ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES - VOLUME 11.
ORIGINAL SHORT STORIES - VOLUME 11.
GUY DE MAUPASSANT
THE ACCURSED BREAD
THE DIARY OF A MAD MAN
THE PENGUINS ROCK
Mme. Oreille was a very economical woman; she knew the value of a
centime and possessed a whole storehouse of strict principles with
regard to the multiplication of money so that her cook found the
greatest difficulty in making what the servants call their market-penny
and her husband was hardly allowed any pocket money at all. They were
however very comfortably off and had no children; but it really pained
Mme. Oreille to see any money spent; it was like tearing at her
heartstrings when she had to take any of those nice crown-pieces out of
her pocket; and whenever she had to spend anything no matter how
necessary it might be she slept badly the next night.
Oreille was continually saying to his wife:
"You really might be more liberal as we have no children and never
spend our income."
"You don't know what may happen" she used to reply. "It is better to
have too much than too little."
She was a little woman of about forty very active rather hasty
wrinkled very neat and tidy and with a very short temper.
Her husband frequently complained of all the privations she made him
endure; some of them were particularly painful to him as they touched
He was one of the head clerks in the War Office and only stayed on there
in obedience to his wife's wish to increase their income which they did
not nearly spend.
For two years he had always come to the office with the same old patched
umbrella to the great amusement of his fellow clerks. At last he got
tired of their jokes and insisted upon his wife buying him a new one.
She bought one for eight francs and a half one of those cheap articles
which large houses sell as an advertisement. When the men in the office
saw the article which was being sold in Paris by the thousand they
began their jokes again and Oreille had a dreadful time of it. They
even made a song about it which he heard from morning till night all
over the immense building.
Oreille was very angry and peremptorily told his wife to get him a new
one a good silk one for twenty francs and to bring him the bill so
that he might see that it was all right.
She bought him one for eighteen francs and said getting red with anger
as she gave it to her husband:
"This will last you for five years at least."
Oreille felt quite triumphant and received a small ovation at the office
with his new acquisition.
When he went home in the evening his wife said to him looking at the
"You should not leave it fastened up with the elastic; it will very
likely cut the silk. You must take care of it for I shall not buy you a
new one in a hurry."
She took it unfastened it and remained dumfounded with astonishment and
rage; in the middle of the silk there was a hole as big as a six-penny-
piece; it had been made with the end of a cigar.
"What is that?" she screamed.
Her husband replied quietly without looking at it:
"What is it? What do you mean?"
She was choking with rage and could hardly get out a word.
"You--you--have--burned--your umbrella! Why--you must be--mad! Do you
wish to ruin us outright?"
He turned round and felt that he was growing pale.
"What are you talking about?"
"I say that you have burned your umbrella. Just look here."
And rushing at him as if she were going to beat him she violently
thrust the little circular burned hole under his nose.
He was so utterly struck dumb at the sight of it that he could only
"What-what is it? How should I know? I have done nothing I will swear.
I don't know what is the matter with the umbrella."
"You have been playing tricks with it at the office; you have been
playing the fool and opening it to show it off!" she screamed.
"I only opened it once to let them see what a nice one it was that is
all I swear."
But she shook with rage and got up one of those conjugal scenes which
make a peaceable man dread the domestic hearth more than a battlefield
where bullets are raining.