Short Fiction Piece

On Tuesday morning was a market day around the country of Goderville whereby peasants together with their wives were flowing into the town. Their slow movements were followed by pushing forward of their bodies through their legs which were long and crooked. Their daily work, which involved pushing of the plough, made their left-shoulder higher and completely bent theirs on one side. They had to spread their feet as they reap the grains to stabilize their feet. They wore blue colored blouses that were starched and glossily vanished. They had ornaments on the collars and cuffs that had embroidered designs with a brown outing worn on their skeletal bodies. They resembled balloons, which were just about to soar at the issue of two arms and feet.

Some fellows pushed a cow or at times a calf towards the end of a rope. The wives who struck its back with branches that were covered by leaves to quicken its speed followed the Animal. Inside the women, baskets there were protruding heads of ducks and chicken. The women were observed to make quicker energetic steps than their men did. Mens bodies were not admirable as their dried-up figures, which were erect with their heads that were wrapped with white clothing, hid their hair, and wore a head cap on top.

On the road, a char-a-banc passed them, jogging and shaking two men who were on the seat together with one woman who tightly held its sides. On reaching the market, it was filled with great crowd with a mixture of men and women together with other beasts. There were cattle horns, wealthy peasants who wore long-napped hats, and women headdresses from the surface of the sea. There were sharp barking voices that continuously produced a wild din and above it occasionally came a huge laughter from merry peasant sturdy lungs. There were also loud bellows of cows tied tightly to the walls of houses.

The whole market had a smell of stable, hay, perspiration, and hay, which smelled half-human and half-animal odor that is unique to country folks. Maitre Hauchecorne from Breaute arrived at Goderville and was heading into the square when he found a string on the ground. Maitre Hauchecorne as economic as true Normans showed that all things were important to get and use but according to him, it was painful since he was suffering from rheumatism. He was at the point of picking the thin string and rolling it up when he saw the maker of harness at his door looking at him.

Shame overcame Hauchecorne when his enemy picking many strings in the road saw him. To avoid further shame he hid it behind his blouse and in his pocket and pretended to look at something on the ground that he never discovered fully and went to the market place. His head was forced to bend forward doubling his body due to rheumatic pain.

At one time, he got lost in the crowd, which was moving slowly accompanied by the bargains and chaffles. The market place was full of peasants examining cows and giving themselves time to make decisions as they were always in fear of being cheated. They always concentrated on the seller with an attempt of discovering his tricks and willing to defeat them.

Women placed their baskets at their feet and took out their poultry displaying them for sell. They closed their legs together looking at buyers with terrified eyes and scarlet combs. The women tried to maintain their prices with impassive faces in an attempt to accept smaller prices offered and calling their customers who had decided to go away.

At midday, the hotels and other dining rooms were full of people eating to their satisfaction. Vehicles of all types, gigs, wagons, occupied the vast court and chars-a-bancs colored yellow, and having mud. They raised their shafts to heaven and resembled two arms with their great noises to the ground and rear filled the air.

Just opposite the dinner table was a large fireplace with bright flames that emitted burning heat on backs on people sitting on the right. There were three spits turning with heavy loads of pigeons and mutton joints with roast meat odor. Together with an over crisp brown skin arising from the earth and kindling merriment that made many mouths water.

Almost all plough aristocracy ate at Mait Jourdain who was the innkeeper, dealt with horses, and made huge money in the day. In the hotel, the waiters passed the dishes and emptied others together with yellow cider jugs. People in the palace told stories of their sales and purchases and exchanged crop news. There was good weather for greens although it was very wet for grains.

Suddenly there were drumbeats from the courtyard infront of the house that made everyone to run towards the door and the windows having their mouths full and holding the napkins. After finishing the tattoo the public crier called using a jerky voice and pausing upon reaching the wrong places.

He made it known to Goderville inhabitants that in the morning a pocket book made of black leather having  five hundred francs and few business papers was lost along Beuzeville road around nine and ten o’clock. The person requested for a return of the documents to the office of the mayor for a reward of twenty francs. There were faint voices of the public crier and drumbeats after which people discussed the chances availed to the one who would find the pocket book.

Almost all people were finishing their food and drinking their coffee when gendarme’s corporal appeared and requested Maitre Hauchecorne to appear. The mayor who was seated on an armchair was waiting for him. He possed a pompous speech, graveness and unique height. He was reported to have picked the pocket book that was lost by Maître Houlbreque of Manneville.      The compatriot was afraid of the suspicion and demanded to know who saw him pick the pocket book. Suddenly he was informed that the harness-maker saw him pick it. Maire pulled part of the string from his pocket and showed the mayor who shook his head in great disbelief. He tried to protect himself but all in vain since he was also accused of confirming that not one single coin fell from the ground. To confirm that he was telling the truth the guards searched his pockets and found nothing. At the time, the mayor confirmed that he never stole the pocket book. He was sent away with a warning of having to inform the prosecutor of the public and ask for any orders from him. Unfortunately, the news had spread to the public such that upon his release he was being mocked and interrogated. He began telling the story about the string which was received in great laughter and disbelief.