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Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 13

An Uncomfortable Bed
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, made much of me, as if they expected to
have great fun at my expense.
I said to myself:
"Look out, old ferret! They have something in store for you."
During the dinner the mirth was excessive, exaggerated, in fact. I thought: "Here are
people who have more than their share of amusement, and apparently without reason.
They must have planned some good joke. Assuredly I am to be the victim of the joke.
Attention!"
During the entire evening every one laughed in an exaggerated fashion. I scented a
practical joke in the air, as a dog scents game. But what was it? I was watchful, restless. I
did not let a word, or a meaning, or a gesture escape me. Every one seemed to me an
object of suspicion, and I even looked distrustfully at the faces of the servants.
The hour struck for retiring; and the whole household came to escort me to my room.
Why?
They called to me: "Good-night." I entered the apartment, shut the door, and remained
standing, without moving a single step, holding the wax candle in my hand.
I heard laughter and whispering in the corridor. Without doubt they were spying on me. I
cast a glance round the walls, the furniture, the ceiling, the hangings, the floor. I saw
nothing to justify suspicion. I heard persons moving about outside my door. I had no
doubt they were looking through the keyhole.
An idea came into my head: "My candle may suddenly go out and leave me in darkness."
Then I went across to the mantelpiece and lighted all the wax candles that were on it.
After that I cast another glance around me without discovering anything. I advanced with
short steps, carefully examining the apartment. Nothing. I inspected every article, one
after the other. Still nothing. I went over to the window. The shutters, large wooden
shutters, were open. I shut them with great care, and then drew the curtains, enormous
velvet curtains, and placed a chair in front of them, so as to have nothing to fear from
outside.
 
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