Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9 HTML version
The humid gray sky seemed to weigh down on the vast brown plain. The odor of autumn,
the sad odor of bare, moist lands, of fallen leaves, of dead grass made the stagnant
evening air more thick and heavy. The peasants were still at work, scattered through the
fields, waiting for the stroke of the Angelus to call them back to the farmhouses, whose
thatched roofs were visible here and there through the branches of the leafless trees which
protected the apple-gardens against the wind.
At the side of the road, on a heap of clothes, a very small boy seated with his legs apart
was playing with a potato, which he now and then let fall on his dress, whilst five women
were bending down planting slips of colza in the adjoining plain. With a slow, continuous
movement, all along the mounds of earth which the plough had just turned up, they drove
in sharp wooden stakes and in the hole thus formed placed the plant, already a little
withered, which sank on one side; then they patted down the earth and went on with their
A man who was passing, with a whip in his hand, and wearing wooden shoes, stopped
near the child, took it up and kissed it. Then one of the women rose up and came across
to him. She was a big, red haired girl, with large hips, waist and shoulders, a tall Norman
woman, with yellow hair in which there was a blood-red tint.
She said in a resolute voice:
"Why, here you are, Cesaire--well?"
The man, a thin young fellow with a melancholy air, murmured:
"Well, nothing at all--always the same thing."
"He won't have it?"
"He won't have it."
"What are you going to do?"
"What do you say I ought to do?"
"Go see the cure."
"Go at once!"