Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 13 HTML version

A Mother Of Monsters
I recalled this horrible story, the events of which occurred long ago, and this horrible
woman, the other day at a fashionable seaside resort, where I saw on the beach a well-
known young, elegant and charming Parisienne, adored and respected by everyone.
I had been invited by a friend to pay him a visit in a little provincial town. He took me
about in all directions to do the honors of the place, showed me noted scenes, chateaux,
industries, ruins. He pointed out monuments, churches, old carved doorways, enormous
or distorted trees, the oak of St. Andrew, and the yew tree of Roqueboise.
When I had exhausted my admiration and enthusiasm over all the sights, my friend said
with a distressed expression on his face, that there was nothing left to look at. I breathed
freely. I would now be able to rest under the shade of the trees. But, all at once, he uttered
an exclamation:
"Oh, yes! We have the 'Mother of Monsters'; I must take you to see her."
"Who is that, the 'Mother of Monsters'?" I asked.
"She is an abominable woman," he replied, "a regular demon, a being who voluntarily
brings into the world deformed, hideous, frightful children, monstrosities, in fact, and
then sells them to showmen who exhibit such things.
"These exploiters of freaks come from time to time to find out if she has any fresh
monstrosity, and if it meets with their approval they carry it away with them, paying the
mother a compensation.
"She has eleven of this description. She is rich.
"You think I am joking, romancing, exaggerating. No, my friend; I am telling you the
truth, the exact truth.
"Let us go and see this woman. Then I will tell you her history."
He took me into one of the suburbs. The woman lived in a pretty little house by the side
of the road. It was attractive and well kept. The garden was filled with fragrant flowers.
One might have supposed it to be the residence of a retired lawyer.
A maid ushered us into a sort of little country parlor, and the wretch appeared. She was
about forty. She was a tall, big woman with hard features, but well formed, vigorous and
healthy, the true type of a robust peasant woman, half animal, and half woman.
She was aware of her reputation and received everyone with a humility that smacked of