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Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3

Moiron
As we were still talking about Pranzini, M. Maloureau, who had been attorney general
under the Empire, said: "Oh! I formerly knew a very curious affair, curious for several
reasons, as you will see.
"I was at that time imperial attorney in one of the provinces. I had to take up the case
which has remained famous under the name of the Moiron case.
"Monsieur Moiron, who was a teacher in the north of France, enjoyed an excellent
reputation throughout the whole country. He was a person of intelligence, quiet, very
religious, a little taciturn; he had married in the district of Boislinot, where he exercised
his profession. He had had three children, who had died of consumption, one after the
other. From this time he seemed to bestow upon the youngsters confided to his care all
the tenderness of his heart. With his own money he bought toys for his best scholars and
for the good boys; he gave them little dinners and stuffed them with delicacies, candy and
cakes: Everybody loved this good man with his big heart, when suddenly five of his
pupils died, in a strange manner, one after the other. It was supposed that there was an
epidemic due to the condition of the water, resulting from drought; they looked for the
causes without being able to discover them, the more so that the symptoms were so
peculiar. The children seemed to be attacked by a feeling of lassitude; they would not eat,
they complained of pains in their stomachs, dragged along for a short time, and died in
frightful suffering.
"A post-mortem examination was held over the last one, but nothing was discovered. The
vitals were sent to Paris and analyzed, and they revealed the presence of no toxic
substance.
"For a year nothing new developed; then two little boys, the best scholars in the class,
Moiron's favorites, died within four days of each other. An examination of the bodies was
again ordered, and in both of them were discovered tiny fragments of crushed glass. The
conclusion arrived at was that the two youngsters must imprudently have eaten from
some carelessly cleaned receptacle. A glass broken over a pail of milk could have
produced this frightful accident, and the affair would have been pushed no further if
Moiron's servant had not been taken sick at this time. The physician who was called in
noticed the same symptoms he had seen in the children. He questioned her and obtained
the admission that she had stolen and eaten some candies that had been bought by the
teacher for his scholars.
"On an order from the court the schoolhouse was searched, and a closet was found which
was full of toys and dainties destined for the children. Almost all these delicacies
contained bits of crushed glass or pieces of broken needles!
"Moiron was immediately arrested; but he seemed so astonished and indignant at the
suspicion hanging over him that he was almost released. How ever, indications of his
 
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