172 Works of Guy de Maupassant
The seventeenth of July, one thousand eight hundred and eighty-three, at half-past two in the morning, the watchman in the cemetery of Besiers, who lived in a small cottage on the edge of this field of the dead, was awakened by the barking of his dog, which was shut up in the kitchen.
Going down quickly, [...]
On the morning of July 8th, I received the following telegram: “Fine day. Always my predictions. Belgian frontier. Baggage and servants left at noon at the social session. Beginning of manoeuvres at three. So I will wait for you at the works from five o’clock on. Jovis.”
At five o’clock sharp I entered the gas works [...]
Monsieur Lantin had met the young girl at a reception at the house of the second head of his department, and had fallen head over heels in love with her.
She was the daughter of a provincial tax collector, who had been dead several years. She and her mother came to live in Paris, where the [...]
She was one of those pretty and charming girls who are sometimes, as if by a mistake of destiny, born in a family of clerks. She had no dowry, no expectations, no means of being known, understood, loved, wedded, by any rich and distinguished man; and she let herself be married to a little clerk [...]
This subject of Latin that has been dinned into our ears for some time past recalls to my mind a story–a story of my youth.
I was finishing my studies with a teacher, in a big central town, at the Institution Robineau, celebrated through the entire province for the special attention paid there to the study [...]
The first thing I did was to look at the clock as I entered the waiting- room of the station at Loubain, and I found that I had to wait two hours and ten minutes for the Paris express.
I had walked twenty miles and felt suddenly tired. Not seeing anything on the station walls to [...]
CHATEAU DE SOLLES, July 30, 1883.
My Dear Lucy:
I have no news. We live in the drawing-room, looking out at the rain. We cannot go out in this frightful weather, so we have theatricals. How stupid they are, my dear, these drawing entertainments in the repertory of real life! All is forced, coarse, heavy. The jokes [...]
I should say I did remember that Epiphany supper during the war! exclaimed Count de Garens, an army captain.
I was quartermaster of cavalry at the time, and for a fortnight had been scouting in front of the German advance guard. The evening before we had cut down a few Uhlans and had lost three men, [...]
Fifteen years had passed since I was at Virelogne. I returned there in the autumn to shoot with my friend Serval, who had at last rebuilt his chateau, which the Prussians had destroyed.
I loved that district. It is one of those delightful spots which have a sensuous charm for the eyes. You love it with [...]
“Upon my word,” said Colonel Laporte, “although I am old and gouty, my legs as stiff as two pieces of wood, yet if a pretty woman were to tell me to go through the eye of a needle, I believe I should take a jump at it, like a clown through a hoop. I shall [...]
The north wind was blowing a hurricane, driving through the sky big, black, heavy clouds from which the rain poured down on the earth with terrific violence.
A high sea was raging and dashing its huge, slow, foamy waves along the coast with the rumbling sound of thunder. The waves followed each other close, rolling in [...]
As we sat chatting after dinner, a party of men, the conversation turned on women, for lack of something else.
One of us said:
“Here’s a funny thing that happened to me on, that very subject.” And he told us the following story:
One evening last winter I suddenly felt overcome by that overpowering sense of misery and [...]
We went up on deck after dinner. Before us the Mediterranean lay without a ripple and shimmering in the moonlight. The great ship glided on, casting upward to the star-studded sky a long serpent of black smoke. Behind us the dazzling white water, stirred by the rapid progress of the heavy bark and beaten by [...]
Monsieur Pierre Agenor De Vargnes, the Examining Magistrate, was the exact opposite of a practical joker. He was dignity, staidness, correctness personified. As a sedate man, he was quite incapable of being guilty, even in his dreams, of anything resembling a practical joke, however remotely. I know nobody to whom he could be compared, unless [...]
Just at the time when the Concordat was in its most flourishing condition, a young man belonging to a wealthy and highly respected middle-class family went to the office of the head of the police at P—-, and begged for his help and advice, which was immediately promised him.
“My father threatens to disinherit me,” the [...]
Saint Agnes, May 6.
MY DEAR FRIEND:
You asked me to write to you often and to tell you in particular about the things I might see. You also begged me to rummage among my recollections of travels for some of those little anecdotes gathered from a chance peasant, from an innkeeper, from some strange traveling acquaintance, [...]
Last Monday an Indian prince died at Etretat, Bapu Sahib Khanderao Ghatay, a relation of His Highness, the Maharajah Gaikwar, prince of Baroda, in the province of Guzerat, Presidency of Bombay.
For about three weeks there had been seen walking in the streets about ten young East Indians, small, lithe, with dark skins, dressed all in [...]
I was very much interested at that time in a droll little woman. She was married, of course, as I have a horror of unmarried flirts. What enjoyment is there in making love to a woman who belongs to nobody and yet belongs to any one? And, besides, morality aside, I do not understand love [...]
Crazy people attract me. They live in a mysterious land of weird dreams, in that impenetrable cloud of dementia where all that they have witnessed in their previous life, all they have loved, is reproduced for them in an imaginary existence, outside of all laws that govern the things of this life and control human [...]
How is it that the sunlight gives us such joy? Why does this radiance when it falls on the earth fill us with the joy of living? The whole sky is blue, the fields are green, the houses all white, and our enchanted eyes drink in those bright colors which bring delight to our souls. [...]
There was not a breath of air stirring; a heavy mist was lying over the river. It was like a layer of cotton placed on the water. The banks themselves were indistinct, hidden behind strange fogs. But day was breaking and the hill was becoming visible. In the dawning light of day the plaster houses [...]
The former soldier, Mederic Rompel, familiarly called Mederic by the country folks, left the post office of Roiiy-le-Tors at the usual hour. After passing through the village with his long stride, he cut across the meadows of Villaume and reached the bank of the Brindille, following the path along the water’s edge to the village [...]
There were seven of us on a drag, four women and three men; one of the latter sat on the box seat beside the coachman. We were ascending, at a snail’s pace, the winding road up the steep cliff along the coast.
Setting out from Etretat at break of day in order to visit the ruins [...]
He was slowly dying, as consumptives die. I saw him each day, about two o’clock, sitting beneath the hotel windows on a bench in the promenade, looking out on the calm sea. He remained for some time without moving, in the heat of the sun, gazing mournfully at the Mediterranean. Every now and then, he [...]
The small engine attached to the Neuilly steam-tram whistled as it passed the Porte Maillot to warn all obstacles to get out of its way and puffed like a person out of breath as it sent out its steam, its pistons moving rapidly with a noise as of iron legs running. The train was going [...]
They had loved each other before marriage with a pure and lofty love. They had first met on the sea-shore. He had thought this young girl charming, as she passed by with her light-colored parasol and her dainty dress amid the marine landscape against the horizon. He had loved her, blond and slender, in these [...]
It was nothing but an accident, an accident pure and simple. On that particular evening the princess’ rooms were open, and as they appeared dark after the brilliantly lighted parlors, Baron d’Etraille, who was tired of standing, inadvertently wandered into an empty bedroom.
He looked round for a chair in which to have a doze, as [...]
For a long time Jacques Bourdillere had sworn that he would never marry, but he suddenly changed his mind. It happened suddenly, one summer, at the seashore.
One morning as he lay stretched out on the sand, watching the women coming out of the water, a little foot had struck him by its neatness and daintiness. [...]
Madame de X. to Madame de L.
My Dear Aunt:
I am coming to see you without anyone knowing it. I shall be at Les Fresnes on the 2d of September, the day before the hunting season opens, as I do not want to miss it, so that I may tease these gentlemen. You are too [...]
The defendants, Cesaire-Isidore Brument and Prosper-Napoleon Cornu, appeared before the Court of Assizes of the Seine-Inferieure, on a charge of attempted murder, by drowning, of Mme. Brument, lawful wife of the first of the aforenamed.
The two prisoners sat side by side on the traditional bench. They were two peasants; the first was small and stout, [...]
“Bah!” exclaimed Karl Massouligny, “the question of complaisant husbands is a difficult one. I have seen many kinds, and yet I am unable to give an opinion about any of them. I have often tried to determine whether they are blind, weak or clairvoyant. I believe that there are some which belong to each of [...]
We never dreamed of such good fortune! The son of a provincial bailiff, Jean Marin had come, as do so many others, to study law in the Quartier Latin. In the various beer-houses that he had frequented he had made friends with several talkative students who spouted politics as they drank their beer. He had [...]
Dr. Bonnet, my old friend–one sometimes has friends older than one’s self–had often invited me to spend some time with him at Riom, and, as I did not know Auvergne, I made up my mind to visit him in the summer of 1876.
I arrived by the morning train, and the first person I saw on [...]
The lawyer had presented a plea of insanity. How could anyone explain this strange crime otherwise?
One morning, in the grass near Chatou, two bodies had been found, a man and a woman, well known, rich, no longer young and married since the preceding year, the woman having been a widow for three years before.
They were [...]
We lived formerly in a little house beside the high road outside the village. He had set up in business as a wheelwright, after marrying the daughter of a farmer of the neighborhood, and as they were both industrious, they managed to save up a nice little fortune. But they had no children, and this [...]
As we were still talking about Pranzini, M. Maloureau, who had been attorney general under the Empire, said: “Oh! I formerly knew a very curious affair, curious for several reasons, as you will see.
“I was at that time imperial attorney in one of the provinces. I had to take up the case which has remained [...]
“To the Abbe Louis d’Ennemare, at Soissons.
“My Dear Abbe.
“My marriage with your cousin is broken off in the most stupid way, all on account of an idiotic trick which I almost involuntarily played my intedded. In my perplexity I turn to you, my old school chum, for you may be able to help me out [...]
The broad sunlight threw its burning rays on the fields, and under this shower of flame life burst forth in glowing vegetation from the earth. As far as the eye could see, the soil was green; and the sky was blue to the verge of the horizon. The Norman farms scattered through the plain seemed [...]
In front of the building, half farmhouse, half manor-house, one of those rural habitations of a mixed character which were all but seigneurial, and which are at the present time occupied by large cultivators, the dogs, lashed beside the apple-trees in the orchard near the house, kept barking and howling at the sight of [...]
They had beer, constantly in each other’s society for a whole winter in Paris. After having lost sight of each other, as generally happens in such cases, after leaving college, the two friends met again one night, long years after, already old and white-haired, the one a bachelor, the other married.
M. de Meroul lived six [...]
Let us say that her name was Madame Anserre so as not to reveal her real name.
She was one of those Parisian comets which leave, as it were, a trail of fire behind them. She wrote verses and novels; she had a poetic heart, and was rarely beautiful. She opened her doors to very few–only [...]
The warm autumn sun was beating down on the farmyard. Under the grass, which had been cropped close by the cows, the earth soaked by recent rains, was soft and sank in under the feet with a soggy noise, and the apple trees, loaded with apples, were dropping their pale green fruit in the dark [...]
Monsieur Saval, who was called in Mantes “Father Saval,” had just risen from bed. He was weeping. It was a dull autumn day; the leaves were falling. They fell slowly in the rain, like a heavier and slower rain. M. Saval was not in good spirits. He walked from the fireplace to the window, and [...]
They had just dined together, five old friends, a writer, a doctor and three rich bachelors without any profession.
They had talked about everything, and a feeling of lassitude came over them, that feeling which precedes and leads to the departure of guests after festive gatherings. One of those present, who had for the last five [...]
I was to see my old friend, Simon Radevin, of whom I had lost sight for fifteen years. At one time he was my most intimate friend, the friend who knows one’s thoughts, with whom one passes long, quiet, happy evenings, to whom one tells one’s secret love affairs, and who seems to draw out [...]
To Georges Legrand.
Hardly a day goes by without our reading a news item like the following in some newspaper:
“On Wednesday night the people living in No. 40 Rue de—–, were awakened by two successive shots. The explosions seemed to come from the apartment occupied by M. X—-. The door was broken in and the man [...]
The old doctor sat by the fireside, talking to his fair patient who was lying on the lounge. There was nothing much the matter with her, except that she had one of those little feminine ailments from which pretty women frequently suffer–slight anaemia, a nervous attack, etc.
“No, doctor,” she said; “I shall never be able [...]
Noon had just struck. The school door opened and the youngsters darted out, jostling each other in their haste to get out quickly. But instead of promptly dispersing and going home to dinner as usual, they stopped a few paces off, broke up into knots, and began whispering.
The fact was that, that morning, Simon, the [...]
Lemonnier had remained a widower with one child. He had loved his wife devotedly, with a tender and exalted love, without a slip, during their entire married life. He was a good, honest man, perfectly simple, sincere, without suspicion or malice.
He fell in love with a poor neighbor, proposed and was accepted. He was making [...]
For five months they had been talking of going to take luncheon in one of the country suburbs of Paris on Madame Dufour’s birthday, and as they were looking forward very impatiently to the outing, they rose very early that morning. Monsieur Dufour had borrowed the milkman’s wagon and drove himself. It was a very [...]
The two young women appear to be buried under a blanket of flowers. They are alone in the immense landau, which is filled with flowers like a giant basket. On the front seat are two small hampers of white satin filled with violets, and on the bearskin by which their knees are covered there is [...]
There was a real mystery in this affair which neither the jury, nor the president, nor the public prosecutor himself could understand.
The girl Prudent (Rosalie), servant at the Varambots’, of Nantes, having become enceinte without the knowledge of her masters, had, during the night, killed and buried her child in the garden.
It was the usual [...]
Marguerite de Therelles was dying. Although she was-only fifty-six years old she looked at least seventy-five. She gasped for breath, her face whiter than the sheets, and had spasms of violent shivering, with her face convulsed and her eyes haggard as though she saw a frightful vision.
Her elder sister, Suzanne, six years older than herself, [...]
Throughout the whole countryside the Lucas farn, was known as “the Manor.” No one knew why. The peasants doubtless attached to this word, “Manor,” a meaning of wealth and of splendor, for this farm was undoubtedly the largest, richest and the best managed in the whole neighborhood.
The immense court, surrounded by five rows of magnificent [...]
The woman had died without pain, quietly, as a woman should whose life had been blameless. Now she was resting in her bed, lying on her back, her eyes closed, her features calm, her long white hair carefully arranged as though she had done it up ten minutes before dying. The whole pale countenance of [...]
Meetings that are unexpected constitute the charm of traveling. Who has not experienced the joy of suddenly coming across a Parisian, a college friend, or a neighbor, five hundred miles from home? Who has not passed a night awake in one of those small, rattling country stagecoaches, in regions where steam is still a thing [...]
We were just leaving the asylum when I saw a tall, thin man in a corner of the court who kept on calling an imaginary dog. He was crying in a soft, tender voice: “Cocotte! Come here, Cocotte, my beauty!” and slapping his thigh as one does when calling an animal. I asked the physician, [...]
The road ascended gently through the forest of Aitone. The large pines formed a solemn dome above our heads, and that mysterious sound made by the wind in the trees sounded like the notes of an organ.
After walking for three hours, there was a clearing, and then at intervals an enormous pine umbrella, and then [...]
Said the Baron Rene du Treilles to me:
“Will you come and open the hunting season with me at my farm at Marinville? I shall be delighted if you will, my dear boy. In the first place, I am all alone. It is rather a difficult ground to get at, and the place I live in [...]
The peasant and the doctor stood on opposite sides of the bed, beside the old, dying woman. She was calm and resigned and her mind quite clear as she looked at them and listened to their conversation. She was going to die, and she did not rebel at it, for her time was come, as [...]
Old Baron des Ravots had for forty years been the champion sportsman of his province. But a stroke of paralysis had kept him in his chair for the last five or six years. He could now only shoot pigeons from the window of his drawing-room or from the top of his high doorsteps.
He spent his [...]
I knew that tall young fellow, Rene de Bourneval. He was an agreeable man, though rather melancholy and seemed prejudiced against everything, was very skeptical, and he could with a word tear down social hypocrisy. He would often say:
“There are no honorable men, or, at least, they are only relatively so when compared with those [...]
Ever since he entered France with the invading army Walter Schnaffs had considered himself the most unfortunate of men. He was large, had difficulty in walking, was short of breath and suffered frightfully with his feet, which were very flat and very fat. But he was a peaceful, benevolent man, not warlike or sanguinary, the [...]
The following paragraphs recently appeared in the papers:
“Boulogne-Sur-Mer, January 22.–Our correspondent writes:
“A fearful accident has thrown our sea-faring population, which has suffered so much in the last two years, into the greatest consternation. The fishing smack commanded by Captain Javel, on entering the harbor was wrecked on the rocks of the harbor breakwater.
“In spite of [...]
Great misfortunes do not affect me very much, said John Bridelle, an old bachelor who passed for a sceptic. I have seen war at quite close quarters; I walked across corpses without any feeling of pity. The great brutal facts of nature, or of humanity, may call forth cries of horror or indignation, but do [...]
The two old friends were walking in the garden in bloom, where spring was bringing everything to life.
One was a senator, the other a member of the French Academy, both serious men, full of very logical but solemn arguments, men of note and reputation.
They talked first of politics, exchanging opinions; not on ideas, but on [...]
“Here, my friend,” I said to Labarbe, “you have just repeated those five words, that pig of a Morin. Why on earth do I never hear Morin’s name mentioned without his being called a pig?”
Labarbe, who is a deputy, looked at me with his owl-like eyes and said: “Do you mean to say that you [...]
They called him Saint Anthony, because his name was Anthony, and also, perhaps, because he was a good fellow, jovial, a lover of practical jokes, a tremendous eater and a heavy drinker and a gay fellow, although he was sixty years old.
He was a big peasant of the district of Caux, with a red face, [...]
It was the end of the dinner that opened the shooting season. The Marquis de Bertrans with his guests sat around a brightly lighted table, covered with fruit and flowers. The conversation drifted to love. Immediately there arose an animated discussion, the same eternal discussion as to whether it were possible to love more than [...]
Mme. Lefevre was a country dame, a widow, one of these half peasants, with ribbons and bonnets with trimming on them, one of those persons who clipped her words and put on great airs in public, concealing the soul of a pretentious animal beneath a comical and bedizened exterior, just as the country-folks hide their [...]
It was a wedding procession that was coming along the road between the tall trees that bounded the farms and cast their shadow on the road. At the head were the bride and groom, then the family, then the invited guests, and last of all the poor of the neighborhood. The village urchins who hovered [...]
We had just left Rouen and were galloping along the road to Jumieges. The light carriage flew along across the level country. Presently the horse slackened his pace to walk up the hill of Cantelen.
One sees there one of the most magnificent views in the world. Behind us lay Rouen, the city of churches, with [...]
Mme. Oreille was a very economical woman; she knew the value of a centime, and possessed a whole storehouse of strict principles with regard to the multiplication of money, so that her cook found the greatest difficulty in making what the servants call their market-penny, and her husband was hardly allowed any pocket money at [...]
The coach for Havre was ready to leave Criquetot, and all the passengers were waiting for their names to be called out, in the courtyard of the Commercial Hotel kept by Monsieur Malandain, Jr.
It was a yellow wagon, mounted on wheels which had once been yellow, but were now almost gray through the accumulation of [...]
The steamer was crowded with people and the crossing promised to be good. I was going from Havre to Trouville.
The ropes were thrown off, the whistle blew for the last time, the whole boat started to tremble, and the great wheels began to revolve, slowly at first, and then with ever-increasing rapidity.
We were gliding along [...]
Daddy Taille had three daughters: Anna, the eldest, who was scarcely ever mentioned in the family; Rose, the second girl, who was eighteen, and Clara, the youngest, who was a girl of fifteen.
Old Taille was a widower and a foreman in M. Lebrument’s button manufactory. He was a very upright man, very well thought of, [...]
The marriage of Maitre Simon Lebrument with Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier was a surprise to no one. Maitre Lebrument had bought out the practice of Maitre Papillon; naturally, he had to have money to pay for it; and Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier had three hundred thousand francs clear in currency, and in bonds payable to bearer.
Maitre Lebrument [...]
He was dead–the head of a high tribunal, the upright magistrate whose irreproachable life was a proverb in all the courts of France. Advocates, young counsellors, judges had greeted him at sight of his large, thin, pale face lighted up by two sparkling deep-set eyes, bowing low in token of respect.
He had passed his life [...]
There was a masquerade ball at the Elysee-Montmartre that evening. It was the ‘Mi-Careme’, and the crowds were pouring into the brightly lighted passage which leads to the dance ball, like water flowing through the open lock of a canal. The loud call of the orchestra, bursting like a storm of sound, shook the rafters, [...]
This is the season for penguins.
From April to the end of May, before the Parisian visitors arrive, one sees, all at once, on the little beach at Etretat several old gentlemen, booted and belted in shooting costume. They spend four or five days at the Hotel Hauville, disappear, and return again three weeks later. Then, [...]
It was after dinner, and we were talking about adventures and accidents which happened while out shooting.
An old friend, known to all of us, M. Boniface, a great sportsman and a connoisseur of wine, a man of wonderful physique, witty and gay, and endowed with an ironical and resigned philosophy, which manifested itself in caustic [...]
As the weather was very fine, the people on the farm had hurried through their dinner and had returned to the fields.
The servant, Rose, remained alone in the large kitchen, where the fire was dying out on the hearth beneath the large boiler of hot water. From time to time she dipped out some [...]
It was yesterday, the 31st of December.
I had just finished breakfast with my old friend Georges Garin when the servant handed him a letter covered with seals and foreign stamps.
“Will you excuse me?”
And so he began to read the letter, which was written in a large English handwriting, crossed and recrossed in every direction. [...]
When Sabot entered the inn at Martinville it was a signal for laughter. What a rogue he was, this Sabot! There was a man who did not like priests, for instance! Oh, no, oh, no! He did not spare them, the scamp.
Sabot (Theodule), a master carpenter, represented liberal thought in Martinville. He was a tall, [...]
Quartermaster Varajou had obtained a week’s leave to go and visit his sister, Madame Padoie. Varajou, who was in garrison at Rennes and was leading a pretty gay life, finding himself high and dry, wrote to his sister saying that he would devote a week to her. It was not that he cared particularly for [...]
Roger de Tourneville was whiffing a cigar and blowing out small clouds of smoke every now and then, as he sat astride a chair amid a party of friends. He was talking.
“We were at dinner when a letter was brought in which my father opened. You know my father, who thinks that he is king [...]
The two friends were getting near the end of their dinner. Through the cafe windows they could see the Boulevard, crowded with people. They could feel the gentle breezes which are wafted over Paris on warm summer evenings and make you feel like going out somewhere, you care not where, under the trees, and make [...]
This is what the old Marquis d’Arville told us after St. Hubert’s dinner at the house of the Baron des Ravels.
We had killed a stag that day. The marquis was the only one of the guests who had not taken part in this chase. He never hunted.
During that long repast we had talked about hardly [...]
Resembling in appearance all the wooden hostelries of the High Alps situated at the foot of glaciers in the barren rocky gorges that intersect the summits of the mountains, the Inn of Schwarenbach serves as a resting place for travellers crossing the Gemini Pass.
It remains open for six months in the year and is inhabited [...]
George’s father was sitting in an iron chair, watching his little son with concentrated affection and attention, as little George piled up the sand into heaps during one of their walks. He would take up the sand with both hands, make a mound of it, and put a chestnut leaf on top. His father saw [...]
In Argenteuil she was called Queen Hortense. No one knew why. Perhaps it was because she had a commanding tone of voice; perhaps because she was tall, bony, imperious; perhaps because she governed a kingdom of servants, chickens, dogs, cats, canaries, parrots, all so dear to an old maid’s heart. But she did not spoil [...]
The boulevard, that river of humanity, was alive with people in the golden light of the setting sun. The whole sky was red, blinding, and behind the Madeleine an immense bank of flaming clouds cast a shower of light the whole length of tile boulevard, vibrant as the heat from a brazier.
The gay, animated crowd [...]
The five friends had finished dinner, five men of the world, mature, rich, three married, the two others bachelors. They met like this every month in memory of their youth, and after dinner they chatted until two o’clock in the morning. Having remained intimate friends, and enjoying each other’s society, they probably considered these the [...]
What a strange idea it was for me to choose Mademoiselle Pearl for queen that evening!
Every year I celebrate Twelfth Night with my old friend Chantal. My father, who was his most intimate friend, used to take me round there when I was a child. I continued the custom, and I doubtless shall continue it [...]
Abbe Marignan’s martial name suited him well. He was a tall, thin priest, fanatic, excitable, yet upright. All his beliefs were fixed, never varying. He believed sincerely that he knew his God, understood His plans, desires and intentions.
When he walked with long strides along the garden walk of his little country parsonage, he would sometimes [...]
Why did I go into that beer hall on that particular evening? I do not know. It was cold; a fine rain, a flying mist, veiled the gas lamps with a transparent fog, made the side walks reflect the light that streamed from the shop windows–lighting up the soft slush and the muddy feet of [...]
“My darlings,” said the comtesse, “you might go to bed.”
The three children, two girls and a boy, rose and kissed their grandmother. Then they said good-night to M. le Cure, who had dined at the chateau, as was his custom every Thursday.
The Abbe Mauduit lifted two of the children on his knees, passing his long [...]
With the first day of spring, when the awakening earth puts on its garment of green, and the warm, fragrant air fans our faces and fills our lungs and appears even to penetrate to our hearts, we experience a vague, undefined longing for freedom, for happiness, a desire to run, to wander aimlessly, to breathe [...]
Mattre Saval, notary at Vernon, was passionately fond of music. Although still young he was already bald; he was always carefully shaven, was somewhat corpulent as was suitable, and wore a gold pince-nez instead of spectacles. He was active, gallant and cheerful and was considered quite an artist in Vernon. He played the piano and [...]
The household lived frugally on the meager income derived from the husband’s insignificant appointments. Two children had been born of the marriage, and the earlier condition of the strictest economy had become one of quiet, concealed, shamefaced misery, the poverty of a noble family–which in spite of misfortune never forgets its rank.
Hector de Gribelin had [...]
About half-past five one afternoon at the end of June when the sun was shining warm and bright into the large courtyard, a very elegant victoria with two beautiful black horses drew up in front of the mansion.
The Comtesse de Mascaret came down the steps just as her husband, who was coming home, appeared in [...]
He was a clerk in the Bureau of Public Education and lived at Batignolles. He took the omnibus to Paris every morning and always sat opposite a girl, with whom he fell in love.
She was employed in a shop and went in at the same time every day. She was a little brunette, one of [...]
Some people are Freethinkers from sheer stupidity. My Uncle Sosthenes was one of these. Some people are often religious for the same reason. The very sight of a priest threw my uncle into a violent rage. He would shake his fist and make grimaces at him, and would then touch a piece of iron when [...]
“Come with me,” said my friend Boisrene, “you will see some very interesting bric-a-brac and works of art there.”
He conducted me to the first floor of an elegant house in one of the big streets of Paris. We were welcomed by a very pleasing man, with excellent manners, who led us from room to room, [...]
A party of men were chatting in the smoking room after dinner. We were talking of unexpected legacies, strange inheritances. Then M. le Brument, who was sometimes called “the illustrious judge” and at other times “the illustrious lawyer,” went and stood with his back to the fire.
“I have,” said he, “to search for an heir [...]
All were crowding around M. Bermutier, the judge, who was giving his opinion about the Saint-Cloud mystery. For a month this in explicable crime had been the talk of Paris. Nobody could make head or tail of it.
M. Bermutier, standing with his back to the fireplace, was talking, citing the evidence, discussing the various theories, [...]
The walls of the cell were bare and white washed. A narrow grated window, placed so high that one could not reach it, lighted this sinister little room. The mad inmate, seated on a straw chair, looked at us with a fixed, vacant and haunted expression. He was very thin, with hollow cheeks and hair [...]
The following adventure happened to me about 1882. I had just taken the train and settled down in a corner, hoping that I should be left alone, when the door suddenly opened again and I heard a voice say: “Take care, monsieur, we are just at a crossing; the step is very high.”
Another voice answered: [...]
When Old Man Leras, bookkeeper for Messieurs Labuze and Company, left the store, he stood for a minute bewildered at the glory of the setting sun. He had worked all day in the yellow light of a small jet of gas, far in the back of the store, on a narrow court, as deep as [...]
At four o’clock that day, as on every other day, Alexandre rolled the three-wheeled chair for cripples up to the door of the little house; then, in obedience to the doctor’s orders, he would push his old and infirm mistress about until six o’clock.
When he had placed the light vehicle against the step, just at [...]
The drawing-room was small, full of heavy draperies and discreetly fragrant. A large fire burned in the grate and a solitary lamp at one end of the mantelpiece threw a soft light on the two persons who were talking.
She, the mistress of the house, was an old lady with white hair, but one of those [...]
Two years ago this spring I was making a walking tour along the shore of the Mediterranean. Is there anything more pleasant than to meditate while walking at a good pace along a highway? One walks in the sunlight, through the caressing breeze, at the foot of the mountains, along the coast of the sea. [...]
I set out to see Italy thoroughly on two occasions, and each time I was stopped at the frontier and could not get any further. So I do not know Italy, said my friend, Charles Jouvent. And yet my two attempts gave me a charming idea of the manners of that beautiful country. Some time, [...]
“Cuts and wounds which caused death.” Such was the charge upon which Leopold Renard, upholsterer, was summoned before the Court of Assizes.
Round him were the principal witnesses, Madame Flameche, widow of the victim, and Louis Ladureau, cabinetmaker, and Jean Durdent, plumber.
Near the criminal was his wife, dressed in black, an ugly little woman, who looked [...]
The hotel guests slowly entered the dining-room and took their places. The waiters did not hurry themselves, in order to give the late comers a chance and thus avoid the trouble of bringing in the dishes a second time. The old bathers, the habitues, whose season was almost over, glanced, gazed toward the door whenever [...]
As the mayor was about to sit down to breakfast, word was brought to him that the rural policeman, with two prisoners, was awaiting him at the Hotel de Ville. He went there at once and found old Hochedur standing guard before a middle-class couple whom he was regarding with a severe expression on his [...]
It came to him one Sunday after mass. He was walking home from church along the by-road that led to his house when he saw ahead of him Martine, who was also going home.
Her father walked beside his daughter with the important gait of a rich farmer. Discarding the smock, he wore a short coat [...]
Compte de Lormerin had just finished dressing. He cast a parting glance at the large mirror which occupied an entire panel in his dressing-room and smiled.
He was really a fine-looking man still, although quite gray. Tall, slight, elegant, with no sign of a paunch, with a small mustache of doubtful shade, which might be called [...]
Everybody in Fecamp knew Mother Patin’s story. She had certainly been unfortunate with her husband, for in his lifetime he used to beat her, just as wheat is threshed in the barn.
He was master of a fishing bark and had married her, formerly, because she was pretty, although poor.
Patin was a good sailor, but brutal. [...]
It was market-day, and from all the country round Goderville the peasants and their wives were coming toward the town. The men walked slowly, throwing the whole body forward at every step of their long, crooked legs. They were deformed from pushing the plough which makes the left- shoulder higher, and bends their figures side-ways; [...]
He was known for thirty miles round was father Toine–fat Toine, Toine- my-extra, Antoine Macheble, nicknamed Burnt-Brandy–the innkeeper of Tournevent.
It was he who had made famous this hamlet buried in a niche in the valley that led down to the sea, a poor little peasants’ hamlet consisting of ten Norman cottages surrounded by ditches and [...]
We had just left Gisors, where I was awakened to hearing the name of the town called out by the guards, and I was dozing off again when a terrific shock threw me forward on top of a large lady who sat opposite me.
One of the wheels of the engine had broken, and the engine [...]
The two cottages stood beside each other at the foot of a hill near a little seashore resort. The two peasants labored hard on the unproductive soil to rear their little ones, and each family had four.
Before the adjoining doors a whole troop of urchins played and tumbled about from morning till night. The two [...]
In the office old Mongilet was considered a type. He was a good old employee, who had never been outside Paris but once in his life.
It was the end of July, and each of us, every Sunday, went to roll in the grass, or soak in the water in the country near by. Asnieres, Argenteuil, [...]
Madame Julie Roubere was expecting her elder sister, Madame Henriette Letore, who had just returned from a trip to Switzerland.
The Letore household had left nearly five weeks before. Madame Henriette had allowed her husband to return alone to their estate in Calvados, where some business required his attention, and had come to spend a few [...]
The long promenade of La Croisette winds in a curve along the edge of the blue water. Yonder, to the right, Esterel juts out into the sea in the distance, obstructing the view and shutting out the horizon with its pretty southern outline of pointed summits, numerous and fantastic.
To the left, the isles of Sainte [...]
PREPARATIONS FOR THE EXCURSION
M. Patissot, born in Paris, after having failed in his examinations at the College Henri IV., like many others, had entered the government service through the influence of one of his aunts, who kept a tobacco store where the head of one of the departments bought his provisions.
He advanced very slowly, and [...]
How many recollections of youth come to me in the soft sunlight of early spring! It was an age when all was pleasant, cheerful, charming, intoxicating. How exquisite are the remembrances of those old springtimes!
Do you recall, old friends and brothers, those happy years when life was nothing but a triumph and an occasion for [...]
Eight hours of railway travel induce sleep for some persons and insomnia for others with me, any journey prevents my sleeping on the following night.
At about five o’clock I arrived at the estate of Abelle, which belongs to my friends, the Murets d’Artus, to spend three weeks there. It is a pretty house, built by [...]
The old-fashioned chateau was built on a wooded knoll in the midst of tall trees with dark-green foliage; the park extended to a great distance, in one direction to the edge of the forest, in another to the distant country. A few yards from the front of the house was a huge stone basin with [...]
They had been great friends all winter in Paris. As is always the case, they had lost sight of each other after leaving school, and had met again when they were old and gray-haired. One of them had married, but the other had remained in single blessedness.
M. de Meroul lived for six months in Paris [...]
How often we hear people say, “He is charming, that man, but he is a girl, a regular girl.” They are alluding to the effeminates, the bane of our land.
For we are all girl-like men in France–that is, fickle, fanciful, innocently treacherous, without consistency in our convictions or our will, violent and weak as women [...]
The humid gray sky seemed to weigh down on the vast brown plain. The odor of autumn, the sad odor of bare, moist lands, of fallen leaves, of dead grass made the stagnant evening air more thick and heavy. The peasants were still at work, scattered through the fields, waiting for the stroke of [...]
A great English poet has just crossed over to France in order to greet Victor Hugo. All the newspapers are full of his name and he is the great topic of conversation in all drawing-rooms. Fifteen years ago I had occasion several times to meet Algernon Charles Swinburne. I will attempt to show him just [...]
All Veziers-le-Rethel had followed the funeral procession of M. Badon- Leremince to the grave, and the last words of the funeral oration pronounced by the delegate of the district remained in the minds of all: “He was an honest man, at least!”
An honest man he had been in all the known acts of his life, [...]
It was a men’s dinner party, and they were sitting over their cigars and brandy and discussing magnetism. Donato’s tricks and Charcot’s experiments. Presently, the sceptical, easy-going men, who cared nothing for religion of any sort, began telling stories of strange occurrences, incredible things which, nevertheless, had really occurred, so they said, falling back into [...]
I recalled this horrible story, the events of which occurred long ago, and this horrible woman, the other day at a fashionable seaside resort, where I saw on the beach a well-known young, elegant and charming Parisienne, adored and respected by everyone.
I had been invited by a friend to pay him a visit in a [...]
One autumn I went to spend the hunting season with some friends in a chateau in Picardy.
My friends were fond of practical jokes. I do not care to know people who are not.
When I arrived, they gave me a princely reception, which at once awakened suspicion in my mind. They fired off rifles, embraced me, [...]
Monsieur Lantin had met the young girl at a reception at the house of the second head of his department, and had fallen head over heels in love with her.
She was the daughter of a provincial tax collector, who had been dead several years. She and her mother came to live in Paris, where the [...]
I can tell you neither the name of the country, nor the name of the man. It was a long, long way from here on a fertile and burning shore. We had been walking since the morning along the coast, with the blue sea bathed in sunlight on one side of us, and the shore [...]
The widow of Paolo Saverini lived alone with her son in a poor little house on the outskirts of Bonifacio. The town, built on an outjutting part of the mountain, in places even overhanging the sea, looks across the straits, full of sandbanks, towards the southernmost coast of Sardinia. Beneath it, on the other side [...]
“The Comtesse Samoris.”
“That lady in black over there?”
“The very one. She’s wearing mourning for her daughter, whom she killed.”
“You don’t mean that seriously? How did she die?”
“Oh! it is a very simple story, without any crime in it, any violence.”
“Then what really happened?”
“Almost nothing. Many courtesans are born to be virtuous women, they say; and [...]
I had just taken possession of my room in the hotel, a narrow den between two papered partitions, through which I could hear every sound made by my neighbors; and I was beginning to arrange my clothes and linen in the wardrobe with a long mirror, when I opened the drawer which is in this [...]
You say you cannot possibly understand it, and I believe you. You think I am losing my mind? Perhaps I am, but for other reasons than those you imagine, my dear friend.
Yes, I am going to be married, and will tell you what has led me to take that step.
I may add that I know [...]
I had first seen it from Cancale, this fairy castle in the sea. I got an indistinct impression of it as of a gray shadow outlined against the misty sky. I saw it again from Avranches at sunset. The immense stretch of sand was red, the horizon was red, the whole boundless bay was red. [...]
What became of Leremy?”
“He is captain in the Sixth Dragoons.”
“He’s a subprefect.”
We were searching for other names which would remind us of the youthful faces of our younger days. Once in a while we had met some of these old comrades, bearded, bald, married, fathers of several children, and the realization of these [...]
Jacques de Randal, having dined at home alone, told his valet he might go out, and he sat down at his table to write some letters.
He ended every year in this manner, writing and dreaming. He reviewed the events of his life since last New Year’s Day, things that were now all over and dead; [...]
“I really think you must be mad, my dear, to go for a country walk in such weather as this. You have had some very strange notions for the last two months. You drag me to the seaside in spite of myself, when you have never once had such a whim during all the forty-four [...]
To Leon Chapron.
Marambot opened the letter which his servant Denis gave him and smiled.
For twenty years Denis has been a servant in this house. He was a short, stout, jovial man, who was known throughout the countryside as a model servant. He asked:
“Is monsieur pleased? Has monsieur received good news?”
M. Marambot was not rich. He [...]
They went there every evening about eleven o’clock, just as they would go to the club. Six or eight of them; always the same set, not fast men, but respectable tradesmen, and young men in government or some other employ, and they would drink their Chartreuse, and laugh with the girls, or else talk seriously [...]
HOW HE GOT THE LEGION OF HONOR
From the time some people begin to talk they seem to have an overmastering desire or vocation.
Ever since he was a child, M. Caillard had only had one idea in his head- to wear the ribbon of an order. When he was still quite a small boy he used [...]
We were speaking of adventures, and each one of us was relating his story of delightful experiences, surprising meetings, on the train, in a hotel, at the seashore. According to Roger des Annettes, the seashore was particularly favorable to the little blind god.
Gontran, who was keeping mum, was asked what he thought of it.
“I guess [...]
My Little Darling: So you are crying from morning until night and from night until morning, because your husband leaves you; you do not know what to do and so you ask your old aunt for advice; you must consider her quite an expert. I don’t know as much as you think I do, and [...]
How strange those old recollections are which haunt us, without our being able to get rid of them.
This one is so very old that I cannot understand how it has clung so vividly and tenaciously to my memory. Since then I have seen so many sinister things, which were either affecting or terrible, that I [...]
Old Lecacheur appeared at the door of his house between five and a quarter past five in the morning, his usual hour, to watch his men going to work.
He was only half awake, his face was red, and with his right eye open and the left nearly closed, he was buttoning his braces over his [...]
Mademoiselle Source had adopted this boy under very sad circumstances. She was at the time thirty-six years old. Being disfigured through having as a child slipped off her nurse’s lap into the fireplace and burned her face shockingly, she had determined not to marry, for she did not want any man to marry her for [...]
A white-haired old man begged us for alms. My companion, Joseph Davranche, gave him five francs. Noticing my surprised look, he said:
“That poor unfortunate reminds me of a story which I shall tell you, the memory of which continually pursues me. Here it is:
“My family, which came originally from Havre, was not rich. We just [...]
When M. Antoine Leuillet married the widow, Madame Mathilde Souris, he had already been in love with her for ten years.
M. Souris has been his friend, his old college chum. Leuillet was very much attached to him, but thought he was somewhat of a simpleton. He would often remark: “That poor Souris who will never [...]
Madame, you ask me whether I am laughing at you? You cannot believe that a man has never been in love. Well, then, no, no, I have never loved, never!
Why is this? I really cannot tell. I have never experienced that intoxication of the heart which we call love! Never have I lived in that [...]
Curving like a crescent moon, the little town of Etretat, with its white cliffs, its white, shingly beach and its blue sea, lay in the sunlight at high noon one July day. At either extremity of this crescent its two “gates,” the smaller to the right, the larger one at the left, stretched forth–one a [...]
He was a journeyman carpenter, a good workman and a steady fellow, twenty-seven years old, but, although the eldest son, Jacques Randel had been forced to live on his family for two months, owing to the general lack of work. He had walked about seeking work for over a month and had left his native [...]
This entire stretch of country was amazing; it was characterized by a grandeur that was almost religious, and yet it had an air of sinister desolation.
A great, wild lake, filled with stagnant, black water, in which thousands of reeds were waving to and fro, lay in the midst of a vast circle of naked hills, [...]
He was a tall man of forty or thereabout, this Jules Chicot, the innkeeper of Spreville, with a red face and a round stomach, and said by those who knew him to be a smart business man. He stopped his buggy in front of Mother Magloire’s farmhouse, and, hitching the horse to the gatepost, went [...]
Father Boitelle (Antoine) made a specialty of undertaking dirty jobs all through the countryside. Whenever there was a ditch or a cesspool to be cleaned out, a dunghill removed, a sewer cleansed, or any dirt hole whatever, he way always employed to do it.
He would come with the instruments of his trade, his sabots covered [...]
This story was told during the hunting season at the Chateau Baneville. The autumn had been rainy and sad. The red leaves, instead of rustling under the feet, were rotting under the heavy downfalls.
The forest was as damp as it could be. From it came an odor of must, of rain, of soaked grass and [...]
Translated for this volume by M. Charles Sommer.
We were speaking of sequestration, alluding to a recent lawsuit. It was at the close of a friendly evening in a very old mansion in the Rue de Grenelle, and each of the guests had a story to tell, which he assured us was true.
Then the old Marquis [...]
There was not a sound in the forest save the indistinct, fluttering sound of the snow falling on the trees. It had been snowing since noon; a little fine snow, that covered the branches as with frozen moss, and spread a silvery covering over the dead leaves in the ditches, and covered the roads with [...]
It was after Bourbaki’s defeat in the east of France. The army, broken up, decimated, and worn out, had been obliged to retreat into Switzerland after that terrible campaign, and it was only its short duration that saved a hundred and fifty thousand men from certain death. Hunger, the terrible cold, forced marches in the [...]
Since the beginning of the campaign Lieutenant Lare had taken two cannon from the Prussians. His general had said: “Thank you, lieutenant,” and had given him the cross of honor.
As he was as cautious as he was brave, wary, inventive, wily and resourceful, he was entrusted with a hundred soldiers and he organized a company [...]
Paris had just heard of the disaster at Sedan. A republic had been declared. All France was wavering on the brink of this madness which lasted until after the Commune. From one end of the country to the other everybody was playing soldier.
Cap-makers became colonels, fulfilling the duties of generals; revolvers and swords were displayed [...]
For a month the hot sun has been parching the fields. Nature is expanding beneath its rays; the fields are green as far as the eye can see. The big azure dome of the sky is unclouded. The farms of Normandy, scattered over the plains and surrounded by a belt of tall beeches, look, from [...]
Every Sunday, as soon as they were free, the little soldiers would go for a walk. They turned to the right on leaving the barracks, crossed Courbevoie with rapid strides, as though on a forced march; then, as the houses grew scarcer, they slowed down and followed the dusty road which leads to Bezons.
They were [...]