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Miss Harriet : Guy de Maupassant :
Miss Harriet Maupassant, Guy De. Published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform I wished to become acquainted a little with this strange Miss Harriet and to know what transpires in the solitary souls of those wandering old English women. I had just finished a study which appeared to me to be worth something, and so it was, as it sold for ten thousand francs fifteen years later.
It was as simple, however, as two and two make four and was not according to academic rules. The whole right side of my canvas represented a rock, an enormous rock, covered with sea-wrack, brown, yellow and red, across which the sun poured like a stream of oil. The light fell upon the rock as though it were aflame without the sun, which was at my back, being visible. That was all. A first bewildering study of blazing, gorgeous light. I would have liked the whole world to see it at once.
I can remember that I showed it to a cow that was browsing by the wayside, exclaiming as I did so: 'Look at that, my old beauty; you will not often see its like again. The demoniac could not help but see it, for I took care to exhibit the thing in such a way that it could not escape her notice. She stopped abruptly and stood motionless, astonished. It was her rock which was depicted, the one which she climbed to dream away her time undisturbed.
I was captured, conquered, vanquished. I could have embraced her, upon my honor. For the first time she spoke, thinking aloud:. She now accepted these with a little smile of a mummy.
I then began to talk about the scenery. All is enjoyment, everything charms. The balmy air, laden with the perfume of grasses and the smell of seaweed, soothes the olfactory sense with its wild fragrance, soothes the palate with its sea savor, soothes the mind with its pervading sweetness. And we drank in with open mouth and expanded chest that fresh breeze, briny from kissing the waves, that came from the ocean and passed across our faces. Far off in the distance a three-master in full sail was outlined on the blood-red sky and a steamship, somewhat nearer, passed along, leaving behind it a trail of smoke on the horizon.
The red sun globe sank slowly lower and lower and presently touched the water just behind the motionless vessel, which, in its dazzling effulgence, looked as though framed in a flame of fire. We saw it plunge, grow smaller and disappear, swallowed up by the ocean. She seemed longing to embrace the sky, the sea, the whole landscape.
I love - I love' I saw a tear in her eye. She continued: 'I wish I were a little bird, so that I could mount up into the firmament. I should have liked to have sketched her in my album. It would have been a caricature of ecstasy. She listened attentively, eagerly seeking to divine the meaning of the terms, so as to understand my thoughts. From time to time she would exclaim:. She lacked equilibrium like all women who are spinsters at the age of fifty.
She seemed to be preserved in a pickle of innocence, but her heart still retained something very youthful and inflammable. She loved both nature and animals with a fervor, a love like old wine fermented through age, with a sensuous love that she had never bestowed on men. I love you ever since I became acquainted with Miss Harriet. When I started out in the morning with my knapsack on my back, she would accompany me in silence as far as the end of the village, evidently struggling to find words with which to begin a conversation.
Then she would leave me abruptly and walk away quickly with her springy step. Are you willing? I have been very curious. Then, suddenly, fearing perhaps that she was disturbing me, she said: 'Thank you,' and walked away. She carried her camp stool under her arm, not permitting me to carry it. She would remain there for hours, silent and motionless, following with her eyes the point of my brush, in its every movement.
When I obtained unexpectedly just the effect I wanted by a dash of color put on with the palette knife, she involuntarily uttered a little 'Ah!
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She had the most tender respect for my canvases, an almost religious respect for that human reproduction of a part of nature's work divine. My studies appeared to her a kind of religious pictures, and sometimes she spoke to me of God, with the idea of converting me. He was a sort of village philosopher without any great resources and without great power, for she always figured him to herself as inconsolable over injustices committed under his eyes, as though he were powerless to prevent them.
She would say:. But I soon perceived that she had changed somewhat in her manner, though, for a while, I paid little attention to it. She would then sit down abruptly, out of breath, as though she had been running or were overcome by some profound emotion. Her face would be red, that English red which is denied to the people of all other countries; then, without any reason, she would turn ashy pale and seem about to faint away.
Gradually, however, her natural color would return and she would begin to speak. This had hitherto seldom given her any concern, and she would come to dinner without embarrassment all dishevelled by her sister, the breeze. But now she would go to her room and arrange the untidy locks, and when I would say, with familiar gallantry, which, however, always offended her "'You are as beautiful as a star to-day, Miss Harriet,' a blush would immediately rise to her cheeks, the blush of a young girl, of a girl of fifteen. I thought, 'This is only a fit of temper; it will blow over.
I never saw her now except at meals, and we spoke but little. I concluded at length that I must have offended her in some way, and, accordingly, I said to her one evening:. What have I done to displease you? You are causing me much pain! It is not true, not true,' and she ran upstairs and shut herself up in her room.
I have often said to myself since then that those who are condemned to death must look thus when they are informed that their last day has come. In her eye there lurked a species of insanity, an insanity at once mystical and violent; and even more, a fever, an aggravated longing, impatient and impotent, for the unattained and unattainable. But what do I know? What do I know? And at the extreme end of that heavy, transparent fog one saw, or, rather, surmised, that a couple of human beings were approaching, a human couple, a youth and a maiden, their arms interlaced, embracing each other, their heads inclined toward each other, their lips meeting.
It was well done; yes, indeed, well done. On this particular morning I had, by chance, the sort of floating vapor which I needed. Suddenly something rose up in front of me like a phantom; it was Miss Harriet. On seeing me she was about to flee. But I called after her, saying: 'Come here, come here, mademoiselle. I have a nice little picture for you. I handed her my sketch.
ISBN 13: 9781534701755
She said nothing, but stood for a long time, motionless, looking at it, and suddenly she burst into tears. She wept spasmodically, like men who have striven hard to restrain their tears, but who can do so no longer and abandon themselves to grief, though still resisting. I sprang to my feet, moved at the sight of a sorrow I did not comprehend, and I took her by the hand with an impulse of brusque affection, a true French impulse which acts before it reflects.
Then she withdrew her hands abruptly, or, rather, snatched them away. I knew it. She walked away before I had time to say a word, leaving me as surprised as if I had witnessed a miracle and as troubled as if I had committed a crime. I went to take a turn on the edge of the cliff, feeling that I would just as lief weep as laugh, looking on the adventure as both comic and deplorable and my position as ridiculous, believing her unhappy enough to go insane.
It seemed best for me to leave the place, and I immediately resolved to do so. Miss Harriet was there, eating away solemnly, without speaking to any one, without even lifting her eyes. Her manner and expression were, however, the same as usual. You are going to leave us after I have become so accustomed to you?
Miss Harriet (French Edition)
Her countenance did not change in the least. But Celeste, the little servant, looked up at me. She was a fat girl, of about eighteen years of age, rosy, fresh, as strong as a horse, and possessing the rare attribute of cleanliness. External Reviews. Metacritic Reviews. Photo Gallery. Trailers and Videos. Crazy Credits. Alternate Versions. Chez Maupassant —. Rate This. Season 1 Episode 7. All Episodes Director: Jacques Rouffio. Writers: Guy de Maupassant short story , Philippe Claudel.
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