Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3 HTML version

The Patron
We never dreamed of such good fortune! The son of a provincial bailiff, Jean Marin had
come, as do so many others, to study law in the Quartier Latin. In the various beer-houses
that he had frequented he had made friends with several talkative students who spouted
politics as they drank their beer. He had a great admiration for them and followed them
persistently from cafe to cafe, even paying for their drinks when he had the money.
He became a lawyer and pleaded causes, which he lost. However, one morning he read in
the papers that one of his former comrades of the Quartier had just been appointed
He again became his faithful hound, the friend who does the drudgery, the unpleasant
tasks, for whom one sends when one has need of him and with whom one does not stand
on ceremony. But it chanced through some parliamentary incident that the deputy became
a minister. Six months later Jean Marin was appointed a state councillor.
He was so elated with pride at first that he lost his head. He would walk through the
streets just to show himself off, as though one could tell by his appearance what position
he occupied. He managed to say to the shopkeepers as soon as he entered a store,
bringing it in somehow in the course of the most insignificant remarks and even to the
news vendors and the cabmen:
"I, who am a state councillor--"
Then, in consequence of his position as well as for professional reasons and as in duty
bound through being an influential and generous man, he felt an imperious need of
patronizing others. He offered his support to every one on all occasions and with
unbounded generosity.
When he met any one he recognized on the boulevards he would advance to meet them
with a charmed air, would take their hand, inquire after their health, and, without waiting
for any questions, remark:
"You know I am state councillor, and I am entirely at your service. If I can be of any use
to you, do not hesitate to call on me. In my position one has great influence."
Then he would go into some cafe with the friend he had just met and ask for a pen and
ink and a sheet of paper. "Just one, waiter; it is to write a letter of recommendation."
And he wrote ten, twenty, fifty letters of recommendation a day. He wrote them to the
Cafe Americain, to Bignon's, to Tortoni's, to the Maison Doree, to the Cafe Riche, to the
Helder, to the Cafe Anglais, to the Napolitain, everywhere, everywhere. He wrote them to
all the officials of the republican government, from the magistrates to the ministers. And
he was happy, perfectly happy.