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Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9

The Love Of Long Ago
The old-fashioned chateau was built on a wooded knoll in the midst of tall trees with
dark-green foliage; the park extended to a great distance, in one direction to the edge of
the forest, in another to the distant country. A few yards from the front of the house was a
huge stone basin with marble ladies taking a bath; other, basins were seen at intervals
down to the foot of the slope, and a stream of water fell in cascades from one basin to
another.
From the manor house, which preserved the grace of a superannuated coquette, down to
the grottos incrusted with shell-work, where slumbered the loves of a bygone age,
everything in this antique demesne had retained the physiognomy of former days.
Everything seemed to speak still of ancient customs, of the manners of long ago, of
former gallantries, and of the elegant trivialities so dear to our grandmothers.
In a parlor in the style of Louis XV, whose walls were covered with shepherds paying
court to shepherdesses, beautiful ladies in hoop-skirts, and gallant gentlemen in wigs, a
very old woman, who seemed dead as soon as she ceased to move, was almost lying
down in a large easy-chair, at each side of which hung a thin, mummy-like hand.
Her dim eyes were gazing dreamily toward the distant horizon as if they sought to follow
through the park the visions of her youth. Through the open window every now and then
came a breath of air laden with the odor of grass and the perfume of flowers. It made her
white locks flutter around her wrinkled forehead and old memories float through her
brain.
Beside her, on a tapestried stool, a young girl, with long fair hair hanging in braids down
her back, was embroidering an altar-cloth. There was a pensive expression in her eyes,
and it was easy to see that she was dreaming, while her agile fingers flew over her work.
But the old lady turned round her head, and said:
"Berthe, read me something out of the newspapers, that I may still know sometimes what
is going on in the world."
The young girl took up a newspaper, and cast a rapid glance over it.
"There is a great deal about politics, grandmamma; shall I pass that over?"
"Yes, yes, darling. Are there no love stories? Is gallantry, then, dead in France, that they
no longer talk about abductions or adventures as they did formerly?"
The girl made a long search through the columns of the newspaper.
"Here is one," she said. "It is entitled 'A Love Drama!'"
 
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