Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3 HTML version
The Impolite Sex
Madame de X. to Madame de L.
My Dear Aunt:
I am coming to see you without anyone knowing it. I shall be at Les Fresnes on the 2d of
September, the day before the hunting season opens, as I do not want to miss it, so that I
may tease these gentlemen. You are too good, aunt, and you will allow them, as you
usually do when there are no strange guests, to come to table, under pretext of fatigue,
without dressing or shaving for the occasion.
They are delighted, of course, when I am not present. But I shall be there and will hold a
review, like a general, at dinner time; and, if I find a single one of them at all careless in
dress, no matter how little, I mean to send them down to the kitchen with the servants.
The men of to-day have so little consideration for others and so little good manners that
one must be always severe with them. We live indeed in an age of vulgarity. When they
quarrel, they insult each other in terms worthy of longshoremen, and, in our presence,
they do not conduct themselves even as well as our servants. It is at the seaside that you
see this most clearly. They are to be found there in battalions, and you can judge them in
the lump. Oh! what coarse beings they are!
Just imagine, in a train, a gentleman who looked well, as I thought at first sight, thanks to
his tailor, carefully took off his boots in order to put on a pair of old shoes! Another, an
old man who was probably some wealthy upstart (these are the most ill-bred), while
sitting opposite to me, had the delicacy to place his two feet on the seat quite close to me.
This is a positive fact.
At the watering-places the vulgarity is unrestrained. I must here make one admission--
that my indignation is perhaps due to the fact that I am not accustomed to associate, as a
rule, with the sort of people one comes across here, for I should be less shocked by their
manners if I had the opportunity of observing them oftener. In the office of the hotel I
was nearly thrown down by a young man who snatched the key over my head. Another
knocked against me so violently without begging my pardon or lifting his hat, coming
away from a ball at the Casino, that it gave me a pain in the chest. It is the same way with
all of them. Watch them addressing ladies on the terrace; they scarcely ever bow. They
merely raise their hands to their headgear. But, indeed, as they are all more or less bald, it
is the best plan.
But what exasperates and disgusts me particularly is the liberty they take of talking in
public, without any kind of precaution, about the most revolting adventures. When two
men are together, they relate to each other, in the broadest language and with the most