Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5 HTML version
My darlings," said the comtesse, "you might go to bed."
The three children, two girls and a boy, rose and kissed their grandmother. Then they said
good-night to M. le Cure, who had dined at the chateau, as was his custom every
The Abbe Mauduit lifted two of the children on his knees, passing his long arms clad in
black round their necks, and kissing them tenderly on the forehead as he drew their heads
toward him as a father might.
Then he set them down on the ground, and the little beings went off, the boy ahead, and
the girls following.
"You are fond of children, M. le Cure," said the comtesse.
"Very fond, madame."
The old woman raised her bright eyes toward the priest.
"And--has your solitude never weighed too heavily on you?"
He became silent, hesitated, and then added: "But I was never made for ordinary life."
"What do you know about it?"
"Oh! I know very well. I was made to be a priest; I followed my vocation.
The comtesse kept staring at him:
"Come now, M. le Cure, tell me this--tell me how it was you resolved to renounce forever
all that makes the rest of us love life--all that consoles and sustains us? What is it that
drove you, impelled you, to separate yourself from the great natural path of marriage and
the family? You are neither an enthusiast nor a fanatic, neither a gloomy person nor a sad
person. Was it some incident, some sorrow, that led you to take life vows?"
The Abbe Mauduit rose and approached the fire, then, holding toward the flame his big
shoes, such as country priests generally wear, he seemed still hesitating as to what reply
he should make.
He was a tall old man with white hair, and for the last twenty years had been pastor of the
parish of Saint-Antoine-du-Rocher. The peasants said of him: "There's a good man for