The Orderly (Maupassant)

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The Orderly
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A colonel discovered his wife's infidelity and her suicide note, which revealed the identity of her lover and the blackmail by his orderly. He then killed the orderly in revenge.

A cemetery was crowded with officers attending the funeral of Colonel Limousin's wife, who had drowned in her bath two days earlier. The Colonel, an older man, had married his comrade's orphaned daughter three years prior.

Colonel Limousin — tall, thin, white-moustached man; grieving husband; strong-willed, determined.

No, no! wait a little, he insisted on remaining there, scarcely able to stand, on the edge of the grave, which appeared bottomless to him.

Context: This quote describes Colonel Limousin's grief at his wife's funeral. He resists being led away from her grave, wanting to stay there a little longer.

After the funeral, the Colonel found a letter from his deceased wife on his desk. In the letter, she confessed to having an affair with an officer and being blackmailed by the Colonel's orderly, Philip, who had caught them together.

Philip — colonel's orderly; tall, red-whiskered, cunning, sly, and manipulative.

She had given in to Philip's demands to keep him quiet, but eventually decided to take her own life. Father, do not try to find out who he is, and do not nurse any hatred of him. He has done what anyone else would have done in his place, and then, I am sure that he also loved me with all his heart.

Context: This quote is from the wife's suicide note, in which she asks her husband not to seek revenge on her lover, as she believes he truly loved her.

The Colonel, determined to find out the identity of his wife's lover, confronted Philip and demanded the name. Under the threat of a revolver, Philip revealed that the lover was Captain St. Albert. Upon hearing the name, the Colonel shot Philip dead, avenging his wife's betrayal and the blackmail she had suffered. Scarcely had he uttered the name, when a spurt of flame seared his eyes, and he fell on his face, with a bullet through the middle of his forehead.

Context: This quote describes the moment when Colonel Limousin shoots and kills his orderly, Philip, after learning that he had blackmailed and taken advantage of his wife.