Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9 HTML version

Sundays Of A Bourgeois
Preparations For The Excursion
M. Patissot, born in Paris, after having failed in his examinations at the College Henri
IV., like many others, had entered the government service through the influence of one of
his aunts, who kept a tobacco store where the head of one of the departments bought his
He advanced very slowly, and would, perhaps, have died a fourth-class clerk without the
aid of a kindly Providence, which sometimes watches over our destiny. He is today fifty-
two years old, and it is only at this age that he is beginning to explore, as a tourist, all that
part of France which lies between the fortifications and the provinces.
The story of his advance might be useful to many employees, just as the tale of his
excursions may be of value to many Parisians who will take them as a model for their
own outings, and will thus, through his example, avoid certain mishaps which occurred to
In 1854 he only enjoyed a salary of 1,800 francs. Through a peculiar trait of his character
he was unpopular with all his superiors, who let him languish in the eternal and hopeless
expectation of the clerk's ideal, an increase of salary. Nevertheless he worked; but he did
not know how to make himself appreciated. He had too much self-respect, he claimed.
His self-respect consisted in never bowing to his superiors in a low and servile manner, as
did, according to him, certain of his colleagues, whom he would not mention. He added
that his frankness embarrassed many people, for, like all the rest, he protested against
injustice and the favoritism shown to persons entirely foreign to the bureaucracy. But his
indignant voice never passed beyond the little cage where he worked.
First as a government clerk, then as a Frenchman and finally as a man who believed in
order he would adhere to whatever government was established, having an unbounded
reverence for authority, except for that of his chiefs.
Each time that he got the chance he would place himself where he could see the emperor
pass, in order to have the honor of taking his hat off to him; and he would go away puffed
up with pride at having bowed to the head of the state.
From his habit of observing the sovereign he did as many others do; he imitated the way
he trimmed his beard or arranged his hair, the cut of his clothes, his walk, his
mannerisms. Indeed, how many men in each country seemed to be the living images of
the head of the government! Perhaps he vaguely resembled Napoleon III., but his hair
was black; therefore he dyed it, and then the likeness was complete; and when he met
another gentleman in the street also imitating the imperial countenance he was jealous
and looked at him disdainfully. This need of imitation soon became his hobby, and,