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Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9

Toine
He was known for thirty miles round was father Toine--fat Toine, Toine- my-extra,
Antoine Macheble, nicknamed Burnt-Brandy--the innkeeper of Tournevent.
It was he who had made famous this hamlet buried in a niche in the valley that led down
to the sea, a poor little peasants' hamlet consisting of ten Norman cottages surrounded by
ditches and trees.
The houses were hidden behind a curve which had given the place the name of
Tournevent. It seemed to have sought shelter in this ravine overgrown with grass and
rushes, from the keen, salt sea wind--the ocean wind that devours and burns like fire, that
drys up and withers like the sharpest frost of winter, just as birds seek shelter in the
furrows of the fields in time of storm.
But the whole hamlet seemed to be the property of Antoine Macheble, nicknamed Burnt-
Brandy, who was called also Toine, or Toine-My-Extra- Special, the latter in
consequence of a phrase current in his mouth:
"My Extra-Special is the best in France:"
His "Extra-Special" was, of course, his cognac.
For the last twenty years he had served the whole countryside with his Extra-Special and
his "Burnt-Brandy," for whenever he was asked: "What shall I drink, Toine?" he
invariably answered: "A burnt-brandy, my son- in-law; that warms the inside and clears
the head--there's nothing better for your body."
He called everyone his son-in-law, though he had no daughter, either married or to be
married.
Well known indeed was Toine Burnt-Brandy, the stoutest man in all Normandy. His little
house seemed ridiculously small, far too small and too low to hold him; and when people
saw him standing at his door, as he did all day long, they asked one another how he could
possibly get through the door. But he went in whenever a customer appeared, for it was
only right that Toine should be invited to take his thimbleful of whatever was drunk in his
wine shop.
His inn bore the sign: "The Friends' Meeting-Place"--and old Toine was, indeed, the
friend of all. His customers came from Fecamp and Montvilliers, just for the fun of
seeing him and hearing him talk; for fat Toine would have made a tombstone laugh. He
had a way of chaffing people without offending them, or of winking to express what he
didn't say, of slapping his thighs when he was merry in such a way as to make you hold
your sides, laughing. And then, merely to see him drink was a curiosity. He drank
 
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