“I beg your pardon, Mme. Rosemilly, but that is just
like me. I invite ladies because I like to be with
Pierre and Jean
them, and then, as soon as I feel the water beneath
me, I think of nothing but the fish.” by
Mme. Roland was now quite awake, and gazing
Guy de Maupassant
with a softened look at the wide horizon of cliff and
sea. Translated By Clara Bell
“You have had good sport, all the same,” she
murmured. CHAPTER I
“Tschah!” exclaimed old Roland suddenly, after he But her husband shook his head in denial, though at had remained motionless for a quarter of an hour, the same time he glanced complacently at the basket his eyes fixed on the water, while now and again he where the fish caught by the three men were still very slightly lifted his line sunk in the sea. breathing spasmodically, with a low rustle of
clammy scales and struggling fins, and dull, Mme. Roland, dozing in the stern by the side of
ineffectual efforts, gasping in the fatal air. Old Mme. Rosemilly, who had been invited to join the
Roland took the basket between his knees and tilted fishing-party, woke up, and turning her head to look
it up, making the silver heap of creatures slide to the at her husband, said:
edge that he might see those lying at the bottom, and
their death-throes became more convulsive, while “Well, well! Gerome.”
the strong smell of their bodies, a wholesome reek And the old fellow replied in a fury: of brine, came up from the full depths of the creel.
The old fisherman sniffed it eagerly, as we smell at “They do not bite at all. I have taken nothing since
roses, and exclaimed: noon. Only men should ever go fishing. Women
always delay the start till it is too late.” “Cristi! But they are fresh enough!” and he went on:
“How many did you pull out, doctor?” His two sons, Pierre and Jean, who each held a line
twisted round his forefinger, one to port and one to His eldest son, Pierre, a man of thirty, with black starboard, both began to laugh, and Jean remarked: whiskers trimmed square like a lawyer‟s, his
mustache and beard shaved away, replied: “You are not very polite to our guest, father.”
“Oh, not many; three or four.” M. Roland was abashed, and apologized.
The father turned to the younger. “And you, Jean?” was enthusiastic, intelligent, fickle, but obstinate, said he. full of Utopias and philosophical notions. Jean, a tall fellow, much younger than his brother, Jean, who was as fair as his brother was dark, as
deliberate as his brother was vehement, as gentle as fair, with a full beard, smiled and murmured:
his brother was unforgiving, had quietly gone “Much the same as Pierre—four or five.” through his studies for the law and had just taken his
diploma as a licentiate, at the time when Pierre had Every time they told the same fib, which delighted
taken his in medicine. So they were now having a father Roland. He had hitched his line round a
little rest at home, and both looked forward to row-lock, and folding his arms he announced:
settling in Havre if they could find a satisfactory “I will never again try to fish after noon. After ten in opening.
the morning it is all over. The lazy brutes will not
But a vague jealousy, one of those dormant bite; they are taking their siesta in the sun.” And he
jealousies which grow up between brothers or looked round at the sea on all sides, with the
sisters and slowly ripen till they burst, on the satisfied air of a proprietor.
occasion of a marriage perhaps, or of some good He was a retired jeweller who had been led by an fortune happening to one of them, kept them on the inordinate love of seafaring and fishing to fly from alert in a sort of brotherly and non- aggressive the shop as soon as he had made enough money to animosity. They were fond of each other, it is true, live in modest comfort on the interest of his savings. but they watched each other. Pierre, five years old He retired to le Havre, bought a boat, and became when Jean was born, had looked with the eyes of a an amateur skipper. His two sons, Pierre and Jean, little petted animal at that other little animal which had remained at Paris to continue their studies, and had suddenly come to lie in his father‟s and came for the holidays from time to time to share mother‟s arms and to be loved and fondled by them. their father‟s amusements. Jean, from his birth, had always been a pattern of
sweetness, gentleness, and good temper, and Pierre On leaving school, Pierre, the elder, five years older had by degrees begun to chafe at ever-lastingly than Jean, had felt a vocation to various professions hearing the praises of this great lad, whose and had tried half a dozen in succession, but, soon sweetness in his eyes was indolence, whose disgusted with each in turn, he started afresh with gentleness was stupidity, and whose kindliness was new hopes. Medicine had been his last fancy, and he blindness. His parents, whose dream for their sons had set to work with so much ardour that he had just was some respectable and undistinguished calling, qualified after an unusually short course of study, by blamed him for so often changing his mind, for his a special remission of time from the minister. He fits of enthusiasm, his abortive beginnings, and all
his ineffectual impulses towards generous ideas and voyages, and his old-world tales, without hesitation,
like a resigned and reasonable woman who loves the liberal professions.
life and respects death.
Since he had grown to manhood they no longer said
in so many words: “Look at Jean and follow his The two sons on their return, finding the pretty example,” but every time he heard them say “Jean widow quite at home in the house, forthwith began did this—Jean does that,” he understood their to court her, less from any wish to charm her than
from the desire to cut each other out. meaning and the hint the words conveyed.
Their mother, an orderly person, a thrifty and rather Their mother, being practical and prudent, sincerely sentimental woman of the middle class, with the hoped that one of them might win the young widow, soul of a soft-hearted book- keeper, was constantly for she was rich; but then she would have liked that quenching the little rivalries between her two big the other should not be grieved.
sons to which the petty events of their life
Mme. Rosemilly was fair, with blue eyes, a mass of constantly gave rise. Another little circumstance,
light waving hair, fluttering at the least breath of too, just now disturbed her peace of mind, and she
wind, and an alert, daring, pugnacious little way was in fear of some complications; for in the course
with her, which did not in the least answer to the of the winter, while her boys were finishing their
sober method of her mind. studies, each in his own line, she had made the
acquaintance of a neighbour, Mme. Rosemilly, the She already seemed to like Jean best, attracted, no widow of a captain of a merchantman who had died doubt, by an affinity of nature. This preference, at sea two years before. The young widow—quite however, she betrayed only by an almost young, only three-and-twenty —a woman of strong imperceptible difference of voice and look and also intellect who knew life by instinct as the free by occasionally asking his opinion. She seemed to animals do, as though she had seen, gone through, guess that Jean‟s views would support her own, understood, and weighted every conceivable while those of Pierre must inevitably be different. contingency, and judged them with a wholesome, When she spoke of the doctor‟s ideas on politics, art, strict, and benevolent mind, had fallen into the habit philosophy, or morals, she would sometimes say: of calling to work or chat for an hour in the evening “Your crotchets.” Then he would look at her with with these friendly neighbours, who would give her the cold gleam of an accuser drawing up an a cup of tea. indictment against women—all women, poor weak
things. Father Roland, always goaded on by his seafaring
craze, would question their new friend about the Never till his sons came home had M. Roland departed captain; and she would talk of him, and his invited her to join his fishing expeditions, nor had
he ever taken his wife; for he liked to put off before The old fellow hesitated; he certainly would catch daybreak, with his ally, Captain Beausire, a master nothing, for when the sun has warmed the sea the mariner retired, whom he had first met on the quay fish bite no more; but the two brothers had eagerly at high tides and with whom he had struck up an pressed the scheme, and organized and arranged intimacy, and the old sailor Papagris, known as Jean everything there and then.
Bart, in whose charge the boat was left.
So on the following Tuesday the Pearl had dropped But one evening of the week before, Mme. anchor under the white rocks of Cape la Heve; they Rosemilly, who had been dining with them, had fished till midday, then they had slept awhile, remarked, “It must be great fun to go out fishing.” and then fished again without catching anything; The jeweller, flattered by her interest and suddenly and then it was that father Roland, perceiving, rather fired with the wish to share his favourite sport with late, that all that Mme. Rosemilly really enjoyed and her, and to make a convert after the manner of cared for was the sail on the sea, and seeing that his
lines hung motionless, had uttered in a spirit of priests, exclaimed: “Would you like to come?”
unreasonable annoyance, that vehement “Tschah!” “To be sure I should.” which applied as much to the pathetic widow as to
the creatures he could not catch. “Next Tuesday?”
Now he contemplated the spoil—his fish—with the “Yes, next Tuesday.”
joyful thrill of a miser; seeing as he looked up at the “Are you the woman to be ready to start at five in sky that the sun was getting low: “Well, boys,” said the morning?” he, “suppose we turn homeward.”
She exclaimed in horror: The young men hauled in their lines, coiled them up,
cleaned the hooks and stuck them into corks, and sat “No, indeed: that is too much.” waiting.
He was disappointed and chilled, suddenly doubting Roland stood up to look out like a captain. her true vocation. However, he said:
“No wind,” said he. “You will have to pull, young “At what hour can you be ready?” „uns.”
“Well—at nine?” And suddenly extending one arm to the northward,
he exclaimed: “Not before?”
“Here comes the packet from Southampton.” “No, not before. Even that is very early.”
Away over the level sea, spread out like a blue sheet, “I never could see with that thing. It used to put my vast and sheeny and shot with flame and gold, an husband in quite a rage; he would stand for hours at inky cloud was visible against the rosy sky in the the windows watching the ships pass.”
quarter to which he pointed, and below it they could
Old Roland, much put out, retorted: make out the hull of the steamer, which looked tiny
at such a distance. And to southward other wreaths “Then it must be some defect in your eye, for my of smoke, numbers of them, could be seen, all glass is a very good one.”
converging towards the Havre pier, now scarcely
Then he offered it to his wife. visible as a white streak with the lighthouse, upright,
like a horn, at the end of it.
“Would you like to look?”
Roland asked: “Is not the Normandie due to-day?”
“No, thank you. I know before hand that I could not And Jean replied:
see through it.”
Mme. Roland, a woman of eight-and-forty but who
did not look it, seemed to be enjoying this excursion “Give me my glass. I fancy I see her out there.”
and this waning day more than any of the party. The father pulled out the copper tube, adjusted it to
Her chestnut hair was only just beginning to show his eye, sought the speck, and then, delighted to
streaks of white. She had a calm, reasonable face, a have seen it, exclaimed:
kind and happy way with her which it was a “Yes, yes, there she is. I know her two funnels. pleasure to see. Her son Pierre was wont to say that Would you like to look, Mme. Rosemilly?” she knew the value of money, but this did not hinder
her from enjoying the delights of dreaming. She was She took the telescope and directed it towards the
fond of reading, of novels, and poetry, not for their Atlantic horizon, without being able, however, to
value as works of art, but for the sake of the tender find the vessel, for she could distinguish
melancholy mood they would induce in her. A line nothing—nothing but blue, with a coloured halo
of poetry, often but a poor one, often a bad one, round it, a circular rainbow—and then all manner of
would touch the little chord, as she expressed it, and queer things, winking eclipses which made her feel
give her the sense of some mysterious desire almost sick.
realized. And she delighted in these faint emotions
which brought a little flutter to her soul, otherwise She said as she returned the glass:
as strictly kept as a ledger.
Since settling at Havre she had become perceptibly the skipper should say: “Give way!” For he insisted stouter, and her figure, which had been very supple on everything being done according to strict rule. and slight, had grown heavier.
Simultaneously, as if by a single effort, they dipped This day on the sea had been delightful to her. Her the oars, and lying back, pulling with all their might, husband, without being brutal, was rough with her, began a struggle to display their strength. They had as a man who is the despot of his shop is apt to be come out easily, under sail, but the breeze had died rough, without anger or hatred; to such men to give away, and the masculine pride of the two brothers an order is to swear. He controlled himself in the was suddenly aroused by the prospect of measuring presence of strangers, but in private he let loose and their powers. When they went out alone with their