A Vendetta (Maupassant)

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A Vendetta
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An old woman trained her dog to attack and kill the man who murdered her son, fulfilling her promise of revenge.

In a small house on the ramparts of Bonifacio, an old widow named Paolo Saverini lived with her son Antoine and their dog Sémillante.

Paolo Saverini's widow — old woman; vengeful, determined, and cunning.
Antoine Saverini — young man; murdered by Nicolas Ravolati.
Sémillante — large, thin sheepdog; trained by the old woman to kill.

One evening, after a quarrel, Antoine was killed by a man named Nicolas Ravolati, who fled to Sardinia that same night.

Nicolas Ravolati — murderer of Antoine; fled to Sardinia.

The grieving mother promised her son's body that she would avenge his death.

There, there, you shall be avenged, my little one, my boy, my poor child. Sleep, sleep, you shall be avenged, do you hear!

As days passed, the old woman became obsessed with her vendetta, constantly watching the shores of Sardinia where she knew the murderer was hiding. She came up with a plan to train their dog, Sémillante, to attack and kill the man who had taken her son's life. She starved the dog for days and then tied a piece of black pudding to a straw dummy, encouraging the dog to attack and devour it.

When day broke, Mother Saverini went to her neighbour to ask him to give her two trusses of straw.

This training continued for three months, with the dog becoming more and more aggressive.

When the time was right, the old woman disguised herself as a man and traveled to Sardinia with Sémillante. She found Nicolas Ravolati working in his shop and, without hesitation, released the dog to attack him. The dog lunged at the man's throat, and after a brief struggle, Nicolas was killed.

The maddened beast dashed forward and seized his throat.

The old woman returned home that night, her vendetta fulfilled, and slept soundly for the first time since her son's death.