A Christmas Tale (Maupassant)

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A Christmas Tale
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A country doctor witnessed a miracle on Christmas night when a priest's presentation of the monstrance during Mass seemingly cured a woman believed to be possessed by a demon.

Doctor Bonenfant, a country doctor in Normandy, witnessed a miracle on Christmas night. The winter that year was extremely harsh, with heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. A mysterious terror had spread across the countryside, with people claiming to hear strange noises and cries at night.

In the hamlet of Épivent, a blacksmith named Vatinel found an egg on the snow-covered road. He brought it home to his wife, who hesitated to eat it but eventually did. Soon after, she began experiencing terrifying convulsions and spasms, claiming that something was inside her body.

Doctor Bonenfant — narrator; country doctor; skeptical, observant.
The Possessed Woman — smith's wife; terrified, suffering from convulsions and delusions.

I have it in my body! I have it in my body!

The entire village believed she was possessed, and the local priest attempted to exorcise her, but to no avail.

The Priest — simple old man; village priest; faithful, determined.

On Christmas Eve, the priest decided to bring the woman to the midnight Mass, hoping that a miracle would occur. Doctor Bonenfant and four strong men carried the woman, who was still bound and screaming, to the church. The priest waited for the right moment, immediately after communion, to present the woman with the monstrance, a golden vessel containing the Eucharist.

As the woman stared at the monstrance, her convulsions and screams gradually subsided. She became completely silent and eventually fell into a deep sleep, as if hypnotized by the sight of the sacred object.

She was sleeping like a somnambulist, hypnotized—pardon! conquered by the prolonged contemplation of the monstrance with its shining rays of gold, overcome by Christ victorious.

The congregation, amazed by the miracle, sang a hymn of gratitude.

The woman slept for forty hours straight and woke up with no memory of her possession or the events that had transpired. Doctor Bonenfant, despite his skepticism, could not deny the miracle he had witnessed and even swore to it in writing.