A Coup d’État (Maupassant)

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A Coup d’État
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A doctor in a small town tried to take over the mayor's position after the fall of the Empire, but faced resistance and struggled to rally the indifferent villagers to his cause.

In a small town called Canneville, the news of the disaster of Sedan and the proclamation of the Republic had just arrived. The mayor, Vicomte de Varnetot, a Legitimist who had recently rallied to the Empire, found himself facing a powerful adversary in Doctor Massarel, a staunch Republican.

Doctor Massarel — narrator; ambitious, passionate about the Republic, easily frustrated.
Vicomte de Varnetot — mayor of Canneville; old, Legitimist, stubborn, and resourceful.

Massarel quickly assembled a militia and demanded that Varnetot hand over his authority to him in the name of the new Republic. Varnetot refused, barricading himself in the town hall with three gamekeepers.

Massarel sent telegrams to the Republican Government, the Prefect of the Seine-Inférieure, and the Subprefect of Dieppe, explaining the situation and asking for orders. He received a reply stating that Varnetot had been recalled and that he should attend to urgent matters. However, Varnetot still refused to leave the town hall, forcing Massarel to take drastic action.

After several failed attempts to force Varnetot out, Massarel finally resorted to shooting a bust of Napoleon III, which he had placed on a chair in front of the town hall. He then declared, "So let all tyrants perish!"

So let all tyrants perish!

Despite his efforts, the townspeople remained unimpressed and indifferent to the situation. Eventually, Varnetot left the town hall, stating that he did not wish to serve the Republic for even a single day.

I do not wish to have the appearance of serving the Republic for a single day.