A COCK CROWED
BY GUY DE MAUPASSANT
Madame Bertha d'Avancelles had up till that
time resisted all the prayers of her despairing
adorer, Baron Joseph de Croissard. He had pursued
her ardently in Paris during the winter, and
now he was giving fetes and shooting parties
in her honor at his chateau at Carville, in
Monsieur d'Avancelles, her husband, saw nothing
and knew nothing, as usual. It was said that he
lived apart from his wife on account of a physical
weakness, for which Madame d'Avancelles would
not pardon him. He was a short, stout, bald man,
with short arms, legs, neck, nose and very ugly;
while Madame d'Avancelles, on the contrary, was
a tall, dark and determined young woman, who
laughed in her husband's face with sonorous
peals, while he called her openly "Mrs. Housewife."
She looked at the broad shoulders, strong build
and fair moustaches of her titled admirer, Baron
Joseph de Croissard, with a certain amount of
She had not, however, granted him anything as
yet. The baron was ruining himself for her, and
there was a constant round of feting, hunting
parties and new pleasures to which he invited
the neighboring nobility. All day long the hounds
gave tongue in the woods, as they followed the
fox or the wild boar, and every night dazzling
fireworks mingled their burning plumes with the
stars, while the illuminated windows of the
drawing-room cast long rays of light onto the
wide lawns, where shadows were moving to and fro.
It was autumn, the russet-colored season of the
year, and the leaves were whirling about on the
grass like flights of birds. One noticed the
smell of damp earth in the air, of the naked
earth, like one smells the odor of the bare skin,
when a woman's dress falls off her, after a ball.
One evening, in the previous spring, during an
entertainment, Mme d'Avancelles had said to
M. de Croissard, who was worrying her by his
importunities: "If I do succumb to you, my
friend, it will not be before the fall of the
leaf. I have too many things to do this summer
to have any time for it." He had not forgotten
that bold and amusing speech, and every day he
became more pressing, every day he pushed his
approaches nearer--to use a military phrase--and
gained a hold on the heart of the fair, audacious
woman, who seemed only to be resisting for form's
It was the day before a large wild-boar hunt,
and in the evening Mme Bertha said to the baron
with a laugh: "Baron, if you kill the brute,
I shall have something to say to you." And so,
at dawn he was up and out, to try and discover
where the solitary animal had its lair. He
accompanied his huntsmen, settled the places
for the relays, and organized everything personally
to insure his triumph. When the horns gave
the signal for setting out, he appeared in a
closely fitting coat of scarlet and gold, with
his waist drawn in tight, his chest expanded,
his eyes radiant, and as fresh and strong as
if he had just got out of bed. They set off;
the wild boar bolted through the underwood as
soon as he was dislodged, followed by the hounds
in full cry, while the horses set off at a gallop
through the narrow sides-cuts in the forest. The
carriages which followed the chase at a distance
drove noiselessly along the soft roads.
From mischief, Mme d'Avancelles kept the baron
by her side, lagging behind at a walk in an
interminably long and straight drive, over
which four rows of oaks hung, so as to form
almost an arch, while he, trembling with love
and anxiety, listened with one ear to the young
woman's bantering chatter, and with the other
to the blast of the horns and to the cry of
the hounds as they receded in the distance.
"So you do not love me any longer?" she observed.
"How can you say such things?" he replied.
And she continued: "But you seem to be paying
more attention to the sport than to me."
He groaned, and said: "Did you not order me
to kill the animal myself?"
And she replied gravely: "Of course I reckon
upon it. You must kill it under my eyes."
Then he trembled in his saddle, spurred his
horse until it reared, and, losing all patience,
exclaimed: "But, by Jove, Madame, that is
impossible if we remain here."
Then she spoke tenderly to him, laying her hand on his arm,
or stroking his horse's mane, as if from
abstraction, and said with a laugh: "But you
must do it--or else so much the worse for you."
Just then they turned to the right into a
narrow path which was overhung by trees, and
suddenly, to avoid a branch which barred their
way, she leaned toward him so closely, that he
felt her hair tickling his neck. Suddenly he
threw his arms brutally round her, and putting
his heavily mustached mouth to her forehead,
he gave her a furious kiss.
At first she did not move, and remained motionless
under that mad caress; then she turned her head
with a jerk, and either by accident or design
her little lips met his, under their wealth of
light hair, and a moment afterward, either from
confusion or remorse, she struck her horse with
her riding-whip, and went off at full gallop,
and they rode on like that for some time, without
exchanging a look.
The noise of the hunt came nearer; the thickets
seemed to tremble, and suddenly the wild boar
broke through the bushes, covered with blood,
and trying to shake off the hounds who had
fastened onto him, and the baron, uttering a
shout of triumph, exclaimed: "Let him who loves
me, follow me!" And he disappeared in the copse,
as if the wood had swallowed him up.
When she reached an open glade a few minutes
later, he was just getting up, covered with
mud, his coat torn, and his hands bloody, while
the brute was lying stretched out at full length,
with the baron's hunting knife driven into its
shoulder up to the hilt.
The quarry was cut at night by torchlight. It
was a warm and dull evening, and the wan moon
threw a yellow light onto the torches which made
the night misty with their resinous smoke. The
hounds devoured the wild boar's entrails, and
snarled and fought for them, while the prickers
and the gentlemen, standing in a circle round
the spoil, blew their horns as loud as they
could. The flourish of the hunting-horns
resounded beyond the woods on that still night
and was repeated by the echoes of the distant
valleys, awakening the timid stags, rousing the
yelping foxes, and disturbing the little rabbits
in their gambols at the edge of the rides.
The frightened night-birds flew over the eager
pack of hounds, while the women, who were moved
by all these strangely picturesque things, leaned
rather heavily on the men's arms, and turned
aside into the forest rides before the hounds had
finished their meal. Mme d'Avancelles, feeling
languid after that day of fatigue and tenderness,
said to the baron: "Will you take a turn in the
park, my friend?" And without replying, but
trembling and nervous, he went with her, and
immediately they kissed each other. They walked
slowly under the almost leafless trees through
which the moonbeams filtered, and their love,
their desires, their longing for a closer embrace
became so vehement, that they nearly yielded to
it at the foot of a tree.
The horns were not sounding any longer, and the
tired hounds were sleeping in the kennels. "Let
us return," the young woman said, and they went
When they got to the chateau and before they went
in, she said in a weak voice: "I am so tired that
I shall go to bed, my friend." And as he opened
his arms for a last kiss, she ran away, saying as
a last good-bye: "No--I am going to sleep. Let
him who loves me follow me!"
An hour later, when the whole silent chateau
seemed dead, the baron crept stealthily out of
his room, and went and scratched at her door.
As she did not reply, he tried to open it, and
found that it was not locked.
She was in a reverie, resting her arms against
the window ledge. He threw himself at her knees,
which he kissed madly, through her dress. She
said nothing, but buried her delicate fingers
caressingly in his hair, and suddenly, as if
she had formed some great resolution, whispered
with a daring look: "I shall come back, wait
for me." And stretching out her hand, she
pointed with her finger to an indistinct white
spot at the end of the room; it was her bed.
Then, with trembling hands, and scarcely knowing
what he was doing, he quickly undressed, got into
the cool sheets and, stretching himself out
comfortably, almost forgot his love in the pleasure
he found, tired out as he was, in the contact
of the linen. She did not return, however, no
doubt finding amusement in making him languish.
He closed his eyes with a feeling of exquisite
comfort, and reflected peaceably while waiting
for what he so ardently longed for. But by degrees
his limbs grew languid and his thoughts became
indistinct and fleeting, until his fatigue gained
the upper hand and he fell asleep.
He slept that unconquerable, heavy sleep of the
worn-out hunter, slept through until daylight.
Then, as the window had remained half open,
the crowing of a cock suddenly woke him. The
baron opened his eyes, and feeling a woman's
body against his--finding himself, much to his
surprise, in a strange bed, and remembering
nothing for the moment--he stammered:
"What? Where am I? What is the matter?"
Then she, who had not been asleep at all, looking
at this unkempt man, with red eyes and swollen
lips, replied in the haughty tone of voice in
which she occasionally spoke to her husband:
"It is nothing; it is only a cock crowing. Go
and sleep again, Monsieur, it has nothing to do
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~