Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3 HTML version
There were seven of us on a drag, four women and three men; one of the latter sat on the
box seat beside the coachman. We were ascending, at a snail's pace, the winding road up
the steep cliff along the coast.
Setting out from Etretat at break of day in order to visit the ruins of Tancarville, we were
still half asleep, benumbed by the fresh air of the morning. The women especially, who
were little accustomed to these early excursions, half opened and closed their eyes every
moment, nodding their heads or yawning, quite insensible to the beauties of the dawn.
It was autumn. On both sides of the road stretched the bare fields, yellowed by the
stubble of wheat and oats which covered the soil like a beard that had been badly shaved.
The moist earth seemed to steam. Larks were singing high up in the air, while other birds
piped in the bushes.
The sun rose at length in front of us, bright red on the plane of the horizon, and in
proportion as it ascended, growing clearer from minute to minute, the country seemed to
awake, to smile, to shake itself like a young girl leaving her bed in her white robe of
vapor. The Comte d'Etraille, who was seated on the box, cried:
"Look! look! a hare!" and he extended his arm toward the left, pointing to a patch of
clover. The animal scurried along, almost hidden by the clover, only its large ears
showing. Then it swerved across a furrow, stopped, started off again at full speed,
changed its course, stopped anew, uneasy, spying out every danger, uncertain what route
to take, when suddenly it began to run with great bounds, disappearing finally in a large
patch of beet-root. All the men had waked up to watch the course of the animal.
Rene Lamanoir exclaimed:
"We are not at all gallant this morning," and; regarding his neighbor, the little Baroness
de Serennes, who struggled against sleep, he said to her in a low tone: "You are thinking
of your husband, baroness. Reassure yourself; he will not return before Saturday, so you
have still four days."
She answered with a sleepy smile:
"How stupid you are!" Then, shaking off her torpor, she added: "Now, let somebody say
something to make us laugh. You, Monsieur Chenal, who have the reputation of having
had more love affairs than the Due de Richelieu, tell us a love story in which you have
played a part; anything you like."