Old Boniface’s Crime (Maupassant)

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Old Boniface’s Crime
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A postman mistakenly believed a murder was taking place at a tax-collector's house, only to discover that the sounds he heard were of a more intimate nature.

Boniface, a postman, was pleased to find that his delivery route would be shorter than usual. As he walked through the countryside, he read a newspaper article about a gruesome crime that deeply affected him.

Good Lord, there are some villains in this world!

Later, he arrived at the house of Monsieur Chapatis, a tax-collector, to deliver his mail. He noticed that the door was locked and the shutters were closed, which was unusual for that time of day.

Boniface — postman; middle-aged, tall, with long legs and a military gait; naive, easily frightened.
Monsieur Chapatis — tax-collector; recently married; lives in a secluded house.

As he walked around the house, he heard groans coming from inside, and he became convinced that a crime was taking place. Terrified, he ran to the police station to report the incident.

Quick! Quick! Thieves are in the house, I heard screams, there's barely time!

Inspector Malautour and Constable Rantieux accompanied him back to the house, where they listened carefully for any sounds of distress.

Inspector Malautour — police inspector; round, moist eyes; amused by Boniface's mistake.
Constable Rantieux — police constable; subordinate to Inspector Malautour; also amused by Boniface's mistake.

To Boniface's surprise, the inspector began to laugh, and he eventually explained to the confused postman that the sounds he had heard were not of a crime, but of a more intimate nature between Monsieur Chapatis and his wife. Embarrassed and bewildered, Boniface continued on his delivery route, while the inspector and constable continued to laugh and tease him about his mistake.