Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 13 HTML version

A Cremation
Last Monday an Indian prince died at Etretat, Bapu Sahib Khanderao Ghatay, a relation
of His Highness, the Maharajah Gaikwar, prince of Baroda, in the province of Guzerat,
Presidency of Bombay.
For about three weeks there had been seen walking in the streets about ten young East
Indians, small, lithe, with dark skins, dressed all in gray and wearing on their heads caps
such as English grooms wear. They were men of high rank who had come to Europe to
study the military institutions of the principal Western nations. The little band consisted
of three princes, a nobleman, an interpreter and three servants.
The head of the commission had just died, an old man of forty-two and father-in-law of
Sampatro Kashivao Gaikwar, brother of His Highness, the Gaikwar of Baroda.
The son-in-law accompanied his father-in-law.
The other East Indians were called Ganpatrao Shravanrao Gaikwar, cousin of His
Highness Khasherao Gadhav; Vasudev Madhav Samarth, interpreter and secretary; the
slaves: Ramchandra Bajaji, Ganu bin Pukiram Kokate, Rhambhaji bin Fabji.
On leaving his native land the one who died recently was overcome with terrible grief,
and feeling convinced that he would never return he wished to give up the journey, but he
had to obey the wishes of his noble relative, the Prince of Baroda, and he set out.
They came to spend the latter part of the summer at Etretat, and people would go out of
curiosity every morning to see them taking their bath at the Etablissment des Roches-
Five or six days ago Bapu Sahib Khanderao Ghatay was taken with pains in his gums;
then the inflammation spread to the throat and became ulceration. Gangrene set in and, on
Monday, the doctors told his young friends that their relative was dying. The final
struggle was already beginning, and the breath had almost left the unfortunate man's body
when his friends seized him, snatched him from his bed and laid him on the stone floor of
the room, so that, stretched out on the earth, our mother, he should yield up his soul,
according to the command of Brahma.
They then sent to ask the mayor, M. Boissaye, for a permit to burn the body that very day
so as to fulfill the prescribed ceremonial of the Hindoo religion. The mayor hesitated,
telegraphed to the prefecture to demand instructions, at the same time sending word that a
failure to reply would be considered by him tantamount to a consent. As he had received
no reply at 9 o'clock that evening, he decided, in view of the infectious character of the
disease of which the East Indian had died, that the cremation of the body should take
place that very night, beneath the cliff, on the beach, at ebb tide.