field of cows © 2011 . All rights reserved.

Country Life

Every day trivial bits of local gossip increased her disgust and lowered her opinion of mankind. The Couillards’ daughter had just had a child and was going to be married shortly ; the Martins’ maid, an orphan, was pregnant, so was a neighbour’s daughter of fifteen, and a widow too, a poor lame dirty old thing, known as Ma Mudlark from her filthy unwashed condition. One heard every day of some new pregnancy or of the misconduct of some girl or married woman with children of her own or of some wealthy respected farmer. The warm spring seemed to be stirring up the sap in mankind as violently as in the plants. Jeanne’s sensual impulses were dead and no longer worried her ; her broken heart and romantic soul were only soothed by the warm fertilising breath of spring and she lived in a world of fancy, excited but without passion, day-dreaming, dead to all the lusts of the flesh. With a feeling of revulsion, which amounted almost to hatred, she could not understand the foul bestiality of the world.

A Woman’s Life
Guy de Maupassant
Translated by H N P Sloman

Pictures taken in and around Le Mas d’Azil, Arriège region of France, in July 2011.