Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 4 HTML version
This is what the old Marquis d'Arville told us after St. Hubert's dinner at the house of the
Baron des Ravels.
We had killed a stag that day. The marquis was the only one of the guests who had not
taken part in this chase. He never hunted.
During that long repast we had talked about hardly anything but the slaughter of animals.
The ladies themselves were interested in bloody and exaggerated tales, and the orators
imitated the attacks and the combats of men against beasts, raised their arms, romanced in
a thundering voice.
M. d Arville talked well, in a certain flowery, high-sounding, but effective style. He must
have told this story frequently, for he told it fluently, never hesitating for words, choosing
them with skill to make his description vivid.
Gentlemen, I have never hunted, neither did my father, nor my grandfather, nor my great-
grandfather. This last was the son of a man who hunted more than all of you put together.
He died in 1764. I will tell you the story of his death.
His name was Jean. He was married, father of that child who became my great-
grandfather, and he lived with his younger brother, Francois d'Arville, in our castle in
Lorraine, in the midst of the forest.
Francois d'Arville had remained a bachelor for love of the chase.
They both hunted from one end of the year to the other, without stopping and seemingly
without fatigue. They loved only hunting, understood nothing else, talked only of that,
lived only for that.
They had at heart that one passion, which was terrible and inexorable. It consumed them,
had completely absorbed them, leaving room for no other thought.
They had given orders that they should not be interrupted in the chase for any reason
whatever. My great-grandfather was born while his father was following a fox, and Jean
d'Arville did not stop the chase, but exclaimed: "The deuce! The rascal might have waited
till after the view- halloo!"
His brother Franqois was still more infatuated. On rising he went to see the dogs, then the
horses, then he shot little birds about the castle until the time came to hunt some large
In the countryside they were called M. le Marquis and M. le Cadet, the nobles then not
being at all like the chance nobility of our time, which wishes to establish an hereditary