Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 13 HTML version

The Drunkard
The north wind was blowing a hurricane, driving through the sky big, black, heavy
clouds from which the rain poured down on the earth with terrific violence.
A high sea was raging and dashing its huge, slow, foamy waves along the coast with the
rumbling sound of thunder. The waves followed each other close, rolling in as high as
mountains, scattering the foam as they broke.
The storm engulfed itself in the little valley of Yport, whistling and moaning, tearing the
shingles from the roofs, smashing the shutters, knocking down the chimneys, rushing
through the narrow streets in such gusts that one could walk only by holding on to the
walls, and children would have been lifted up like leaves and carried over the houses into
the fields.
The fishing smacks had been hauled high up on land, because at high tide the sea would
sweep the beach. Several sailors, sheltered behind the curved bottoms of their boats, were
watching this battle of the sky and the sea.
Then, one by one, they went away, for night was falling on the storm, wrapping in
shadows the raging ocean and all the battling elements.
Just two men remained, their hands plunged deep into their pockets, bending their backs
beneath the squall, their woolen caps pulled down over their ears; two big Normandy
fishermen, bearded, their skin tanned through exposure, with the piercing black eyes of
the sailor who looks over the horizon like a bird of prey.
One of them was saying:
"Come on, Jeremie, let's go play dominoes. It's my treat."
The other hesitated a while, tempted on one hand by the game and the thought of brandy,
knowing well that, if he went to Paumelle's, he would return home drunk; held back, on
the other hand, by the idea of his wife remaining alone in the house.
He asked:
"Any one might think that you had made a bet to get me drunk every night. Say, what
good is it doing you, since it's always you that's treating?"
Nevertheless he was smiling at the idea of all this brandy drunk at the expense of another.
He was smiling the contented smirk of an avaricious Norman.
Mathurin, his friend, kept pulling him by the sleeve.