Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5 HTML version
George's father was sitting in an iron chair, watching his little son with concentrated
affection and attention, as little George piled up the sand into heaps during one of their
walks. He would take up the sand with both hands, make a mound of it, and put a
chestnut leaf on top. His father saw no one but him in that public park full of people.
The sun was just disappearing behind the roofs of the Rue Saint-Lazare, but still shed its
rays obliquely on that little, overdressed crowd. The chestnut trees were lighted up by its
yellow rays, and the three fountains before the lofty porch of the church had the
appearance of liquid silver.
Monsieur Parent, accidentally looking up at the church clock, saw that he was five
minutes late. He got up, took the child by the arm, shook his dress, which was covered
with sand, wiped his hands, and led him in the direction of the Rue Blanche. He walked
quickly, so as not to get in after his wife, and the child could not keep up with him. He
took him up and carried him, though it made him pant when he had to walk up the steep
street. He was a man of forty, already turning gray, and rather stout. At last he reached
his house. An old servant who had brought him up, one of those trusted servants who are
the tyrants of families, opened the door to him.
"Has madame come in yet?" he asked anxiously.
The servant shrugged her shoulders:
"When have you ever known madame to come home at half-past six, monsieur?"
"Very well; all the better; it will give me time to change my things, for I am very warm."
The servant looked at him with angry and contemptuous pity. "Oh, I can see that well
enough," she grumbled. "You are covered with perspiration, monsieur. I suppose you
walked quickly and carried the child, and only to have to wait until half-past seven,
perhaps, for madame. I have made up my mind not to have dinner ready on time. I shall
get it for eight o'clock, and if, you have to wait, I cannot help it; roast meat ought not to
Monsieur Parent pretended not to hear, but went into his own room, and as soon as he got
in, locked the door, so as to be alone, quite alone. He was so used now to being abused
and badly treated that he never thought himself safe except when he was locked in.
What could he do? To get rid of Julie seemed to him such a formidable thing to do that he
hardly ventured to think of it, but it was just as impossible to uphold her against his wife,
and before another month the situation would become unbearable between the two. He
remained sitting there, with his arms hanging down, vaguely trying to discover some