Country Courts (Maupassant)

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Country Courts
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman sought justice in a country court after a young man she raised and promised her property to left her for another woman, but the judge could not help her.

In a small town courthouse, a group of country folk gathered to witness the proceedings of the day. Among them were large and small, ruddy fat fellows and thin ones, all absorbed in their own affairs. The room was filled with the smells of the stable, sweat, sour milk, and manure. Flies buzzed about under the white ceiling, and through the open door, one could hear the cocks crowing.

The Justice of the Peace, a corpulent and ruddy-complexioned man, entered the court and began the proceedings.

The Justice of the Peace — corpulent, ruddy-complexioned man; witty, scholarly, and unsympathetic.

The first case involved Madame Bascule, a large country woman, and Isidore Paturon, a young peasant.

Madame Bascule — large, well-dressed woman; emotional, possessive, and desperate.
Isidore Paturon — young peasant man; chubby, red-faced, and defiant.

Madame Bascule accused Isidore of breaking his promise to never leave her and serve her with devotion, in exchange for a small property she had given him. She claimed that Isidore was now planning to marry another woman and bring her the property as a dowry.

Your Honour, for fifteen years I have looked after this boy here. I have brought him up and loved him like a mother, I have done everything for him, I have made a man of him.

Isidore, his wife, and his father stood on the opposite side of the court. The young peasant denied making the promise, and his father accused Madame Bascule of debauching his son when he was only fifteen years old. The Justice of the Peace questioned both parties and read the document that Madame Bascule had presented as evidence of Isidore's promise. The document was a simple statement with a cross for a signature, which Isidore claimed he did not make.

It isn’t true, your Honour. I wanted to leave her five years ago, because she had fattened beyond all bounds, and that didn’t suit me a bit.

The Justice of the Peace ultimately ruled in favor of Isidore, stating that he had given the property to him legally and that he had the right to do what he wished with it. Madame Bascule was left in tears, and the Justice advised her to look for another "pupil." She lamented that she would never find one, and the Justice expressed his regret that he could not help her in that regard.

I am sorry I cannot put you in the way of one.

As Madame Bascule left the courtroom, the Justice turned to his clerk and made a lighthearted comment about the situation before calling the next case. The country folk in attendance continued to watch the proceedings, their interest piqued by the drama that had just unfolded before them.