What the Colonel Thought (Maupassant)

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What the Colonel Thought
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A French colonel recounted how his exhausted troops were reinvigorated by rescuing a young woman and her father during a snowy night, emphasizing the power of women to inspire men.

Colonel Laporte, an old man with a deep love for women, believed that the presence of a woman could inspire men to do great things. He shared a story from his time as a captain during the war to prove his point. His detachment of scouts was exhausted, hungry, and struggling to march through the snow. They had to reach Barsur-Tain by the next day or risk being wiped out by the enemy.

Colonel Laporte — narrator; old French colonel; gout-ridden, stiff-legged, but still passionate about women.

As they marched, they came across a father and his daughter fleeing from the enemy. The young girl was struggling to walk, and eventually fainted from exhaustion.

The Young Woman — pretty, fair-haired girl; rescued by the colonel and his men; tired and cold.
The Father — elderly man; father of the young woman; knowledgeable about the local area.

The soldiers, inspired by her presence, quickly made a litter from branches and their capes to carry her. Their spirits lifted, they marched on with renewed energy.

Come on, you fellows, we must carry the young lady, or damn me if we’re decent Frenchmen.

When they encountered a group of enemy soldiers, they swiftly defeated them, further invigorated by the girl's presence. As they finally reached the safety of the French lines, the soldiers celebrated their success and the girl's role in it.

Vive la France!

Colonel Laporte concluded that having a pretty girl in each regiment would be more inspiring than any bugle or drum, as the French were truly great lovers of women.