Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3 HTML version

Little Louise Roque
The former soldier, Mederic Rompel, familiarly called Mederic by the country folks, left
the post office of Roiiy-le-Tors at the usual hour. After passing through the village with
his long stride, he cut across the meadows of Villaume and reached the bank of the
Brindille, following the path along the water's edge to the village of Carvelin, where he
commenced to deliver his letters. He walked quickly, following the course of the narrow
river, which frothed, murmured and boiled in its grassy bed beneath an arch of willows.
Mederic went on without stopping, with only this thought in his mind: "My first letter is
for the Poivron family, then I have one for Monsieur Renardet; so I must cross the
His blue blouse, fastened round his waist by a black leather belt, moved in a quick,
regular fashion above the green hedge of willow trees, and his stout stick of holly kept
time with his steady tread.
He crossed the Brindille on a bridge consisting of a tree trunk, with a handrail of rope,
fastened at either end to a stake driven into the ground.
The wood, which belonged to Monsieur Renardet, the mayor of Carvelin and the largest
landowner in the district, consisted of huge old trees, straight as pillars and extending for
about half a league along the left bank of the stream which served as a boundary to this
immense dome of foliage. Alongside the water large shrubs had grown up in the sunlight,
but under the trees one found nothing but moss, thick, soft and yielding, from which
arose, in the still air, an odor of dampness and of dead wood.
Mederic slackened his pace, took off his black cap adorned with red lace and wiped his
forehead, for it was by this time hot in the meadows, though it was not yet eight o'clock
in the morning.
He had just recovered from the effects of the heat and resumed his quick pace when he
noticed at the foot of a tree a knife, a child's small knife. When he picked it up he
discovered a thimble and also a needlecase not far away.
Having taken up these objects, he thought: "I'll entrust them to the mayor," and he
resumed his journey, but now he kept his eyes open, expecting to find something else.
All of a sudden he stopped short, as if he had struck against a wooden barrier. Ten paces
in front of him lay stretched on her back on the moss a little girl, perfectly nude, her face
covered with a handkerchief. She was about twelve years old.
Meredic advanced on tiptoe, as if he apprehended some danger, and he glanced toward
the spot uneasily.