Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 4
The warm autumn sun was beating down on the farmyard. Under the grass, which had
been cropped close by the cows, the earth soaked by recent rains, was soft and sank in
under the feet with a soggy noise, and the apple trees, loaded with apples, were dropping
their pale green fruit in the dark green grass.
Four young heifers, tied in a line, were grazing and at times looking toward the house and
lowing. The fowls made a colored patch on the dung- heap before the stable, scratching,
moving about and cackling, while two roosters crowed continually, digging worms for
their hens, whom they were calling with a loud clucking.
The wooden gate opened and a man entered. He might have been forty years old, but he
looked at least sixty, wrinkled, bent, walking slowly, impeded by the weight of heavy
wooden shoes full of straw. His long arms hung down on both sides of his body. When he
got near the farm a yellow cur, tied at the foot of an enormous pear tree, beside a barrel
which served as his kennel, began at first to wag his tail and then to bark for joy. The
The dog was quiet.
A peasant woman came out of the house. Her large, flat, bony body was outlined under a
long woollen jacket drawn in at the waist. A gray skirt, too short, fell to the middle of her
legs, which were encased in blue stockings. She, too, wore wooden shoes, filled with
straw. The white cap, turned yellow, covered a few hairs which were plastered to the
scalp, and her brown, thin, ugly, toothless face had that wild, animal expression which is
often to be found on the faces of the peasants.
The man asked:
"How is he gettin' along?"
The woman answered:
"The priest said it's the end--that he will never live through the night."
Both of them went into the house.
After passing through the kitchen, they entered a low, dark room, barely lighted by one
window, in front of which a piece of calico was hanging. The big beams, turned brown
with age and smoke, crossed the room from one side to the other, supporting the thin
floor of the garret, where an army of rats ran about day and night.