Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 6
Two years ago this spring I was making a walking tour along the shore of the
Mediterranean. Is there anything more pleasant than to meditate while walking at a good
pace along a highway? One walks in the sunlight, through the caressing breeze, at the
foot of the mountains, along the coast of the sea. And one dreams! What a flood of
illusions, loves, adventures pass through a pedestrian's mind during a two hours' march!
What a crowd of confused and joyous hopes enter into you with the mild, light air! You
drink them in with the breeze, and they awaken in your heart a longing for happiness
which increases with the hun ger induced by walking. The fleeting, charming ideas fly
and sing like birds.
I was following that long road which goes from Saint Raphael to Italy, or, rather, that
long, splendid panoramic highway which seems made for the representation of all the
love-poems of earth. And I thought that from Cannes, where one poses, to Monaco,
where one gambles, people come to this spot of the earth for hardly any other purpose
than to get embroiled or to throw away money on chance games, displaying under this
delicious sky and in this garden of roses and oranges all base vanities and foolish
pretensions and vile lusts, showing up the human mind such as it is, servile, ignorant,
arrogant and full of cupidity.
Suddenly I saw some villas in one of those ravishing bays that one meets at every turn of
the mountain; there were only four or five fronting the sea at the foot of the mountains,
and behind them a wild fir wood slopes into two great valleys, that were untraversed by
roads. I stopped short before one of these chalets, it was so pretty: a small white house
with brown trimmings, overrun with rambler roses up to the top.
The garden was a mass of flowers, of all colors and all kinds, mixed in a coquettish, well-
planned disorder. The lawn was full of them, big pots flanked each side of every step of
the porch, pink or yellow clusters framed each window, and the terrace with the stone
balustrade, which enclosed this pretty little dwelling, had a garland of enormous red bells,
like drops of blood. Behind the house I saw a long avenue of orange trees in blossom,
which went up to the foot of the mountain.
Over the door appeared the name, "Villa d'Antan," in small gold letters.
I asked myself what poet or what fairy was living there, what inspired, solitary being had
discovered this spot and created this dream house, which seemed to nestle in a nosegay.
A workman was breaking stones up the street, and I went to him to ask the name of the
proprietor of this jewel.
"It is Madame Julie Romain," he replied.