Are We to Teach Latin? (Maupassant)

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Are We to Teach Latin?
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A mischievous student orchestrated a romance between his Latin teacher and a laundress, leading to their marriage and the teacher's eventual career change from academia to running a grocery store.

A young man recalled a story from his youth when he was finishing his school life at the Institution Robineau, a boarding school in a large town in the provinces. The school was famous for its high standard of Latin, which was taught by an usher named Daddy Piquedent.

Daddy Piquedent — Latin teacher; passionate about Latin; lonely, naive, and sentimental.

The young man's father enrolled him in the school and arranged for private lessons with Daddy Piquedent. During their private lessons, Daddy Piquedent confided in the young man about his loneliness and desire for a private space.

A man who passes all his life without ever having the right, without even having the time, to shut himself up alone, no matter where, to think, to reflect, to work, to dream!

One day, the young man played a prank on the old usher by convincing him that a young laundress named Angela was in love with him.

Angela — laundress; young, pretty, and resourceful.

The two began a correspondence and eventually agreed to meet for a date on the Isle of Flowers.

During their date, Angela suggested that they could get married and use Daddy Piquedent's savings to open a grocery store.

Then we will buy a grocer's shop. Oh! what luck! We will buy a grocery. Not a big one, of course: you can't go very far on a thousand francs.

Although he was initially hesitant, he eventually agreed to the plan. The young man was sent away to another school, and when he returned to his hometown two years later, he discovered that Daddy Piquedent and Angela had indeed opened a successful grocery store.

Daddy Piquedent had given up teaching Latin and embraced his new life as a grocer, claiming that there was no nourishment in Latin for a man.

I tell you there's no nourishment in it for a man.

The young man was left to reflect on the unexpected consequences of his prank and the surprising turn of events that had led to the usher's happiness.