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Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5

Clair De Lune
Abbe Marignan's martial name suited him well. He was a tall, thin priest, fanatic,
excitable, yet upright. All his beliefs were fixed, never varying. He believed sincerely
that he knew his God, understood His plans, desires and intentions.
When he walked with long strides along the garden walk of his little country parsonage,
he would sometimes ask himself the question: "Why has God done this?" And he would
dwell on this continually, putting himself in the place of God, and he almost invariably
found an answer. He would never have cried out in an outburst of pious humility: "Thy
ways, O Lord, are past finding out."
He said to himself: "I am the servant of God; it is right for me to know the reason of His
deeds, or to guess it if I do not know it."
Everything in nature seemed to him to have been created in accordance with an admirable
and absolute logic. The "whys" and "becauses" always balanced. Dawn was given to
make our awakening pleasant, the days to ripen the harvest, the rains to moisten it, the
evenings for preparation for slumber, and the dark nights for sleep.
The four seasons corresponded perfectly to the needs of agriculture, and no suspicion had
ever come to the priest of the fact that nature has no intentions; that, on the contrary,
everything which exists must conform to the hard demands of seasons, climates and
matter.
But he hated woman--hated her unconsciously, and despised her by instinct. He often
repeated the words of Christ: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" and he would add:
"It seems as though God, Himself, were dissatisfied with this work of His." She was the
tempter who led the first man astray, and who since then had ever been busy with her
work of damnation, the feeble creature, dangerous and mysteriously affecting one. And
even more than their sinful bodies, he hated their loving hearts.
He had often felt their tenderness directed toward himself, and though he knew that he
was invulnerable, he grew angry at this need of love that is always vibrating in them.
According to his belief, God had created woman for the sole purpose of tempting and
testing man. One must not approach her without defensive precautions and fear of
possible snares. She was, indeed, just like a snare, with her lips open and her arms
stretched out to man.
He had no indulgence except for nuns, whom their vows had rendered inoffensive; but he
was stern with them, nevertheless, because he felt that at the bottom of their fettered and
humble hearts the everlasting tenderness was burning brightly--that tenderness which was
shown even to him, a priest.
 
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