Denis (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A servant attacked his master, then nursed him back to health, only to be arrested for a different crime. The master testified in court, and the servant was acquitted and sent to a sanatorium.

Monsieur Marambot, an old village chemist, lived a quiet life with his loyal servant, Denis, who had been with him for twenty years.

Monsieur Marambot — old village chemist; bachelor; quiet, sad, indecisive; victim of his servant's attack.
Denis — servant; short, stout, jovial; model servant; attacked his master, then cared for him.

One day, Marambot received a letter stating that he would receive a sum of money from a lawsuit. The following day, however, he was attacked in his sleep by Denis, who stabbed him multiple times. Marambot managed to stop the attack by claiming he had not yet received the money.

Stop, stop, Denis, I have not yet received my money!

Surprisingly, Denis then began to care for Marambot's wounds and nursed him back to health. Marambot, fearing for his life, decided to keep Denis close and not report the attack to the authorities.

I swear not to tell on you.

Denis continued to serve Marambot faithfully, and the two maintained a strange relationship.

One day, Denis was arrested for stealing two ducks from a neighbor. Marambot was called to testify in court, where he revealed the attack but maintained that he had not reported it. The lawyer argued that Denis was insane and that his devotion to Marambot after the attack was proof of his mental instability. Marambot, moved by the lawyer's argument, tearfully agreed.

The judge questioned Marambot's decision to keep Denis despite his dangerous behavior. Marambot replied that good servants were hard to find, and he could never have found a better one.

Nowadays it's so hard to find good servants—I could never have found a better one.

Denis was acquitted and placed in a sanatorium at Marambot's expense.