ex-
periences. All of a sudden, those men,
so sceptical, so happy-go-lucky, so in-
different to religion of every sort, be-
gan telling stories about strange occur-
rences, incredible things which neverthe-
less had really happened, they con-
tended, falling back into superstitions,
beliefs, clinging to these last remnants
of the marvelous, becoming devotees
to this mystery of magnetism, defending
it in the name of science. There was
only one person who smiled, a vigorous
young fellow, a great pursuer of girls of
light behavior, and a hunter also of
frisky matrons, in whose mind there was
so much incredulity about everything
that he woiild not even enter upon a dis-
cussion of such matters.

He repeated with a sneer:

"Humbug! humbug! humbug! We
need not discuss Donate, who is merely
% very smart juggler. As for M. Char-



cot, who is said to be a remarkable man
of science, he produces on me the effect
of those story-teDers of the school of
Edgar Allan Poe, who go mad through
constantly reflecting on queer cases of
insanity. He has set forth some nervous
phenomena, which are unexplained and
inexplicable ; he makes his way into that
unknown region which men explore
every day, and not being able to com-
prehend what he sees, he remembers per-
haps too well the explanations of certain
mysteries given by priests. Besides, I
would like to hear him speaking on
these subjects; that would be quite a dif-
ferent thing from your repetition of
what he says."

The words of the unbeliever were lis-
tened to with a kind of pity, as if he
had blasphemed in the midst of an
assembly of monks.

One of these gentlemen exclaimed:

"And yet miracles were performed in
former days."

But the other replied: "I deny it.
Why cannot they be performed any
longer?"

Thereupon, each man referred to some
fact, or some fantastic presentiment, or
some instance of souls communicating
with each other across space, or some
use of secret influences produced by one
being or another. And they asserted, they



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MAGNETISM



517



maintained, that these things had actu-
ally occurred, while the sceptic went on
repeating energetically: "Humbug! hum-
bug! humbug!"

At last he rose up, threw away his
cigar, and with his hands in his pockets
said: "Well, I, too, am going to relate
to you two stories, and then I will ex-
plain them to you. Here they are:

"In the little village of Etretat, the
men, who are all seafaring folk, go every
year to Newfoimdland to fish for cod.
Now, one night the little son of one of
these fishermen woke up with a start,
crying out that his father was dead. The
child was quieted, and again he woke up
exclaiming that his father was drowned.
A month later the news came that his
father had, in fact, been swept off the
deck of his smack by a billow. The
widow then remembered how her son
had awaked and spoken of his father's
death. Everyone said it was a miracle,
and the affair caused a great sensation.
The dates were compared, and it was
found that the accident and the dream
had very nearly coincided, whence they
drew the conclusion that they had hap-
pened on the same night and at the same
hour. And there is the mystery of
magnetism."

The story-teller stopped suddenly.

Thereupon, one of those who had
heard him much affected by the narra-
tive, asked:

"And can you explain this?**

"Perfectly, Monsieur. I have dis-
covered the secret. The circumstance
surprised me and even embarrassed me
very much; but I, you see, do not be-
lieve on principle. Just as others begin
by believing, I begin by doubting; and
when I don't at all understand, I con-



tinue to deny that there can be any tele-
graphic communication between souls,
certain 'that my own sagacity will be
enough to explain it. Well, I have gone
on inquiring into the matter, and I have
ended, by dint of questioning all the
wives of the absent seamen, in convinc-
ing myself that not a week passes with-
out one of themselves or their children
dreaming and declaring when they wake
that the father was drowned. The hor-
rible and continual fear of this accident
makes them always talk about it. Now,
if one of these frequent predictions coin-
cides, by a very simple chance, with the
death of the person referred to, people
at once declare it to be a miracle; for
they suddenly lose sight of all the other
predictions of misfortune that have re-
mained unconfirmed. I have myself
known fifty cases where the persons who
made the prediction forgot all about it
in a week afterward. But if, in fact, the
man was dead, then the recollection of
the thing immediately revived, and peo-
ple will be ready to believe in the in-
tervention of God, according to some,
and in magnetism, according to others.**

One of the smokers remarked:

"What you say is right enough; but
what about your second story?"

"Oh! my second story is a very deli-
cate matter to relate. It is to myself
it happened, and so I don't place any
great value on my own view of the mat-
ter. One is never a good judge in a case
where he is one of the parties concerned.
At any rate, here it is:

"Among my acquaintances in society
there was a young woman on whom I
had never bestowed a thought, whom I
had never even looked at attwitively.



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



never taken any noticje of, as the say-
ing is.

^'I classed her among the women of
no importance, though she was not quite
bad-looking; in fact, she appeared to
me to possess eyes, a nose, a mouth,
some sort of hair — ^just a colorless type
of coimtenance. She was one of those
beings on whom one only thinks by ac-
cident, without taking any particular in-
terest in the individual, and who never
excites desire.

"Well, one night, as I was writing
some letters by my own fireside before
going to bed, I was conscious, in the
midst of that train of sensual images
that sometimes float before one's brain
in moments of idle reverie, while I held
the pen in my hand, of a kind of light
breath passing into my soul, a little
shudder of the heart and immediately,
without reason, without any logical con-
nection of thought, I saw distinctly, saw
as if I had touched her, saw from head
to foot, uncovered, this young woman
for whom I had never cared save in the
most superficial manner when her name
happened to recur to my mind. And all
of a sudden I discovered in her a heap
of qualities which I had never before
observed, a sweet charm, a fascination
that made me languish; she awakened in
me that sort of amorous uneasiness
which sends you in pursuit of a womdn.
But I did not remain thinking of her
long. I went to bed and was soon
asleep. And I dreamed.

**You have all had these strange
dreams which render you masters of the
impossible, which open to you doors that
cannot be passed through, unexpected
ioys, impenetrable arms!

**Which of us in these agitated, excit-



ing palpitating slumbers, has not hdd,
clasped, embraced, possessed with an ex-
traordinary acuteness of sensation, the
woman with whom our minds were oc-
cupied? And have you ever noticed
what superhuman delight these good for-
tunes of dreams bestow upon us? Into
what mad intoxication they cast you!
With what passionate spasms they shake
you! With what infinite, caressing,
penetrating tenderness they fill your
heart for her whom you hold fainting
and hot in that adorable and sensual illu-
sion which seems so like reality!

"All this I felt with unforgeteible vio-
lence. This woman was mine, so muck
mine that the pleasant warmth of her
skin remained between my fingers, the
odor of her skin remained in my brain,
the taste of her kisses remained on my
lips, the sound of her voice lingered in
my ears, the touch of her clasp still
clung to my side, and the burning charm
of her tenderness still gratified my senses
long after my exquisite but disappoint-
ing awakening.

**And three times the same night I
had a renewal of my dream.

"When the day dawned, she beset me,
possessed me, haunted my brain and my
flesh to such an extent that I no longer
remained one second without thinking
of her.

"At last, not knowing what to do, I
dressed myself and went to see her. As
I went up the stairs to her apartment, I
was so much overcome by emotion that
I trembled and my heart panted; I was
seized with vehement desire from Iiead
to foot.

"I entered the apartment. She rose
up the moment she heard my name pro-



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519



Dounced; and suddenly our eyes met in
a &ced look of astonishment.

"I sat down.

'*I uttered in a faltering tone some
common-places which she seemed not to
hear. I did not know what to say or to
do. Then, abruptly, I flimg myself upon
her, seizing her wiUi both arms; and my
entire dream was accomplished so
quickly, so easily, so madly, that I sud-
denly began to doubt whether I was
really awake. She was, after this, my
mistress for two years."

"What conclusion do you draw from
It?** said a voice.

The story-teller seemed to hesitate.



"The conclusion I draw from it — well,
by Jove, the conclusion is that it was
just a coincidence! And, in the next
place, who can tell? Perhaps it was
some glance of hers which I had not
noticed and which came back that
night to me — one of those mysterious
and unconscious evocations of memory
which often bring before us things ig-
nored by our own consciousness, unper-
ceived by our minds!"

"Let that be just as you wish it," said
one of his table-companions, when the
story was finished, "but if you don't be*
lieve in magnetism after that, you are an
ungrateful fellow, my dear boy!"



In Various Roles



In the following reminiscences will
frequently be mentioned a lady who
played a great part in the annals of the
police from 1848 to 1866. We will call
her "Wanda von Chabert." Bom in
Galicia of German parents, and care-
fully brought up in every way, when
only sixteen she married, from love, a
rich and handsome officer of noble birth.
The young couple, however, lived be-
yond their means, and when the hus-
band died suddenly, two years after they
were married, she was left anything but
well off.

As Wanda had grown accustomed to
luxury and amusement, a quiet life in
her parents* house did not suit her any
longer. Even while she was still in
mourning for her husband, she allowed a
Hungarian magnate to make love to her.
She went off with hun at a venture.



and continued the same extravagant life
which she had led when her husband
was alive, of her own volition. At the
end of 'two years, however, her lover
left her in a town in North Italy, al-
most without means. She was thinking
of going on the stage, when chance pro-
vided her with another resource, which
enabled her to reassert her position in
society. She became a secret police
agent, and soon was one of their most
valuable members. In addition to the
proverbial charm and wit of a Polish
woman, she also possessed high linguis-
tic attainments, and spoke Polish, Rus-
sian, French, German, English, and
Italian, with almost equal fluency and
correctness. Then she had that encyclo-
pedic polish which impresses people
much more than the most profound
learning ;of the ^ectalht. She was very



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



attractive in ^ypearance, and she knew
how to set off her good looks by all the
arts of dress and coquetry.

In addition to this, she was a woman
of the world in the widest sense of the
term; pleasure-loving, faithless, im-
stable; and therefore never in any dan-
ger of really losing her heart, and con-
sequently her head. She used to change
the place of her abode, according to
what she had to do. Sometimes she
lived in Paris among the Polish emi-
grants, in order to fiind out what they
were doing, and maintained intimate re-
lations with the Tuileries and the Palais
Royal at the same time; sometimes she
went to London for a short time, or
hurried off to Italy to watch the Hun-
garian exiles, only to reappear suddenly
in Switzerland, or at one of the fashion-
able German watering-places.

In revolutionary circles, she was
looked upon as an active member of the
great League of Freedom, and diploma-
tists regarded her as an influential friend
of Napoleon III. h

She knew everyone, but especially
those men whose names were to be met
with every day in the journals, and she
coimted Victor Emmanuel, Rouher,
Gladstone, and Gortschakoff among her
friends as well as Mazzini, Kossuth,
Garibaldi, Mieroslawsky, and Bakunin.

In the spring of 185 — she was at
Vevey on the lovely lake of Geneva, and
went into raptures when talking to an
old German diplomatist about the beau-
ties of nature, and about Calame, Stif-
ter, and Turgenev, whose "Diary of a
Hunter," had just become fashionable.
One day a man appeared at the table
d'kdtey who excited unusual attention,
ind hers espedaUy, so that there was



nothing strange in her asking the pro*
prietor of the hotel what his name was*
She was told that he was a wealthy Bra-
zilian, and that his name was Doo
Escovedo.

Whether it was an accident, or
whether he responded to the interest
which the young woman felt for him, at
any rate she constantly met him where-
ever she went, whether taking a walk, or
on the lake or looking at the newspapers
in the reading-room. At last she was
obliged to confess to herself that he was
the handsomest man she had ever seen.
Tall, slim, and yet muscular, the yotmg,
beardless Brazilian had a head which any
woman might envy, features not only
beautiful and noble, but also extremely
delicate, dark eyes which possessed a
wonderful charm, and thick, auburn^
curly hair, which completed the attrac-
tiveness and the strangeness of his
appearance.

They soon became acquainted,
through a Prussian officer whom tho
Brazilian had asked for an introduction
to the beautiful Polish lady — for Frau
von Chabert was taken for one in Vevey.
She, cold and designing as sh^ was,
blushed when he stood before her for
the first time; and when he gave her
his arm, he could feel her hand tremble
slightly on it. The same evening they
went out riding together, the next he
was lying at her feet, and on the third
she was his. For four weeks the lovely
Wanda and the Brazilian lived together
as if they had been in Paradise, but he
could not deceive her searching eye?
any longer.

Her sharp and practiced eye had al-
ready discovered in him that indefinable
something which makes a man appear a



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521



auspicious character. Any other woman
would have been pained and horrified at
such a discovery, but she found the
strange consolation in it. that her hand-
some adorer promised also to become a
very interesting object for pursuit, and
so she began systematically to watch the
man who lay unsuspectingly at her feet.

She soon found out that he was no
conspirator; but she asked herself in
vain whether she was to look for a com*
mon swindler, an impudent adventurer,
or perhaps even a criminal in him. The
day that she had foreseen soon came;
the Brazilian's banker "unaccountably"
had omitted to send him any money,
and so he borrowed some of her. "So
be is a male courtesan," she said to her-
self. The handsome man soon required
money again, and she lent it to him
again. Then at last he left suddenly
and nobody knew where he had gone
to; only Uiis much, that he had left
Vevey as the companion of an old but
wealthy Wallachian lady. So this time
clever Wanda was duped.

A year afterward she met the
Brazilian unexpectedly at Lucca, with an
insipid-looking, light-haired, thin Eng-
lishwoman on his arm. Wanda stood
still and looked at him steadily; but he
glanced at her quite indifferently; he did
not choose to know her again.

The next morning, however, his valet
brought her a letter from him, which
contained the amount of his debt in
Italian hundred-lure notes, accompanied
by a very cool excuse. Wanda was
satisfied, but she wished to find out who
the lady was, in whose company she
constantly saw Don Escovedo.

•Don Escovedo."



An Austrian count, who had a loud
and silly laugh, said:

"Who has saddled you with that
yam? The lady is Lady Nitingsdale,
and his name is Romanesco."

"Romanesco?''

"Yes, he is a rich Boyar from Mol*
davia, where he has extensive estates."

Romanesco ran a faro bank in his
apartments, and certainly cheated, for
he nearly always won; it was not long,
therefore, before other people in good
society at Lucca shared Madame von
Chabert's suspicions, and, consequently,
Romanesco thought it advisable to van-
ish as suddenly from Lucca as Escovedo
had done from Vevey, and without leav-
ing any more traces behind him.

Some time afterward, Madame von
Chabert was on the island of Heligoland,
for the sea-bathing; and one day she
saw Escovedo-Romanesco sitting oppo-
site to her at the table d'hote, in very
animated conversation with a Russian
lady; only his hair had turned black
since she had seen him last. Evidently
his light hair had become too compro-
mising for him.

"The sea-water seems to have a very
remarkable effect upon your hair,"
Wanda said to him spitefully in a whis-
per.

"Do you think so?" he replied, con-
descendingly.

"I fancy that at one time your hair
was fair."

"You are mistaking me for some-
body else," the Brazilian replied,
quietly.

"I am not."

"For whom do you take me, pray?**
he said with an insolent smile.

"FoT Don Escovedo."



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



"I am Count Dembizki from Valky-
lua," the former Brazilian said with a
bow; "perhaps you would like to see
my passport."

'Well, perhaps—"

And he had the impudence to show
her his false passport.

A year afterward Wanda met Count
Dembizki in Baden, near Vienna. His
hair was still black, but he had a mag-
nificent, full, black beard; he had be-
come a Greek prince, and his name was
Anastasio Maurokordatos. She met him
once in one of the side walks in the
park, where he could not avoid her. "If
it goes on like this," she called out to
him in a mocking voice, "the next time
I see you, you will be king of some
negro tribe or other."

That time, however, the Brazilian did
not deny his identity; on the contrary,
he surrendered at discretion, and im-
plored her not to betray him. As she
was not revengeful she pardoned him,
after enjoying his terror for a time, and
promised him that she would hold her
tongue, as long as he did nothing con-
trary to the laws.

"First of all, I must beg you not to
gamble."

"You have only to command; and we
do not know each other in the future."

"I must certainly insist on that," she
said maliciously.

The "Exotic Prince" had, however,
made a conquest of the charming daugh-
ter of a wealthy Austrian count, and
had cut out an excellent young officer,
who was wooing her. The latter, in his
despair, began to make love to Frau von
Chabert, and at last told her he loved
her. But she only laughed at him.



"You are very cruel," he stammered
in confusion.

"I? What are you thinking about?"
Wanda replied, still smiling; "all I



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