**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


A Simple Heart
by [?]

One day in the month of August (she was eighteen then) they took her with them to the fair at Colleville. Straightway she was bewildered, stupefied by the noise of the fiddlers, the lights in the trees, the motley of the costumes, the laces, the gold crosses—this mass of people who leapt simultaneously. She was keeping modestly in the background when a young man, well-to-do in appearance, smoking his pipe, with his two elbows on the pole of a small wagon, came to invite her to dance. He recompensed her with cider, with coffee, with cake, with a scarf, and offered to lead her out again. She did not know what to answer, and wanted to run away. He departed.

Another evening on the road to Beaumont she wanted to pass a big wagon of hay that was going along slowly, and as she brushed past the wheels she recognized Theodore.

At once he spoke of the harvests and the notables of the district, for his father had left Colleville for the farm of Écots, so that now they were neighbours. ‘Ah’, she said. He added that they were wanting to set him up for himself. Yet he wasn’t in a hurry; he was waiting for a wife to his taste. She hung her head. Then he asked her if she was thinking of marriage. She answered, smiling, that it wasn’t right to laugh at her. ‘But I’m not, I give you my word!’ and with his left arm he encircled her waist: she walked on, held up by his embrace: they went more slowly. The wind was soft, the stars shone, the huge wagon-load of hay swayed before them, and the four horses, dragging their feet, raised the dust. Then, without being told, they turned to the right. He hugged her again. She disappeared into the shadows.

Theodore, the following week, got her to promise to meet him.

They met at the far end of the courtyard, under an isolated tree. She was not innocent, in the fashion of ladies, but common sense and the instinct of honour kept her from yielding. This resistance exasperated Theodore’s love so much that in order to satisfy it (or perhaps quite ingenuously) he proposed to marry her. She hesitated to believe him. He swore great oaths.

Soon he admitted something annoying; his parents last year had bought him off conscription; but any day they could take him again. The idea of serving terrified him. This cowardice was in Felicity’s eyes a proof of affection; her own redoubled. She stole out at night, and when she got to the meeting place Theodore tortured her with his anxiety and his entreaties.

At last he announced that he would go himself to headquarters to get information, and that he would bring her word on the following Sunday between eleven and twelve at night.

When the moment came she ran to her lover.

In his place she found one of his friends. He told her that she would not see him again. To assure himself from conscription Theodore had married a very rich old woman, Madame Lehoussais, of Toucques.

She gave way to a burst of extravagant grief. She threw herself on the ground, cried aloud, called on the good God, and groaned, all alone in the country till sunrise. Then she went back to the farm, and declared her intention of leaving it, and at the end of a month, having received her wages, she tied all her little belongings in a handkerchief, and went to Pont-l’Évêque.

In front of the inn she asked some questions of a lady in a widow’s cap, who happened at the time to be looking for a cook. The girl did not know much, but she seemed so anxious to please and to have so few unreasonable demands, that Madame Aubain finished by saying: