The Woodcocks (Maupassant)

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The Woodcocks
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man enjoyed hunting woodcocks with his friends in the countryside, while listening to a farmer's story about a deaf-mute shepherd who killed his unfaithful wife and was acquitted.

A man lived in a big Norman house in a valley near a stream, enjoying the simple autumn life of a sportsman. He spent his days shooting and reading books that Parisians had no time to know. One day, he and his two friends, the d'Orgemol brothers, set out for their farm at Cannetot, near Fécamp, to hunt woodcocks. They traveled in a strange hunting-coach, which contained everything they needed for their journey.

The Narrator — narrator; sportsman who enjoys hunting woodcocks and prefers the countryside to city life.
Simon d'Orgemol — one of the narrator's friends; a tall, fair-haired Norman man with a strong accent.
Gaspard d'Orgemol — Simon's brother and the narrator's friend; a tall, fair-haired Norman man with a strong accent.

Upon arriving at the farm, they were greeted by the farmer, Monsieur Picot, and his wife. They spent their days hunting rabbits and woodcocks, enjoying the cold winter mornings and the camaraderie of their fellow hunters.

Farmer Picot — owner of the farm where the narrator and his friends hunt; jovial, plump, and cunning.

One day, while hunting with Monsieur Picot, the man learned the story of Gargan, the deaf-mute shepherd who had killed his wife.

Gargan — deaf-mute shepherd who killed his unfaithful wife; tall, thin, and bearded.

It is the woodcock season. I must tell you that I live in a big Norman house, in a valley, near a little stream, and that I get some shooting almost every day.

Gargan had been married to a young girl nicknamed "A Wee Drop" due to her fondness for brandy. After their marriage, she became unfaithful, and the whole countryside made a joke of cuckolding poor Gargan. One day, Gargan caught his wife in the act and strangled her to death. He was tried in court, and with the help of Monsieur Picot, who served as his interpreter, he was acquitted.

He has his honour, this man before you.

The man continued to spend his days hunting and enjoying the simple life, while his friends in Paris watched the arrival of the first winter dresses in the Bois.