Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

. (page 81 of 125)
Online LibraryGuy de MaupassantThe complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant → online text (page 81 of 125)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

son, it was love, it was the ideal. I was
sentimental, when I ought to have been
using my time to a better purpose.

"As soon as she had had enough of
my declarations of affection, she got up,
and we returned to Saint-Cloud, but I
did not leave her until we got to Paris.
But she looked so sad as we were re-
turning, that at last I asked her what
Vas the matter.

"*I am thinking,* she replied, 'that
this has been one of those days of
which we have but few in life.'

"And my heart beat as if it would
treak my ribs.

"I saw her on the following Sunday,
and the next Sunday, and every Sun-
day. I took her to Bougival, Saint-

Germain, Maison-Lafitte, Poissy; to
every suburban resort of lovers.

"The little jade, in turn, pretended to
love me, until, at last, I altogether lost
my head, and three months later I
married her.

"What can you expect, Monsieur,
when a man is a clerk, living alone,
without any relations, or anyone to ad-
vise him? You say to yourself: *How
sweet life would be with a wife!'

"And so you get married, and she
calls you names from morning till night,
understands nothing, knows nothing,
chatters continually, sings the song of
Musette at the top of her voice (oh!
that song of Musette, how tired one gets
of it!); quarrels with the charcoal
dealer, tells the porter all her domestic
details, confides all the secrets of her
bedroom to the neighbor's servant, dis-
cusses her husband with the tradespeo-
ple, and has her head so stuffed with
stupid stories, with idiotic superstitions,
with extraordinary ideas, and monstrous
prejudices, that I— for what I have said,
y»pplies particularly to myself — shed
tears of discouragement every time I
talk to her."

He stopped, as he was rather out of
breath, and very much moved. I looked
at him, for I felt pity for this poor,
artless devil, and I was just going to
give him some sort of answer, when the
boat stopped. We were at Saint-Cloud.

The little woman who had so taken
my fancy got up in order to land. She
passed close to me, and gave me a side
glance and a furtive smile — one of
those smiles that drive you wild; then
she jumped on the landing-stage. I
sprang forward to follow her, but my

Digitized by




fidghbor laid hold of my arm. I shook
myself loose, however, whereupon he
seized the skirt of my coat, and pulled
me back, exclaiming:

"You shall not go! You shall not
go!" in such a loud voice, that every-
body turned round and laughed. I re-
mained standing motionless and furious,

but without venturing to face scandal
and ridicule, and the steamboat started.

The little woman on the landing-stage
looked at me as I went off with an air
of disappointment, while my persecutor
rubbed his hands and whispered to me:

'Tou must admit that I have done
you a great service,"

The Real One and the Other

**Well, really," said Chasseval, stand-
ing with his back to the fire, "could
any of those respectable shopkeepers
and wine-growers have possibly believed
that that pretty little Parisian woman,
with soft innocent eyes, like those of a
Madonna, with smiling lips and golden
hair, who always dressed so simply, was
their candidate's mistress?"

She was a wonderful help to himi, and
accompanied him even to the most out-
lying farms; went to the meetings in
the small village cajis, had a pleasant
and suitable word for everyone, did not
recoil at a glass of mulled wine or a
grip of the hand, and was always ready
to join the farandole,* She seemed to
be so in love with Eli^ane Rulhi^re, to
trust him so entirely, to be so proud
of forming half of his life, and of be-
longing to him, giving him such looks
full of pleasure and of hope, and listen-
ing to all he said so intently, that
voters who might have hesitated allowed
themselves by degrees to be talked over
and persuaded, and promised their votes
to the young doctor whose name they
never heard mentioned in the district

That electoral campaign had been like
a truant's escapade for Jane Dardenne;
it was a delightful and imexpected
holiday, and as she was an actress at
heart, she played her part seriously, and
threw herself into her character, en-
joying herself more than she had ever
enjoyed herself in her most adventurous

And then there came in the pleasure
of being taken for a woman of the
world, of being flattered, respected, and
envied, of getting out of the usual
groove for a time, and also the dream
that this journey of a few weeks would
have this result, that her lover would
not separate from her on their return,
but would sacrifice the woman whom
he no longer loved, and whom he ironi-
cally used to call his "Cinderella," to

At night, when they had laid aside
all pretense, and were alone in their
room in the hotel, she coaxed him and
flattered him, spurred his ambition on,
threw her quivering arms aroimd him,

♦A dance in Provence in which the
dancers form a chain, and the movement&
are directed by the leader.

Digitized by




and amid her kisses, whispered those
words to him which make a man proud,
warm his heart, and give him strength,
-^^ike a dram of alcohol.

The two between them captured the
district, and won the election easily, for
in spite of his youth, Eli6ane Rulhi^re
was elected by a majority of five thou-
sand. Then, of course, there were more
fetes and banquets, at which Jane was
present, and where she was received
with enthusiastic shouts; there were fire-
works, where she was obliged to set light
to the first rocket, and balls at which
she astonished these worthy x>eople by
her affability. And when they left, three
little giris dressed in white, as if they
were going to be confirmed, came on
to the platform and recited some verses
complimentary to her, while the band
played the "Marseillaise," the women
waved their pocket handkerchiefs, and
the men their hats; and leaning out of
the carriage window, looking charming
in heir traveling costume, with a smile
on her lips and moist eyes, as was fitting
at such a pathetic leave-taking, actress
as she was, with a sudden and childlike
gesture she blew kisses to them from
the tips of her fingers, and said:

^Good-bye, my friends, good-bye,
only for the present; I shall never for-
get you!"

The deputy, who was also very effu-
sive, had invited his principal supporters
to come and see him in Paris, as there
were plenty of excursion trains. They
all took him at his word, and Rulhi^re
was obliged to invite them all to dinner.

In order to avoid any possible mis-
haps, he gave his wife a foretaste of
their guests. He told her that they
were rather noi^, talkative^ and un-

polished, and that they would, no doubt,
astonish her by their manners and their
accent, but that, as they had great in-
fluence, and were excellent men, they
deserved a good reception. It was a
very useful precaution, for when they
came into the drawing-room in their
new clothes, beaming with pleasure, and
with hair pomatumed as if they had
been going to a country wedding, they
felt inclined to fall down before the
new Madame Rulhi^re to whom the
deputy introduced them, and who seemed
to be perfectly at home there.

At first they were embarrassed, fdt
imcomfortable, and out of place, did
not know what to say, and had to seek
their words. They buttoned and un-
buttoned their gloves, answered her
questions at random, and racked their
brains to discover the solution of the
enigma. Captain Mouredus looked at
the fire, with the fixed gaze of a som-
nambulist; Marius Barbaste scratched
his fingers mechanically; while the
three others, the factory manager,
Casemajel, Roquetton, the lawyer, and
Dustugue, the hotel proprietor, looked
at Rulhi^re anxiously.

The lawyer was the first to recover
himself. He got up from his armchair
laughing heartily, <iug the deputy in the
ribs with his elbow, and said:

"I imderstand it all, I imderstand it;
you thought that people do not come to
Paris to be bored, eh? Madame is de-
lightful, and I congratulate you. Mon-

He gave a wmk, and made signs
behind his back to his friends, and then
the captain had his turn.

"We are not boobies, and that fellow
Roauetton is the most knowintr of the

Digitized by LjOOQ IC



lot of us. Ah! Monsieur Rulhiere,
without any exaggeration, you are the
cream of gooc fellows."

And with a flushed face, and expand-
ing his chest, he said sonorously:

"They certainly turn them out very
pretty in your part of the country, my
little lady!"

Madame Rulhi^re, who did not know
what to say, had gone to her husband
for protection; but she felt much in-
clined to go to her own room under some
pretext or other, in order to escape from
her intolerable task. She kept her
ground, however, during the whole of
dinner, which was a noisy, jovial meal,
during which the five electors, with their
elbows on the table, and their waist-
coats unbuttoned, and half drunk, told
coarse stories and swore like troopers.
But as the coffee and the liqueurs were
served in the smoking-room she took
leave of her guests in an inpatient voice,
and went to her own room with the

hasty step of an escaped prisoner, who
is afraid of being retaken.

The electors sat staring after her with
gaping mouths, and Mouredus lit a
cigar, and said:

"Just listen to me, Monsieur Rul-
hi^re; it was very kind of you to in-
vite us here, to your little quiet estab-
lishment, but to speak to you frankly,
I should not in your place wrong my
lawful wife for such a stuck-up piece
of goods as this one fa."

"The captain is quite right,'* Roquet-
ton the notary opined; "Madame Rul-
hi^re, the lawful Madame Rulhiere, is
much more amiable and altogether nicer.
You are a scoundrel to deceive her:
but when may we hope to see her?"

And with a paternal grimace, he

"But do not be imeasy, we will all
hold our tongues; it would be too sad
if she were to find it out." ♦

The Carter's Wench

The driver, who had jumped from his
box, was now walking slowly by the
side of his thin horses, waking them up
every moment by a cut of the whip or
a coarse oath. He pointed to the top
of the hill, where the windows of a
solitary house, although it was very late
and quite dark, were shining like yellow
lamps, and said to me:

"One gets good liquor there, Mon-
sieur, and well served, by George!"

His eyes flashed in his thin, sunburned
face, which was a deep brickdust color.

and he smacked his h'ps like a drunkard,
at the remembrance of a bottle of prime
liquor that he had lately imbibed. Then
drawing himself up in his blouse he
shivered like an ox, when it is sharply
pricked with the goad.

^Tes — ^well served by a wench who
will turn your head for you before you
have tilted your elbow and drunk a

The moon was rising behind the snow-
covered mountain peaks, reddening
them to blood with its rays, and tingeing

Digitized by




the dark, brokea clouds, which whirled
and floated about the summits, remind-
ing the traveler of some terrible
Medusa's head. The gloomy plains of
Capsir, which are traversed by torrents,
extensive meadows in which undefined
forms were moving about, fields of rye
like huge golden tablecovers, and here
and there wretched villages and broad
sheets of water, into which the stars
gazed in melancholy manner, opened out
to the view. Damp gusts of wind swept
along the road, bringing a strong smell
of hay, of resin, and of unknown flowers
with them, and erratic masses of rock,
which were scattered on the surface like
huge boundary stones, presented spectral

The driver pulled his broad-brimmed
felt hat over his eyes, twirled his large
mustache, and said in an obsequious

"Does Monsieur wish to stop here?
This b the place!"

It was a wretched, wayside public-
house, with a reddish slate roof, that
looked as if it were suffering from
leprosy. Before the door there stood
three wagons drawn by mules and
loaded with huge stems of trees, which
took up nearly the whole of the road.
The animals, who were used to halting
there, were dozing, and their heavy loads
exhaled the smell of a pillaged forest.

Inside, three wagoners, one of whom
was an old man, while the other two
were young, were sitting in front of the
fire, which crackled loudly. There were
bottles and glasses on a large round
table by their side, and they were sing-
ing and laughing boisterously. A wo-
man with large round hips, and with a
lace cap pinned on to her hair, in the

Catalan fashion, who looked strong and
bold, had a certain amount of graceful-
ness about her, and a pretty, but un-
tidy head, was urging them to undo the
strings of their great leather purses.
She replied to their somewhat indelicate
jokes in a shrill voice, as she sat on
the knee of the youngest and allowed
him to kiss her and caress her without
any signs of shame.

The coachman pushed open the dooi
like a man who knows that he is at

*'Good evening, Glaizette, and every-
body; there is room for two more, I

The wagoners did aot speak, but
looked at us furtively and angrily, like
dogs whose food has been taken from
then>, and who show their teeth, ready
to bite. The girl shrugged her shoul*
ders, and looked into their eyes like
some female wild-beast tamer; then she
asked us with a strange smile:

*'What am I to get you?"

''Two glasses of cognac and the best
you have in the cupboard, Glaizette,"
the coachman replied, rolling a cigarette.

While she was uncorking the bottle I
noticed how green her eyeballs were;
it was a fascinating, tempting green,
like the hue of the great green grass-
hopper. I saw, too, how small her hands
were, which showed that she did not use
them much. Her teeth were very white,
and her voice, which was rather rough,
though cooing, had a cruel, and at the
same time a coaxing, sound. I fancied
I saw her, as in a vision, reclining
triumphantly on a couch, indifferent to
the fights which were goinsr on about
her, always waiting, longing for him who
would prove himself the stronger and

Digitized by




come out victorious. She was, in short,
a hospitable dispenser of love, by the
side of that difficult, stony road, who
opened her arms to poor men, and made
them forget everything in the profusion
of her kisses. She probably knew se-
crets which nobody in the world besides
herself should know, secrets which her
sealed lips would carry away inviolate
to the other world. She could never
yet have loved, and would never really
love, because she was vowed to passing
kisses, which are so soon forgotten.

I was anxious to escape from her as
soon as possible; to fly from the spell
of her pale, green eyes, and her mouth
that bestowed caresses from pure char-
ity, to feel her beautiful white hands no
longer so near me. So I threw her a
piece of gold and made my escape with-
out saying a word, without waiting for
any change, and without even wishing
her good night, for I felt the caress of
her smile, and the disdainful restlessness
of her looks.

The carriage started off at a gallop to
Formigu^res, amid a furious jingling
of bells. I could not sleep any more;
I wanted to know where that woman
came from, but I was ashamed to ask
the driver, or to show any interest in
such a creature. But when he began
to talk, as we were going up another
hill, divining my sweet thoughts, he told
me all he knew about Glaizette. I lis-
tened to him with the attention of a
child, to whom somebody is telling some
wonderful fairy tale.

She came from Fontp^drouze, a
muleteers' village, where the men spend
their time in drinking and gambling at
the inn, when they are not traveling on

the highroads with their mules. The
women do all the field work, carry the
heaviest loads on their back, and lead a
life of pain and misery.

Her father kept an inn, and the girl
grew up very happily. She was courted
before she was fifteen, and was so
coquettish that she was generally found
in front of her looking-glass, smiling
at her own beauty, arranging her hair,
and trying to make herself like a young
I-idy on the prado. Now as none of the
family knew how to keep a half -penny,
but spent more than they earned, re-
sembling cracked jugs, from which the
water escapes drop by drop, they found
themselves ruined one fine day, just as
if they had been at the bottom of a
blind alley. So on the Feast of our
Lady of Succor, when people go on a
pilgrhnage to Font Romea, and the vil-
lages are consequently deserted, the inn-
keeper set fire to the house. The crime
was discovered through La Glaizette,
who could not make up her mind to
leave the looking-glass with which her
room was adorned behind her, and so
had carried it off imder her petticoat.

The parents were sentenced to many
years'' imprisonment. CompeUed to live
the best way she could, the girl became
a servant, passed from hand to hand,
inherited some property from an old
farmer whom she had caught as you
catch a thrush on a twig covered with
bird-lime, and with the money had built
this public-house on the new road which
was being built across the Capsir.

"A regular bad one, Monsieur," said
the coachman in conclusion, "a vixen
such as one does not see now in the
worst garrison towns, one who would

Digitized by




open the door to the whole confraternity,
yet not at all avaricious, and thoroughly

I interrupted him in spite of myself,
as if his words had pained me. I
thought of those pale green eyes, those
magic eyes, eyes to be dreamed about,
which were the color of grasshoppers.
I looked for them, and saw them in the

darkness; they danced before me like
phosphorescent lights, and I would have
given the whole contents of my purse to
that man if he would only have been
silent and have urged his horses on to
full speed, so that their mad gallop
might carry me off quickly, quickly and
further, continually further from that

The Rendezvous

Although she had her bonnet and
jacket on, with a black veil over her
face, and another in her pocket, which
would be put on over the other as soon
as she had got into a cab, she was tap-
ping the top of her little boot with the
point of her parasol, and remained sit-
ting in her room, unable to make up her
mind to keep this appointment.

And yet how many times within the
last two years had she dressed herself
thus, when she knew that her husband
would be on the Stock Exchange, in or-
der to go to the bachelor chambers of
handsome Viscount de Martelet.

The clock behind her was ticking
loudly, a book which she had half read
was lying open on a little rosewood
writing-table, between the windows, and
a strong sweet smell of violets from two
bunches in Dresden china vases mingled
with a vague smell of verbena which
came through the half-open door of her

The clock struck three, she rose up
from her chair, turned round to look at
herself in the glass and smiled. 'Tie is

already waiting for me, and will be
getting tired."

Then she left the room, told her foot-
man that she would be back in an hour,
at the latest — ^which was a lie — ^went
downstairs, and ventured into the street
on foot.

It was toward the end of May, that
delightful time of the year when spring
seems to be besieging Paris, flowing ovei
its roofs, invading its houses through
their walls, and making the city look
gay, shedding brightness over its granite
facades, the asphalt of its pavements,
the stones on its streets, bathing and
intoxicating it with new life, like a
forest putting on its spring vesture,

Madame Haggan went a few steps to
the right, intending, as usual, to go along
the Parade Provence, where she would
hail a cab. But the soft air, that feel-
ing of summer which penetrates our
breasts on some days, now took posses-
sion of her so suddenly that she changed
her mind and went down the Rue de la
Chauss6e d'Antin, without knowing why,
but vaguely attracted by a desire te see
the trees in the Place da la Trinitt

Digitized by




"He may just wait ten minutes longer
for me," she said to herself. And the
idea pleased her as she walked slowly
through the crowd. She fancied that
she saw him growing impatient, looking
at the clock, opening the window, listen-
ing at the 'door, sitting down for a few
moments, getting up again, not daring
to smoke, as she had forbidden him to
do so when she was coming to him, and
throwing despairing looks at his box of

She walked slowly, interested in what
she saw, the shops and the people she
met, walking slower and slower, and so
little eager to get to her destination,
that she only sought for some pretext
for stopping. At the end of the street,
in the little square, Uie green lawns at-
tracted her so much that she went in,
took a chair, and, sitting down, watched
the hands of the clock as they moved.

Just then, the half hour struck, and
her heart beat with pleasure when she
heard the chimes. She had gained half-
an-hour, then it would take her a quar-
ter of an hour to reach the Rue de
Miromesnil, and a few minutes more in
strolling along — an hour! a whole hour
saved from her rendezvous ! She would
not stop three-quarters of an hour, and
that business would be finished once

She disliked going there as a patient
dislikes going to the dentist. She had
an intolerable recollection of all their
past meetings, one a week on an aver-
age, for the last two years; and the
thought that another was to take place
immediately made her shiver with
misery from head to foot. Not that it
was exactly painful, like a visit to the
dentist, but it was wearisome, so weari-

some, so complicated, so long, so un-
pleasant, that anything, even a visit to
the dentist, would have seemed prefer-
able to her.

She went on, however, but very
slowly, stopping, sitting down, going
hither and thither, but she went. Ohi
how she would have Hked to miss this
meeting, but she had left the unhappy
Viscount in the lurch, twice running,
during the last month, and she did not
dare to do it again so soon. Why did
she go to see him? Oh! why? Because
she had acquired the habit of doing it,
and had no reason to give poor Martelet
when he wanted to know the why! Why
had she begun it? Why? She did not
know herself, any longer. Had she
been in love with him? Very possibly!
Not very much, but a little, a long time
ago! He was very nice, much sought
after, perfectly dressed, most courteous,
and after the first glance, he was a per-
fect lover for a fashionable woman.

He had courted her for three months
— the normal period, an honorable strife
and sufl5cient resistance — and then sha
had consented. What emotion, what
nervousness, what terrible, delightful
fear, attended that first meeting in his
small, ground-floor bachelor rooms, in
the Rue de Miromesnil. Her heart?
What did her little heart of a woman
who had been seduced, vanquished, con-
quered, feel when she for the first time
entered the door of the house which was
her nightmare? She really did not
know! She had quite forgotten. One
remembers a fact, a date, a thing, but
one hardly remembers, after the lapse
of two years, what an emotion, which
soon vanished because it was very slight,
was like. But she had certainly not

Digitized by




forgotten the others, that rosary of
meetings, that road to the cross of love
and its stations, which were so monoto-
nous, so fatiguing, so similar to each
other, that she felt nauseated.

The very cabs were not like the other
cabs which you use for ordinary pur-
poses! Certainly, the cabmen guessed.
She felt sure of it, by the very way they
looked at her, and the eyes of these
Paris cabmen are terrible! When you
realize that these jehus constantly iden-
tify in the Courts of Justice, after a
lapse of several years, the faces of
criminals whom they have only driven
once, in the middle of the night, from
some street or other to a railway sta-
tion, and that they carry daily almost
as many passengers as there are hours in
the day, and that their memory is good
enough for them to declare: "That is
the man whom I took up in the Rue des
Martyrs, and put down at the Lyons

Online LibraryGuy de MaupassantThe complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant → online text (page 81 of 125)