Guy de Maupassant.

The complete short stories of Guy de Maupassant online

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ing in his mind. Was this love?

He did not know, he understood noth-
ing of it, but the fact remained that he
was fully decided to make this chfld
his wife.

Her parents hesitated a long time, de-
terred by the bad reputation of the
young man. He had a mistress, it was
said, — ^an old mistress, an old and strcmg
entanglement, one of those chains that
is believed to be broken, but which con-
tinues to hold, nevertheless. Beyond



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this, he had loved, for a longer or shorter
period, every woman who had come
within reach of his lips.

But he withdrew from the woman with
whom he had lived, not even consent-
ing to see her again. A friend arranged
her pension, assining her a subsistence.
Jack paid, but he did not wish to speak
to her, pretending henceforth that he
did not know her name. She wrote
letters which he would not open. Each
week brought him a new disguise in the
handwriting of the abandoned one. Each
week a greater anger developed in him
against her, and he would tear the en-
velope in two, without opening it, with-
out reading a line, knowing beforehand
the reproaches and complaints of the
contents.

One could scarcely credit her per-
severance, which lasted the whole winter
long, and it was not until spring that her
demand was satisfied.

The marriage took place in Paris dur-
ing the early part of May. It was de-
cided that they should not take the reg-
ular wedding journey. After a little
ball, composed of a company of young
cousins who would not stay past eleven
o'clock, and would not prolong forever
the care of the day of ceremony, the
young couple intended to pass their first
night at the family home and to set out
the next morning for the seaside, where
they had met and loved.

The night came, and they were danc-
ing in the great drawing-room. The
newly-married pair had withdrawn from
the rest into a little Japanese boudoir
shut off by silk hangings, and scarcely
lighted this evening except by the dim
rays from a colored lantern in the shape
of an enormous egg, which hung from



the ceiling. The long window was
open, allowing at times a fresh breath
of air from without to blow upon their
faces, for the evening was soft and
warm, full of the odor of springtime.

They said nothing, but held each
other's hands, pressing them from time
to time with all their force. She was a
little dismayed by this great change in
her life, but smiling, emotional, ready to
weep, often ready to swoon from joy,
believing the entire world changed be-
cause of what had come to her, a little
disturbed without knowing the reason
why, and feeling all her body, all her
soul, enveloped in an indefinable, de-
licious lassitude.

Her husband she watched persistently,
smiling at him with a fixed smile. Hq
wished to talk but found nothing to say,
and remained quiet, putting all his ardor
into the pressure of the hand. From
time to time he murmured "Bertha!"
and each time she raised her eyes to his
with a sweet and tender looL They
would look at each other a moment,
then his eyes, fascinated by hers, would
faU.

They discovered no thought to ex-
change. But they were alone, except as
a dancing couple would sometimes cast
a glance at them in passing, a furtive
glance, as if it were the discreet and
confidential witness of a mystery.

A door at the side opened, a domestic
entered, bearing upon a tray an urgent
letter, which a messenger had brought.
Jack trembled as he took it, seized with
a vague and sudden fear, the mysterious,
abrupt fear of misfortune.

He looked long at the envelope, not
knowing the handwriting, not daring to
open it. wishing not to read, not to



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know the contents, desiring to put it in
his pocket and to say to himself: "To-
morrow, to-morrow, I shall be far
away and it will not matter!'' But
upon the comer were two words under-
lined: very urgent, which frightened him.
"You will permit me, my dear," said
he, and he tore off the wrapper. He
read the letter, growing frightfully pale,
nmning over it at a glance, and then
seeming to spell it out.

When he raised his head his whole
countenance was changed. He stam-
mered: "My dear little one, a great
misfortune has happened to my best
friend. He needs me immediately, in a
matter of— of life and death. Allow me
to go for twenty minutes. I will re-
turn immediately."

She, trembling and affrighted, mur-
mured: "Go, my friend!" not yet be-
ing enough of a wife to dare to ask or
demand to know anything. And he dis-
appeared. She remained alone, listen-
ing to the dance music in the next room.

He had taken a hat, the first he could
find, and descended the staircase upon
the run. As soon as he was mingled
Irith the people on the street, he stopped
under a gaslight in a vestibule and re-
read the letter. It said:

**Sir: The Ravet girl, yout; old mis-
tress, has given birth to a child which she
asserts is yours. The mother is dying
and implores you to visit her. I take
the liberty of writing to you to ask
whether you will grant the last wish of
this woman, who seems to be very un-
happy and worthy of pity.
"Your servant,

D. BONNARD."

When he entered the chamber of
death, she was already in the last agony.



He would not have known her. The phj^
sician and the two nurses were caring
for her, dragging across the room some
buckets full of ice and linen.

Water covered the floor, two tapers
were burning on a table; behind the
bed, in a little wicker cradle, a child
was crying, and, with each of its cries,
the mother wotdd try to move, shivenng
under the icy compresses.

She was bleeding, wounded to death,
killed by this birth. Her life was slq[>-
ping away; and, in spite of the ice, in
spite of all care, the hemorrhage con-
tinued, hastening her last hour.

She recognized Jack, and tried to raise
her hand. She was too weak for that,
but the warm tears began to glide doYm
her cheeks.

He fell on his knees beside the bed,
seized one of her hands and kissed it
frantically; then, little by little, he ap-
proached nearer to the wan face which
strained to meet him. One of the nurses,
standing with a taper in her hand, ob-
served them, and the doctor looked at
them from the remote comer of the
room.

With a far-off voice, breathing hard,
she said: "I am going to die, my dear;
promise me you will remain till the end.
Oh! do not leave me now, not at the
last moment!"

He kissed her brow, her hair with a
groan. "Be tranquil!" he murmured, ^
will stay."

It was some minutes before she was
able to speak again, she was so weak
and overcome. Then she continued:
"It is yours, the little one. I swear it
before God, I swear it to you upon my
soul, I swear it at the moment of death.
I have never loved any man but you-^



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promise xne not to abandon it — '• He
tried to take in his arms tbe poor, weak
body, emptied of its life blood. He
stammered, excited by remorse and
chagrin: "I swear to you I will bring
it up and love it. It shall never be
separated from me." Then she held
Jack in an embrace. Powerless to raise
her head, she held up her blanched lips
in an appeal for a kiss. He bent his
mouth to receive this poor, suppliant
caress.

Calmed a little, she murmured in a
low tone: "Take it, that I may see that
you love it."

He placed it gently on the bed be-
tween them. The little creature ceased
to cry. She whispered: "Do not stirP*
And he remained motionless. There
he stayed, holding in his burning palms
a hand that shook with the shiver of
death, as he had held, an hour before,
another hand that had trembled with
the shiver of love. From time to time
he looked at the hour, with a furtive
glance of the eye, watching the hand
as it passed midnight, then one o'clock,
then two.

The doctor retired. The two niurses,
after roaming aroxmd for some time with
light step, slept now in their chairs.
The child slept, and the mother, whose
eyes were closed, seemed to be resting
also.

Suddenly, as the pale daylight began
^o filter through the torn curtains, she
extended her arms with so startling and
violent a motion that she almost threw
the child upon the floor. There was a
rattling in her throat; then she turned
over motionless, dead.

The nurses hastened to her side, de-
claring: "It is over."



He looked once at this woman he had
loved, then at the hand that marked
four o'clock, and, forgetting his over-
coat, fled in his evening clothes with
the child in his arms.

After she had been left alone, his
young bride had waited calmly at first,
in the Japanese boudoir. Then, seeing
that he did not return, she went back
to the drawing-room, indifferent and
tranquil in appearance, but frightfully
disturbed. Her mother, perceiving hei
alone, asked where her husband was.
She replied: "In his room; he will re-
turn presently."

At the end of an hour, as everybody
asked about him, she told of the letter,
of the change in Jack's face, and her
fears of some misfortune.

They still waited. The guests had
gone; only the parents and ner rela-
tives remained. At midnight, they put
the bride in her bed, shaking with sobs.
Her mother and two aunts were seated
on the bed listening to her weeping.
Her father had gone to the police head-
quarters to make inquiries. At five
o'clock a light sound was heard in the
corridor. The door opened and closed
softly. Then suddenly a cry, like the
mewing of a cat, went through the
house, breaking the silence.

All the women of the house wer«
out with one bound, and Bertha was the
first to spring forward, in spite of her
mother and her aunt, clothed only in
her night-robe.

Jack, standing in the middle of the
room, livid, breathing hard, held the
child in his arms.

The four women looked at him
frightened; but Bertha suddenly became



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WORKS OF GUY DE MAUPASSANT



rash, her heart wrung with anguish, and
ran to him saying: "What is it? What
have you there?"

He had a foolish air, and answered
in a husky voice: "It is — ^it is — ^I have
here a child, whose mother has just
died." And he put into her arms the
howling little marmot.

Bertha, without saying a word, seized
the child and embraced it» straining it to



her heart. Then, turning toward her
husband with her eyes full of tears,
she said: "The mother is dead, you
say?" He answered: "Yes, just died—
in my arms — ^I had broken with her
since last summer — I knew nothing
about it— only the doctor sent for mc
and—"

Then Bertha murmured: "Well, we
will bring up this little one."



Forgiveness



She had been brought up in one of
those families who live shut up within
themselves, entirely apart from the rest
of the world. They pay no attention to
political events, except to chat about
hhem at the table, and changes in
government seem so far, so very far
away that they are spoken of only as
a matter of history — ^like the death of
Louis XVI., or the advent of Napoleon.

Customs change, fashions succeed
each other, but changes are never
perceptible in this family, where old
traditions are always followed. And if
some impossible story arises in the
neighborhood, the scandal of it dies
at the threshold of this house.

The father and mother, alone in the
evening, sometimes exchange a few
words on such a subject, but in an
undertone, as if the walls had ears.

With great discretion, the father says:
"Do you know about this terrible affair
in the Rivoil family?"

And the mother replies: "Who would
have believed it? It is frightful!"

The children doubt nothing, but come



to the age of living, in their turn, with
a bandage over their eyes and minds,
without knowing that one does not
always think as he speaks, nor speaks
as he acts, without knowing that it is
necessary to live at war with the worid,
or at least, in armed peace, without
surmising that the ingenuous are fre-
quently d'^ceived, the sincere trifled
with, and the good wronged.

Some live until death in this blind-
ness of i5robity, loyalty, and honor; so
upright that nothing can open their
eyes. Others, undeceived, without
knowing much, are weighed down with
despair, and die believing that they
are the puppets of an exceptional
fatality the miserable victims of un-
lucky circmnstances or particularly bad
men.

The Savignols arranged a marriage
for their daughter when she was
eighteen. She married a young man
from Paris, George Barton, whose busi*
ness was on the Exchange. He was an
attractive youth, with a smooth tongue,
and he observed all the outward



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proprieties necessary. But at the bottom
of his heart he sneered a little at his
guileless parents-in-law, calling them,
among his friends, "My dear fossils."

He belonged to a good family, and
the young girl was rich. He took her
to live in Paris.

She became one of the provincials
of Paris, of whom there are many. She
remained ignorant of the great city,
of its elegant people, of its pleasures
and its customs, as she had always been
ignorant of the perfidy and mystery of
Hfe.

Shut up in her own household, she
scarcely knew the street she lived in,
and when she ventured into another
quarter, it seemed to her that she had
journeyed far, into an xmknown, strange
city. She would say in the evening:

"I crossed the boulevards to-day."

Two or three times a year, her hus-
band took her to the theater. These
were feast-days not to be forgotten,
which she recalled continually.

Sometimes at table, three months af-
terward, she would suddenly burst out
laughing and exclaim:

"Do you remember that ridiculous
actor who imitated the cock's crowing?"

All her interests were within the
botmdaries of the two allied families,
who represented the whole of humanity
to her. She designated them by the
distinguishing prefix "the," calling them
respectively "the Martinets," or "the
Michelins."

Her husband lived according to his
fancy, returning whenever he wished,
sometimes at daybreak, pretending busi-
ness, and feeling in no way constrained,
so sure was he that no suspicion would
ruffle this candid soul.



But one morning she received an
anonymous letter. She was too mush
astonished and dismayed to scorn this
letter, whose author declared himself to
be moved by interest in her happiness,
by hatred of all evil and love of truth.
Her heart was too pure to xmderstand
fully the meaning of the accusations.

But it revealed to her that her hus-
band had had a mistress for two years*
a young widow, Mrs. Rosset, at whose
house he passed his evenings.

She knew neither how to pretend, nor
to spy, nor to plan any sort of ruse.
When he returned for luncheon, she
threw him the letter, sobbing, and then
fled to her room.

He had time to comprehend the mat-
ter and prepare his response before he
rapped at his wife's door. She opened
it immediately, without looking at him.
He smiled, sat down, and drew her to
his knee. In a sweet voice, and a little
jocosely, he said:

"My dear httle one, Mrs. Rosset Is
a friend of mine. I have known her
for ten years and like her very much.
I may add that I know twenty other
families of whom I have not spoken to
you, knowing that you care nothing for
the world or for forming new friend-
ships. But in order to finish, once for
all, these infamous lies, I will ask you
to dress yourself, after luncheon, and
we will go to pay a visit to this young
lady, who will become your friend at
once, I am sure." She embraced her
husband eagerly; and, from feminine
curiosity, which no sooner sleeps than
wakes again, she did not refuse to go to
see this unknown woman, of whom, in
spite of aU, she was still suspicious. She



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felt by instinct that a known danger is
sooner overcome.

They were ushered into a little apart-
ment on the fourth floor of a handsome
house. It was a coquettish little place,
full of bric-a-brac ana ornamented with
works of art. After about five minutes'
waiting, in a drawing-room where the
light was dimmed by its generous win-
dow draperies and portieres, a door
opened and a young woman appeared.
She was very dark, small, rather plump,
and looked astonished, although she
smiled. George presented them. "My
wife, Madame Julie Rosset."

The young widow uttered a little cry
of astonishment and joy, and came for-
ward with both hands extended. She
had not hoped for this happiness, she
said, knowing that Madame Barton saw
no one. But she was so happy! She
was so fond of George! (She said
George quite naturally, with sisterly
familiarity.) And she had had great
desire to know his young wife, and to
love her, too.

At the end of a month these two
friends were never apart from each
other. They met every day, often twice
a day, and nearly always dined together,
either at one house or at the other.
Georg6 scarcely even went out now, no
longer pretended delay on account of
business, but said he loved his own
chimney comer.

Finally, an apartment was left vacant
in the house where Madame Rosset re-
sided. Madame Barton hastened to take
it in order to be nearer her new friend.

During two whole years there was a
friendship between them without a
cloud, a friendship of heart and sotil,
tender, devoted, and delightful. Bertha



could not speak without mentioning
Julie's name, for to her Julie represented
perfection. She was happy with a per-
feet happiness, calm and secure.

But Madame Rosset fell ill. Bertha
never left her. She passed nights of
despair; her husband, too, was broken*
hearted.

One morning, in going out from his
visit the doctor took George and his
wife aside, and announced that he found
the condition of their friend very grave.

When he had gone out, the yoimg peo-
ple, stricken down, looked at each other
and then began to weep.

They both watched that night near
the bed. Bertha would embrace the sick
one tenderly, while George, standing
silently at the foot of her couch, would
look at them with dogged persistence.
The next day she was worse.

Finally, toward evening, she declared
herself better, and persuaded her friends
to go home to dinner.

They were sitting sadly at tabic,
scarcely eating anything, when the maid
brought George an envelope. He opened
it, turned pale, and rising, said to his
wife, in a constrained way: "Excuse
me, I must leave you for a moment. I
will return in ten minutes. Please don*t
go out." And he ran into his room for
'his hat.

Bertha waited, tortured by a new fear.
But, yielding in all things, she would not
go up to her friend's room again until
he had returned.

As he did not re-appear, the thought
came to her to look in his room to see
whether he had taken his gloves, which
would show whether he had really gone
somewhere.



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She saw them there, at first glance.
Near them lay a rumpled paper.

She recognized it immediately; it
was the one that had called George
away.

And a burning temptation took pos-
session of her, the first of her life, to
read — to know. Her conscience strug-
gled in revolt, but curiosity lashed her
on and grief directed her hand. She
seized the paper, opened it, recognized
the trembling handwriting as that of
Julie, and read:

"Come alone and embrace me, my poor
friend; I am going to die."

She could not understand it all at
once, but stood stupefied, struck especi-
ally by the thought of death. Then, sud-
denly, the familiarity of it seized upon
her mind. This came like a great light,
illuminating her whole life, showing her
the infamous truth, all their treachery,
all their perfidy. She saw now their
cunning, their sly looks, her good faith
played with, her confidence turned to
account. She saw them looking into
each other's faces, imder the shade of
her lamp at evening, reading from the
same book, exchanging glances at the
end of certain pages.

And her heart, stirred with indigna-
tion, bruised with suffering, sunk into
an abyss of despair that had no botmd-
aries.

When she heard steps, she fled and
shut herself in her room.

Her husband called her: "Come
quickly, Madame Rosset is dying!"

Bertha appeared at her door and said
with trembling lip:

"Go alone to her; she has no need of
me."



He looked at her sheepishly, carelesf
from anger, and repeated:

"Quick, quick! She is dying!"

Bertha answered: "You would prefer
it to be I."

Then he understood, probably, and
left her to herself, going up again to the
dying one.

There he wept without fear, or shame,
indifferent to the grief of his wife, who
would no longer speak to him, nor look
at him, but who lived shut in with her
disgust and angry revolt, praying to
God morning and evening.

They lived together, nevertheless,
eating together face to face, mute and
hopeless.

After a time, he tried to aK>ease her
a little. But she would not forget. And
so the hfe continued, hard for them
both.

For a whole year they lived thus,
strangers one to the other. Bertha al*
most became mad.

Then one morning, having set out at
dawn, she returned toward eight o'clock
carrying in both hands an enormous
bouquet of roses, of white roses, all
white.

She sent word to her husband that
she would like to speak to him. He
canoe in disturbed, troubled.

"Let us go out together," she said to
him. "Take these flowers, they are too
heavy for me."

He took the bouquet and followed his
wife. A carriage awaited them, which
started as soon as they were seated.

It stopped before the gate of a ceme-
tery. Then Bertha, her eyes full of
tears, said to George: "Take me to her
grave."



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He trembled, without knowing why,
1k)ut walked on before, holding the
flowers in his arms. Finally he stopped
before a shaft of white marble and
pointed to it without a word.

She took the bouquet from him, and,
kneeling, placed it at the foot of the



grave. Then her heart was raised in
suppliant, silent prayer.

Her husband stood behind her, weep-
ing, haunted by memories.

She arose and put out her hands to him.

"If you wish, we will be friends," she
said.



The White Wolf



This is the story the old Marquis
d'Arville told us after a dinner in honor
of Saint-Hubert, at the house of Baron
des Ravels. They had run down a stag
that day. The Marquis was the only
one of the guests who had not taken
part in the chase. He never hunted.

During the whole of the long repast,
they had talked of scarcely anything but
the massacre of animals. Even the
ladies interested themselves in the
sanguinary and often unlikely stories,
while the orators mimicked the attacks
and combats between man and beast,
raising their arms and speaking in
thunderous tones.

M. d'Arville talked much, with a cer-
tain poesy, a little flourish, but full of
effect. He must have repeated this
story often, it ran so smoothly, never
halting at a choice of words in which to
clothe an image.

"Gentlemen, I never hunt, nor did my
father, nor my grandfather, nor my
great-great-grandfather. The last named
was the son of a man who hunted more
than all of you. He died in 1764. I
will tell you how. He was named John,
and was married, and became the father
of the man who was my great-great-
grandfather. He lived with his younger



brother, Francis d'Arville, in our castle,
in the midst of a deep forest in Lor-
raine.

"Francis d'Arville always remained a
boy through his love for hunting. They
both hunted from one end of the year
to the other without cessation or weari-
ness. They loved nothing else, under'-
stood nothing else, talked only of this,
and lived for this alone.

"They were possessed by this terri-
ble, inexorable passion. It consumed
them, having taken entire control of
thetn, leaving no place for anything else.
They had agreed not to put og the chase
for any reason whatsoever. My great"
great-grandfather was bom while his
father was following a fox, but John
tf ArviUe did not interrupt his sport, and
swore that the little beggar might have
waited until after the death-cry! His
brother Francis showed himself still
more hot-headed than he. The first
thing on rising, he would go to see the
dogs, then the horses; then he would
shoot some birds about the place, even
when about to set out hunting big game.

"They were called in the coxmtry
Monsieur the Marquis and Monsieur



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