Our Friends the English (Maupassant)

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Our Friends the English
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A French traveler encountered a group of English people at a hotel, observing their peculiar habits and engaging in a series of confrontations, ultimately leading to his expulsion from the hotel.

A traveler found himself in Mentone, a town known for its large population of people suffering from tuberculosis. He checked into a large hotel, which seemed empty due to its size. During his stay, he observed many sick people being taken for walks by their bored caretakers and noticed that most of the hotel's residents were English.

One evening, the traveler attended a dinner at the hotel, where he was surrounded by English guests. The dinner began with a long prayer recited by a head-parson.

The Head-Parson — English clergyman; serious, knowledgeable about the Bible, leader of the group.

The guests engaged in serious discussions about biblical texts throughout the meal. After dinner, the guests gathered in the lounge, where they sang hymns loudly and off-key, much to the traveler's annoyance.

The following days, the traveler went on various excursions to nearby towns and returned to the hotel each evening to find the English guests dancing and socializing. However, he remained an outsider, as he had not been formally introduced to any of the guests.

On a subsequent Sunday, the traveler decided to take revenge on the English guests for their previous hymn-singing. He hid the key to the piano and refused to give it to the guests when they wanted to sing hymns again. The guests were forced to sing without the piano, and the traveler was eventually asked to leave the hotel at the request of the English guests.

I cannot, gentlemen, permit you to employ in the service of God an instrument used on weekdays for girls to dance to.

Before leaving, the traveler confronted the three parsons and questioned them about a biblical story involving incest. The parsons were unable to provide a satisfactory answer and quickly fled from the traveler.

The three parsons, as one man, abruptly turned their backs on me, and fled.

The traveler then left Mentone and boarded a train for Nice.