Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5 HTML version
She had been brought up in one of those families who live entirely to themselves, apart
from all the rest of the world. Such families know nothing of political events, although
they are discussed at table; for changes in the Government take place at such a distance
from them that they are spoken of as one speaks of a historical event, such as the death of
Louis XVI or the landing of Napoleon.
Customs are modified in course of time, fashions succeed one another, but such
variations are taken no account of in the placid family circle where traditional usages
prevail year after year. And if some scandalous episode or other occurs in the
neighborhood, the disreputable story dies a natural death when it reaches the threshold of
the house. The father and mother may, perhaps, exchange a few words on the subject
when alone together some evening, but they speak in hushed tones--for even walls have
ears. The father says, with bated breath:
"You've heard of that terrible affair in the Rivoil family?"
And the mother answers:
"Who would have dreamed of such a thing? It's dreadful."
The children suspected nothing, and arrive in their turn at years of discretion with eyes
and mind blindfolded, ignorant of the real side of life, not knowing that people do not
think as they speak, and do not speak as they act; or aware that they should live at war, or
at all events, in a state of armed peace, with the rest of mankind; not suspecting the fact
that the simple are always deceived, the sincere made sport of, the good maltreated.
Some go on till the day of their death in this blind probity and loyalty and honor, so pure-
minded that nothing can open their eyes.
Others, undeceived, but without fully understanding, make mistakes, are dismayed, and
become desperate, believing themselves the playthings of a cruel fate, the wretched
victims of adverse circumstances, and exceptionally wicked men.
The Savignols married their daughter Bertha at the age of eighteen. She wedded a young
Parisian, George Baron by name, who had dealings on the Stock Exchange. He was
handsome, well-mannered, and apparently all that could be desired. But in the depths of
his heart he somewhat despised his old-fashioned parents-in-law, whom he spoke of
among his intimates as "my dear old fossils."
He belonged to a good family, and the girl was rich. They settled down in Paris.