A DUEL OF HEARTS
Broad daylight streamed down into the vast studio through a skylight in the ceiling, which showed a large square of dazzling blue, a bright vista of limitless heights of azure, across which passed flocks of birds in rapid flight. But the glad light of heaven hardly entered this severe room, with high ceilings and draped walls, before it began to grow soft and dim, to slumber among the hangings and die in the portieres, hardly penetrating to the dark corners where the gilded frames of portraits gleamed like flame. Peace and sleep seemed imprisoned there, the peace characteristic of an artist's dwelling, where the human soul has toiled. Within these walls, where thought abides, struggles, and becomes exhausted in its violent efforts, everything appears weary and overcome as soon as the energy of action is abated; all seems dead after the great crises of life, and the furniture, the hangings, and the portraits of great personages still unfinished on the canvases, all seem to rest as if the whole place had suffered the master's fatigue and had toiled with him, taking part in the daily renewal of his struggle. A vague, heavy odor of paint, turpentine, and tobacco was in the air, clinging to the rugs and chairs; and no sound broke the deep silence save the sharp short cries of the swallows that flitted above the open skylight, and the dull, ceaseless roar of Paris, hardly heard above the roofs. Nothing moved except a little cloud of smoke that rose intermittently toward the ceiling with every puff that Olivier Bertin, lying upon his divan, blew slowly from a cigarette between his lips.
With gaze lost in the distant sky, he tried to think of a new subject for a painting. What should he do? As yet he did not know. He was by no means resolute and sure of himself as an artist, but was of an uncertain, uneasy spirit, whose undecided inspiration ever hesitated among all the manifestations of art. Rich, illustrious, the gainer of all honors, he nevertheless remained, in these his later years, a man who did not know exactly toward what ideal he had been aiming. He had won the Prix of Rome, had been the defender of traditions, and had evoked, like so many others, the great scenes of history; then, modernizing his tendencies, he had painted living men, but in a way that showed the influence of classic memories. Intelligent, enthusiastic, a worker that clung to his changing dreams, in love with his art, which he knew to perfection, he had acquired, by reason of the delicacy of his mind, remarkable executive ability and great versatility, due in some degree to his hesitations and his experiments in all styles of his art. Perhaps, too, the sudden admiration of the world for his works, elegant, correct, and full of distinctions, influenced his nature and prevented him from becoming what he naturally might have been. Since the triumph of his first success, the desire to please always made him anxious, without his being conscious of it; it influenced his actions and weakened his convictions. This desire to please was apparent in him in many ways, and had contributed much to his glory.
GUY DE MAUPASSANT
BOULE DE SUIF
THE LANCER'S WIFE
TWO LITTLE SOLDIERS
A COUP D'ETAT
LIEUTENANT LARE'S MARRIAGE
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 2.
THE COLONEL'S IDEAS
THE QUESTION OF LATIN
THE BLIND MAN
A FAMILY AFFAIR
BESIDE SCHOPENHAUER'S CORPSE
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 3.
LITTLE LOUISE ROQUE
THE DISPENSER OF HOLY WATER
THE IMPOLITE SEX
A WEDDING GIFT
"To the Abbe Louis d'Ennemare, at Soissons.
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 4.
THE STORY OF A FARM GIRL
It was yesterday, the 31st of December.
THEODULE SABOT'S CONFESSION
THE WRONG HOUSE
THE DIAMOND NECKLACE
THE MARQUIS DE FUMEROL
THE TRIP OF LE HORLA
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 5.
CLAIR DE LUNE
WAITER, A "BOCK"
"My darlings," said the comtesse, "you might go to bed."
IN THE SPRING
A QUEER NIGHT IN PARIS
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 6.
THAT COSTLY RIDE
MY UNCLE SOSTHENES
MOTHER AND SON
A TRESS OF HAIR
ON THE RIVER
THE RONDOLI SISTERS
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 7.
THE FALSE GEMS
"The Comtesse Samoris."
MY TWENTY-FIVE DAYS
LEGEND OF MONT ST. MICHEL
A NEW YEAR'S GIFT
What became of Leremy?"
THE MAISON TELLIER
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 8.
THE LEGION OF HONOR
FOUND ON A DROWNED MAN
He had seen better days, despite his present misery and infirmities.
MY UNCLE JULES
THE FISHING HOLE
IN THE WOOD
THE PIECE OF STRING
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 9.
MADAME HUSSON'S "ROSIER"
THE ADOPTED SON
THE FIRST SNOWFALL
SUNDAYS OF A BOURGEOIS
THE LOVE OF LONG AGO
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 10.
"Well doctor, a little brandy?"
THE FARMER'S WIFE
Said the Baron Rene du Treilles to me:
WALTER SCHNAFFS' ADVENTURE
The following paragraphs recently appeared in the papers:
THAT PIG OF A MORIN
A NORMANDY JOKE
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 11.
THE ACCURSED BREAD
THE DIARY OF A MADMAN
THE PENGUINS' ROCK
This is the season for penguins.
To Georges Legrand.
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 12.
A COUNTRY EXCURSION
A SISTER'S CONFESSION
DEAD WOMAN'S SECRET
A HUMBLE DRAMA
THE CORSICAN BANDIT
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES, Vol. 13.
THE LITTLE CASK
THE ENGLISHMAN OF ETRETAT
A FATHER'S CONFESSION
A MOTHER OF MONSTERS
AN UNCOMFORTABLE BED
THE MOUNTAIN POOL
THE MAGIC COUCH
"Tschah!" exclaimed old Roland suddenly, after he had remained motionless for a quarter of an hour, his eyes fixed on the water, while now and again he very slightly lifted his line sunk in the sea.
Mme. Roland, dozing in the stern by the side of Mme. Rosemilly, who had been invited to join the fishing-party, woke up, and turning her head to look at her husband, said:
"Well, well! Gerome."
And the old fellow replied in a fury:
"They do not bite at all. I have taken nothing since noon. Only men should ever go fishing. Women always delay the start till it is too late."
His two sons, Pierre and Jean, who each held a line twisted round his forefinger, one to port and one to starboard, both began to laugh, and Jean remarked:
"You are not very polite to our guest, father."
M. Roland was abashed, and apologized.
"I beg your pardon, Mme. Rosemilly, but that is just like me. I invite ladies because I like to be with them, and then, as soon as I feel the water beneath me, I think of nothing but the fish."
Mme. Roland was now quite awake, and gazing with a softened look at the wide horizon of cliff and sea.
"You have had good sport, all the same," she murmured.
But her husband shook his head in denial, though at the same time he glanced complacently at the basket where the fish caught by the three men were still breathing spasmodically, with a low rustle of clammy scales and struggling fins, and dull, ineffectual efforts, gasping in the fatal air. Old Roland took the basket between his knees and tilted it up, making the silver heap of creatures slide to the edge that he might see those lying at the bottom, and their death-throes became more convulsive, while the strong smell of their bodies, a wholesome reek of brine, came up from the full depths of the creel. The old fisherman sniffed it eagerly, ...
After changing his five-franc piece Georges Duroy left the restaurant. He twisted his mustache in military style and cast a rapid, sweeping glance upon the diners, among whom were three saleswomen, an untidy music-teacher of uncertain age, and two women with their husbands.
When he reached the sidewalk, he paused to consider what route he should take. It was the twenty-eighth of June and he had only three francs in his pocket to last him the remainder of the month. That meant two dinners and no lunches, or two lunches and no dinners, according to choice. As he pondered upon this unpleasant state of affairs, he sauntered down Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, preserving his military air and carriage, and rudely jostled the people upon the streets in order to clear a path for himself. He appeared to be hostile to the passers-by, and even to the houses, the entire city.
Tall, well-built, fair, with blue eyes, a curled mustache, hair naturally wavy and parted in the middle, he recalled the hero of the popular romances.
It was one of those sultry, Parisian evenings when not a breath of air is stirring; the sewers exhaled poisonous gases and the restaurants the disagreeable odors of cooking and of kindred smells. Porters in their shirt-sleeves, astride their chairs, smoked their pipes at the carriage gates, and pedestrians strolled leisurely along, hats in hand.
Born in the middle year of the nineteenth century, and fated unfortunately never to see its close, Guy de Maupassant was probably the most versatile and brilliant among the galaxy of novelists who enriched French literature between the years 1800 and 1900. Poetry, drama, prose of short and sustained effort, and volumes of travel and description, each sparkling with the same minuteness of detail and brilliancy of style, flowed from his pen during the twelve years of his literary life.
Although his genius asserted itself in youth, he had the patience of the true artist, spending his early manhood in cutting and polishing the facets of his genius under the stern though paternal mentorship of Gustave Flaubert. Not until he had attained the age of thirty did he venture on publication, challenging criticism for the first time with a volume of poems.
Many and various have been the judgments passed upon Maupassant's work. But now that the perspective of time is lengthening, enabling us to form a more deliberate and therefore a juster, view of his complete achievement, we are driven irresistibly to the conclusion that the force that shaped and swayed Maupassant's prose writings was the conviction that in life there could be no phase so noble or so mean, so honorable or so contemptible, so lofty or so low as to be unworthy of chronicling,—no groove of human virtue or fault, success or failure, wisdom or folly that did not possess its own peculiar psychological aspect and therefore demanded analysis.
To this analysis Maupassant brought a facile and dramatic pen, a penetration as searching as a probe, and a power of psychological vision that in its minute detail, now pathetic, now ironical, in its merciless revelation of the hidden springs of the human heart, whether of aristocrat, bourgeois, peasant, or priest, allow one to call him a Meissonier in words.
The school of romantic realism which was founded by Mérimée and Balzac found its culmination in De Maupassant. He surpassed his mentor, Flaubert, in the breadth and vividness of his work, and one of the greatest of modern French critics has recorded the deliberate opinion, that of all Taine's pupils Maupassant had the greatest command of language and the most finished and incisive style. Robust in imagination and fired with natural passion, his psychological curiosity kept him true to human nature, while at the same time his mental eye, when fixed upon the most ordinary phases of human conduct, could see some new motive or aspect of things hitherto unnoticed by the careless crowd.
It has been said by casual critics that Maupassant lacked one quality indispensable to the production of truly artistic work, viz.: an absolutely normal, that is, moral, point of view. The answer to this criticism is obvious. No dissector of the gamut of human passion and folly in all its tones could present aught that could be called new, if ungifted with a view-point totally out of the ordinary plane. Cold and merciless in the use of this point de vue De Maupassant undoubtedly is, especially in such vivid depictions of love, both physical and maternal, as we find in "L'histoire d'une fille de ferme" and "La femme de Paul." But then the surgeon's scalpel never hesitates at giving pain, and pain is often the road to health and ease. Some of Maupassant's short stories are sermons more forcible than any moral dissertation could ever be.
The Initiation of Saval
As they were leaving the Cafe Riche, Jean de Servigny said to Leon Saval: "If you don't object, let us walk. The weather is too fine to take a cab."
His friend answered: "I would like nothing better."
Jean replied: "It is hardly eleven o'clock. We shall arrive much before midnight, so let us go slowly."
A restless crowd was moving along the boulevard, that throng peculiar to summer nights, drinking, chatting, and flowing like a river, filled with a sense of comfort and joy. Here and there a cafe threw a flood of light upon a knot of patrons drinking at little tables on the sidewalk, which were covered with bottles and glasses, hindering the passing of the hurrying multitude. On the pavement the cabs with their red, blue, or green lights dashed by, showing for a second, in the glimmer, the thin shadow of the horse, the raised profile of the coachman, and the dark box of the carriage. The cabs of the Urbaine Company made clear and rapid spots when their yellow panels were struck by the light.
The two friends walked with slow steps, cigars in their mouths, in evening dress and overcoats on their arms, with a flower in their buttonholes, and their hats a trifle on one side, as men will carelessly wear them sometimes, after they have dined well and the air is mild.
They had been linked together since their college days by a close, devoted, and firm affection. Jean de Servigny, small, slender, a trifle bald, rather frail, with elegance of mien, curled mustache, bright eyes, and fine lips, was a man who seemed born and bred upon the boulevard. He was tireless in spite of his languid air, strong in spite of his pallor, one of those slight Parisians to whom gymnastic exercise, fencing, cold shower and hot baths give a nervous, artificial strength. He was known by his marriage as well as by his wit, his fortune, his connections, and by that sociability, amiability, and fashionable gallantry peculiar to certain men.
A true Parisian, furthermore, light, sceptical, changeable, captivating, energetic, and irresolute, capable of everything and of nothing; selfish by principle and generous on occasion, he lived moderately upon his income, and amused himself with hygiene. Indifferent and passionate, he gave himself rein and drew back constantly, impelled by conflicting instincts, yielding to all, and then obeying, in the end, his own shrewd man-about-town judgment, whose weather-vane logic consisted in following the wind and drawing profit from circumstances without taking the trouble to originate them.
The anthology contains a biography of Oliver Onions, the author of “The Beckoning Fair One.” There are also some annotations within the book with additional information pertinent to the stories.
Table of Contents:
The Attic by Algernon Blackwood
Oh, Whistle, and I'll Come to You, My Lad by M.R. James
A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant
The Upper Berth by F. Marion Crawford
Bone to His Bone by E.G Swain
The Beckoning Fair One by Oliver Onions
The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens
Christmas Eve on a Haunted Hulk by Frank Cowper
The Ghosts by Lord Dunsany
The Haunted and the Haunters, or the House and the Brain by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
In The Tube by E.F. Benson
The Toll-House by W.W. Jacobs
The Listeners by Walter de la Mare
Appendix: The Life of Oliver Onions by Osie Turner
This Diary contains no story and no very thrilling adventure. While cruising about on the coasts of the Mediterranean last Spring, I amused myself by writing down every day what I saw and what I thought.
I saw but the water, the sun, clouds and rocks,—I can tell of nought else,—and my thoughts were mere nothings, such as are suggested by the rocking of the waves, lulling and bearing one along.
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Madame Mathilde Loisel is displeased: she cannot go to a fancy party because she doesn’t have anything to wear. Her husband tries to help her and gives her money to buy a new dress. She insists she also needs jewels so she borrows a diamond necklace from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. After the party, Mathilde realizes that she lost the stunning necklace.,This book has been professionally formatted for e-readers and contains a bonus book club leadership guide and discussion questions. We hope you’ll share this book with your friends, neighbors and colleagues and can’t wait to hear what you have to say about it.