Guy de Maupassant
Northwest France. Rouen. The May morning of 1819, Jeanne, a blond girl with blue agate eyes, the daughter of Baron Le Perthieux de Vaux, herself puts the suitcases and looks out the window again: the rain does not cease… And so you want to go!
Jeanne has just returned to her parents’ house from the monastery, where she was brought up “in strict custody” from the age of twelve. And finally freedom, the beginning of life, and they go with Dad and Mom to “Poplar”, to the family castle on the beach, to the village for the whole summer! The rain does not cease, but they still go. The crew is an eccentric, kind father, a very stout mother and a young servant of Rosalie. The lock in the “Poplar”, of course, is old, but the father sold one of his farms and with this money brought everything in order: after all, he and his mother decided to give this castle to Jeanne. She will live there when she gets married…
And while they go there for the whole summer.
The castle is very spacious, very cozy and quite random: on the sides of the chest in the style of Louis XIV there are two armchairs (think only!) In the style of Louis XV… But in this – freedom. You can run anywhere anywhere, walk and swim in the sea – a continuous happiness, and ahead of the whole life and, of course, love. It remains only to meet Him, and as soon as possible! Abbot Pico, a local cure, dining somehow in the “Poplar”, recalls for dessert that he has a new parishioner Viscount de Lamar, charming, decent, quiet. On Sunday, the Baroness and Jeanne go to the mass, and the cure introduces them to the young man. He soon makes his first visit, he is well brought up, and he is invited to dine next week. Viscount dined. Still nothing has happened, nothing is still there, he only looks at Jeanne with velvety black eyes.
The Viscount is in their house all the time, he helps Mom to “do the exercise,” the three of them – with his father and Jeanne – organized a sea voyage, his name is Julien,
and Jeanne is full of foreboding of love, and finally the captivating question sounds: “Do you want to be my wife? ”
The rite is perfect. Jeanne is thrilled: how could she – yesterday fell asleep girl, and today, now, standing at the altar, she became a woman! But why is Julien tenderly whispering that in the evening Jeanne will become his wife? But did not she…?
And now it’s evening. Mommy, poor, weeps, unable to make the last instructions of her daughter. The father is compelled to undertake…
Rosalie strips Jeanne and for some reason roars into three streams, but Jeanne does not notice anything, she in bed and waits, herself not knowing what…
Then follow two or three pages of a special property: “… another leg slid along her leg, cold and hairy…”
Then, during the wedding tour in Corsica, a woman wakes up quietly in Jeanne, but strangely: learning love with Julien, she sees more and more clearly that her husband is cowardly, greedy, haughty and unbearably ordinary.
They return to Topol, and from the first night Julien stays in her room, and then somehow immediately, as if playing the role of a newly-married couple, ceases to pay attention to Jeanne, forgets the razor, does not get out of an old home jacket and drinks eight glasses cognac after every meal. Jeanne languishes with anguish, and here always cheerful Rosalie completely changed and fell ill. In the morning, she slowly refreshes Jeanne’s bed and suddenly sinks to the floor… In the mistress’s room, near her bed, Rosalie gave birth to a boy.
Jeanne is excited, wants to help Rosalie (they are dairy sisters), you need to find the father of the child, get married, but Julien is categorical: the servant must be driven along with the illegitimate child! Jeanne asks Rosalie, and she just sobs. The husband is angry with all this, but for some reason he returns “to the duties of love.”
In the courtyard winter, the castle is cold, Jeanne is unwell, and Julien wanted. Jeanne asks him to postpone visits to the bedroom for a day or two. At night Jeanne beats a terrible chill, she calls Rosalie, she does not respond, Jeanne barefoot, in a half-bred, goes to her room, but Rosalie is not there. Feeling that she is dying, Jeanne throws herself to wake Julien… On the pillow next to his head is the head of Rosalie.
It turned out that the well-bred Viscount, even when he had lunched for the first time in the “Poplars”, did not leave, did not leave, but crept to the attic, hid, and then “went down” to Rosalie. And then everything resumed, after their return from Corsica.
Jeanne almost died in fever, and the doctor discovered her pregnancy. They all reconciled the village cure, who found a husband for Rosalie. And Jeanne gave birth to a boy. He was called Paul,
The misfortunes continue to pour on poor Joan: mother died, Julien started a novel in the neighborhood – with the Countess de Fourville, the jealous earl discovered lovers and killed them, presenting the case as an accident… And Paul was fifteen, had to give it to the college. And then he was twenty, and he contacted a prostitute, they fled to London. The son pulls money from his mother and completely ruins him. The old baron takes care of, lays down, re-settles the estate, suddenly dies… Rosalie, already an old but strong and clear-minded widow, returns to the house and takes care of the very weak Jeanne…
Sold “Poplar”, there was no other way out. Jeanne and Rosalie live in a modest but cozy home. Paul writes that his beloved gave birth to a girl and now dies. And Jeanne, the very Jeanne, who was recently full of anticipation of life, is living out the last days and remembers from time to time short, rare moments of love.
But Rosalie brings a girl, a granddaughter, and Paul will come tomorrow, after the funeral. And life goes on, the same life that is not as good as Rosalie says, but not as bad as they think about her.
Jeanne and Rosalie remember what a strong, never-ending rain it was when they went to “Poplar” from Rouen.