The Marquis of Fumerol (Maupassant)

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The Marquis of Fumerol
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A dying aristocrat was visited by his family and a priest, who tried to administer last rites despite his resistance, while dealing with his scandalous lifestyle and mistresses.

Roger de Tourneville was discussing his family's story with a group of friends. His father, a staunch royalist, and his mother, a devout Catholic, were concerned about the impending death of his uncle, the Marquis de Fumerol.

Vicomte Roger de Tourneville — narrator; young man; son of the Comte and Comtesse de Tourneville.
Marquis de Fumerol — dying uncle; old aristocrat; white beard and hair; lived a scandalous life.

The Marquis had led a wild life, wasting his fortune on women and living with two mistresses in a small apartment. He was known to be a freethinker and his death without the last rites would be a scandal for the family and the Catholic Church.

Roger's mother decided to send a priest, Father Poivron, to administer the last rites to the Marquis.

Comtesse de Tourneville — narrator's mother; religious and devoted to her family; determined to save her brother's soul.
Father Poivron — priest; neat, plump, and faintly perfumed; tries to administer last rites to the Marquis.

They went to the apartment, where they met Mélanie, the Marquis' servant.

Mélanie — servant; massive and slovenly; helps the family in their attempts to save the Marquis.

She warned them that the Marquis might not be receptive to the priest. Roger went in first to gauge his uncle's reaction, but the Marquis was not pleased to see the priest. He angrily ordered them to leave.

Get out of here … get out of here … robber of souls.—Get out of here, violator of consciences. Get out of here, picker of dying men’s locks!

The family and the priest retreated to the kitchen to discuss their next move. Suddenly, they heard a commotion and found the Marquis in a rage, as a Protestant clergyman and the house porter had also tried to administer last rites. Roger threw them out and returned to the kitchen. Mélanie then informed them that the Marquis was dying.

Roger's mother took charge, ordering the two mistresses to leave. Father Poivron administered the last rites and the Marquis died.

He knows me. He pressed my hand. I am sure he knows me! … and is thanking me. Oh, my God, how happy I am!

The family held a grand funeral for him, with speeches praising his return to the faith. The story ended with the suggestion that such deathbed repentances were not always genuine.