Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5 HTML version
A Queer Night In Paris
Mattre Saval, notary at Vernon, was passionately fond of music. Although still young he
was already bald; he was always carefully shaven, was somewhat corpulent as was
suitable, and wore a gold pince-nez instead of spectacles. He was active, gallant and
cheerful and was considered quite an artist in Vernon. He played the piano and the violin,
and gave musicals where the new operas were interpreted.
He had even what is called a bit of a voice; nothing but a bit, very little bit of a voice; but
he managed it with so much taste that cries of "Bravo!" "Exquisite!" "Surprising!"
"Adorable!" issued from every throat as soon as he had murmured the last note.
He subscribed to a music publishing house in Paris, and they sent him the latest music,
and from time to time he sent invitations after this fashion to the elite of the town:
"You are invited to be present on Monday evening at the house of M. Saval, notary,
Vernon, at the first rendering of 'Sais.'"
A few officers, gifted with good voices, formed the chorus. Two or three lady amateurs
also sang. The notary filled the part of leader of the orchestra with so much correctness
that the bandmaster of the 190th regiment of the line said of him, one day, at the Cafe de
"Oh! M. Saval is a master. It is a great pity that he did not adopt the career of an artist."
When his name was mentioned in a drawing-room, there was always somebody found to
declare: "He is not an amateur; he is an artist, a genuine artist."
And two or three persons repeated, in a tone of profound conviction:
"Oh! yes, a genuine artist," laying particular stress on the word "genuine."
Every time that a new work was interpreted at a big Parisian theatre M. Saval paid a visit
to the capital.
Now, last year, according to his custom, he went to hear Henri VIII. He then took the
express which arrives in Paris at 4:30 P.M., intending to return by the 12:35 A.M. train,
so as not to have to sleep at a hotel. He had put on evening dress, a black coat and white
tie, which he concealed under his overcoat with the collar turned up.
As soon as he set foot on the Rue d'Amsterdam, he felt himself in quite jovial mood. He
said to himself:
"Decidedly, the air of Paris does not resemble any other air. It has in it something
indescribably stimulating, exciting, intoxicating, which fills you with a strange longing to