Alexander (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An old servant revealed his lifelong devotion to his mistress, who appreciated his loyalty despite her husband's constant mistreatment. They continued to support each other through their daily struggles.

Every day at four o'clock, Alexander, an old servant, would bring a three-wheeled invalid carriage to take his old, helpless mistress, Mme. Maramballe, out for a walk until six o'clock, as per the doctor's orders.

Alexander — old servant; former soldier; loyal, devoted, and respectful; has a long, white beard.
Mme. Maramballe — old lady; kindhearted, gentle, and understanding; has a sweet face and white curly hair.

Alexander had been in their service for thirty-five years, first as an officer's orderly, then as an ordinary valet, and now for six years, he had been wheeling his mistress through the narrow roads around the town. Their daily walks often led them to discuss household affairs, and their chief subject of conversation was the bad temper of Mme. Maramballe's husband, a retired infantry captain named Joseph Maramballe.

Captain Maramballe — retired infantry captain; Mme. Maramballe's husband; bad-tempered, unkind, and unappreciative.

One day, as they were resting on a bench during their walk, Mme. Maramballe asked Alexander why he had stayed with them for so long, despite being treated poorly and paid little. Alexander hesitated before admitting that it was not her husband, but Mme. Maramballe herself who had made him stay. He explained that the first time he had taken a letter from the Lieutenant to her and she had given him a franc with a smile, he felt drawn towards her.

It is not he, it is you!

As they returned from their walk, they encountered Captain Maramballe, who angrily complained about having chicken for dinner again.

Chicken, chicken again, always chicken, damn it!

Mme. Maramballe calmly explained that it was the best thing for his digestion, as per the doctor's orders. The captain blamed Alexander for his health issues, claiming that his cooking had been poisoning him for thirty-five years. Mme. Maramballe and Alexander exchanged a glance of mutual gratitude, knowing that their bond was stronger than the captain's anger.