Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9
They had been great friends all winter in Paris. As is always the case, they had lost sight
of each other after leaving school, and had met again when they were old and gray-
haired. One of them had married, but the other had remained in single blessedness.
M. de Meroul lived for six months in Paris and for six months in his little chateau at
Tourbeville. Having married the daughter of a neighboring, squire, he had lived a good
and peaceful life in the indolence of a man who has nothing to do. Of a calm and quiet
disposition, and not over-intelligent he used to spend his time quietly regretting the past,
grieving over the customs and institutions of the day and continually repeating to his
wife, who would lift her eyes, and sometimes her hands, to heaven, as a sign of energetic
assent: "Good gracious! What a government!"
Madame de Meroul resembled her husband intellectually as though she had been his
sister. She knew, by tradition, that one should above all respect the Pope and the King!
And she loved and respected them from the bottom of her heart, without knowing them,
with a poetic fervor, with an hereditary devotion, with the tenderness of a wellborn
woman. She was good to, the marrow of her bones. She had had no children, and never
ceased mourning the fact.
On meeting his old friend, Joseph Mouradour, at a ball, M. de Meroul was filled with a
deep and simple joy, for in their youth they had been intimate friends.
After the first exclamations of surprise at the changes which time had wrought in their
bodies and countenances, they told each other about their lives since they had last met.
Joseph Mouradour, who was from the south of France, had become a government
official. His manner was frank; he spoke rapidly and without restraint, giving his
opinions without any tact. He was a Republican, one of those good fellows who do not
believe in standing on ceremony, and who exercise an almost brutal freedom of speech.
He came to his friend's house and was immediately liked for his easy cordiality, in spite
of his radical ideas. Madame de Meroul would exclaim:
"What a shame! Such a charming man!"
Monsieur de Meroul would say to his friend in a serious and confidential tone of voice;
"You have no idea the harm that you are doing your country." He loved him all the same,
for nothing is stronger than the ties of childhood taken up again at a riper age. Joseph
Mouradour bantered the wife and the husband, calling them "my amiable snails," and
sometimes he would solemnly declaim against people who were behind the times, against
old prejudices and traditions.