A Norman (Maupassant)

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A Norman
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man and his friend visited a former sergeant-major who became the guardian of a miraculous chapel, made a living selling prayers and wooden saints, and measured his drunkenness with a boozometer.

Two friends were traveling through the beautiful countryside of Normandy, enjoying the magnificent views of the Seine River and the surrounding landscape. They decided to visit a local man named Matthew, who was known for his humorous and eccentric personality. Matthew was a former sergeant-major and the guardian of a miraculous chapel, which was frequented by pregnant women seeking the protection of the Virgin Mary.

Matthew — former sergeant-major; guardian of a miraculous chapel; cunning, witty, and a heavy drinker.

Matthew had a unique way of treating the Virgin Mary, speaking of her with a mix of humor and reverence. He had even composed a special prayer for her, which was considered quite amusing and ironic. In addition to his duties at the chapel, Matthew also carved and sold wooden statuettes of various saints, each with their own special healing powers.

Matthew was also known for his love of drinking and his ability to accurately gauge his level of intoxication. He referred to this as his "boozometer" and would often share his observations with others, claiming that he had never reached the "hundredth degree" of drunkenness. One day, while the friends were visiting Matthew and his wife Mélie, two elderly women arrived at the chapel seeking a particular saint, Saint Blanc.

Mélie — Matthew's wife; angry at her husband's drinking habits; practical, assertive.

Matthew searched for the wooden figure but could not find it, until Mélie reminded him that he had used it to repair a hole in their rabbit hutch. Matthew quickly retrieved the muddy and dirty statue, cleaned it up, and presented it to the women, who knelt and prayed before it.

But the saints, you see, never die.

Afterward, Matthew and the friends shared more drinks and laughter, with Matthew insisting that they should never stop at less than fifty drinks among friends.

Amongst friends you must never go less than fifty, and we're only at thirty-eight.

The day was filled with humor, camaraderie, and a unique glimpse into the quirky and charming world of a true Norman character.