Title: Madame Baptiste
Date Read: 12th September 2011
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: The narrator, having over two hours to kill before his train arrives to take him to Paris, starts to walk around the town of Loubain. It’s not long before a funeral party turns into the side street in which he is walking. He becomes curious because the funeral party consists of only eight men, and no priest. The narrator encourages one of the men to tell him the story about the person in the coffin; it’s a young woman who cruelly goes by the nickname, of Madame Baptiste.
Afterthoughts: There are two kind of stories which Maupassant does incredibly well – humorous ones, and ones filled with sorrow. This story not surprisingly, given my brief introduction to it, is one of the latter kinds. And while it’s nowhere near on the same woeful level as something like The Piece of String, the reader I’m sure, will still come away from this one feeling decidedly downcast and somewhat unhappy.
Notable Quote: It was pitiable to see the poor child go and play every afternoon. She remained quite by herself, standing by her maid and looking at the other children amusing themselves. Sometimes, yielding to an irresistible desire to mix with the other children, she advanced timidly, with nervous gestures, and mingled with a group, with furtive steps, as if conscious of her own disgrace. And immediately the mothers, aunts and nurses would come running from every seat and take the children entrusted to their care by the hand and drag them brutally away.
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.