The Keeper (Maupassant)

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The Keeper
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man recounted a tragic event where his gamekeeper's nephew set fire to their house, resulting in the death of their cook and the nephew being accidentally shot by his uncle.

A man named Monsieur Boniface, a passionate hunter, owned a piece of land on the outskirts of Jumièges, which was perfect for hunting hares and rabbits. He had installed an old retired policeman, Cavalier, as the keeper of the land.

Monsieur Boniface — narrator; strong, debonair, witty, and philosophical.
Cavalier — gamekeeper; old, hot-tempered, conscientious, and loyal.

Cavalier lived in a small cottage with his nephew, Marius, a tall, thin, and somewhat stooping boy with an evil, cunning expression.

Marius — Cavalier's nephew; tall, thin, cunning, and untrustworthy.

One day, Cavalier discovered that Marius had been setting snares on the land, and he was devastated.

I noticed this winter that someone was laying snares in the wood of Roseraies, but I couldn't catch the man.

He decided to punish Marius in front of Monsieur Boniface, who agreed with the decision.

I ask pardon, murmured the young scamp, with downcast eyes.

However, that night, the cottage was set on fire, and Monsieur Boniface suspected Marius was responsible. As they tried to save the cottage, they realized that Céleste, an old woman who helped with the cooking, was trapped inside and had perished in the flames.

Céleste — elderly cook; bent, devoted, and resigned to her fate.

The thatched roof cracked in the middle, above the staircase, which formed a sort of chimney for the fire below.

As they were trying to save the cottage, Marius tried to escape, but Cavalier, in a fit of rage, shot him in the back with Monsieur Boniface's gun. Marius died from his injuries, and Cavalier was devastated by the events. He was later acquitted in a trial, but he left the district the same day and was never seen again.