Châli (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A French naval officer stationed in India received a young girl as a gift from a prince, and they developed a deep bond. After leaving India, he later discovered she was wrongly punished for stealing a gift he had given her.

A French admiral named de la Valle once shared a story of his love adventure in Central India. At the age of thirty, he was entrusted with an astronomical expedition and was provided with all the necessary means by the English Government. During his journey, he encountered magnificent regions, handsome princes, and incredible monuments.

Eventually, he reached Ganhara, a city governed by a wealthy and cruel prince named Rajah Maddan.

Rajah Maddan — Indian prince; wealthy, generous, and cruel; fond of hunting and entertainment.

The prince took a liking to de la Valle and organized various entertainments for him, such as tiger hunts and wrestling matches. One day, the prince sent de la Valle a gift of six young girls, the eldest being ten years old, to serve as his wives. De la Valle was initially uncomfortable with the idea but eventually grew fond of the girls, especially the eldest, Châli.

Châli — young Indian girl; gentle, innocent, and devoted; beautiful with yellowish skin.

I cherished her as if I had been her father and I caressed her like a lover.

Châli and de la Valle developed a deep bond, and she became his wife. They spent their days exploring the ruins of the old castle and playing with monkeys. However, de la Valle eventually had to leave India to return to his duties. Before leaving, he gave Châli a small box covered with shells as a parting gift.

Two years later, de la Valle returned to India and inquired about Châli's whereabouts. He was devastated to learn that she had been accused of stealing the shell-covered box and was punished by being tied up in a sack and thrown into the lake.

She was tied up in a sack and thrown into the lake from this window, from the window of the room in which we are, where she had committed the theft.

De la Valle spent a night mourning her loss on the gallery overlooking the lake before leaving India once again, forever haunted by the memory of his love for Châli.

Admiral de la Valle — narrator; French naval officer; experienced traveler; kind, compassionate.