Title: The Prisoners
Date Read: 04 May 2009
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: The Prussians are prowling the forests near the ancient town of Rethel, and in these forests lives the vulnerable old keeper Long-legs with his wife and daughter. It’s not long before the Prussians happen upon the old keeper’s forest dwelling, and the family have no choice but to offer their hospitality. While the wife and daughter are playing the consummate hosts, Long Legs darts off to town to try and muster Rethel’s amateur army. Will the French force arrive in time to liberate the wife and daughter from the ‘evil’ Prussians? You’ll be surprised at what actually does happen.
Afterthoughts: This is another delightful tale from De Maupassant, but one, like so many of his tales, that reeks of anti-Prussian sentiment. It’s remarkably well told though and the comedic element is superb (got to love De Maupassant’s vent-hole chicken game) and so reminiscent of Chekhov’s style. I know both men lived and wrote at the same time, but I wonder just how aware of each other they were?
Notable Quote: “He had accomplished about two-thirds of his journey when a long, crimson flame shot forth from the vent-hole. A loud report followed, and the fat baker fell. face forward to the ground, uttering a frightful scream. No one went to his assistance. Then he was seen to drag himself, groaning, on all-fours through the snow until he was beyond danger, when he fainted.”
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.