Old Mother Savage

English’s Docs Intermediate Old Mother Savage

Old Mother Savage
Adapted from Guy de Maupassant

 

Old Mother Savage had just one son. She loved him with all her heart. At 33, he volunteered as a soldier for France. He said “goodbye” and left his mother.  Mother Savage was very sad and lonely.  She lived alone in a large house. It was a long distance from the city.

One day enemy troops arrived. Germans controlled the city. German soldiers took people’s houses and food.

Four soldiers knocked at the door. They were respectful and polite. “Madame, we are German soldiers. You are not in danger… but we must stay in your house,” they said.
Old Mother Savage sighed. “Yes, come in.”
“I am sorry,” said one kind soldier. “It is an order from the General.”
“We can sleep in the barn,” said one soldier.
They were the enemy, but they were kind.

So the old woman used straw to make four beds in the barn. Every day, Old Mother Savage talked to the soldiers. She wanted information about the war. The soldiers said the French were losing. Old Mother Savage was very sad. Her son was probably in danger!

Day after day, she cried for her son. She cried for her city. She cried for France. She hated the German soldiers, even though they were respectful to her.
One day, a letter arrived. It was from her son’s unit. Quickly, she opened the letter. Her hands trembled. She read:

Dear Madame Savage,
I am sorry to inform you of your son’s death…

She stopped. She fell back and cried uncontrollably.

Eventually, Old Mother Savage stopped. It was 7:00 – dinner time. She was supposed to cook dinner. But how?  Her son was dead.

That night, the four soldiers were surprised. There was a delicious dinner on the table. “Thank you, it looks delicious,” they said. But Old Mother Savage did not respond. The soldiers ate and ate. But Old Mother Savage did not eat.

Then, she went to the barn. She put extra straw in their beds. After dinner, the soldiers were surprised. “Thank you! Our beds are very comfortable,” said the soldiers. Old Mother Savage said only, “Where does your family live? What is your address?” The soldiers were surprised. “My address? Why?” said one.
But she only repeated, “What is your address?”
One soldier was kind. He said his address. “Perhaps you will send a letter?” he said. But Old Mother Savage did not respond.
Then the other soldiers said their names and addresses. The Old Mother made a list.
“Goodnight” said the soldiers. They were curious but did not suspect any danger. She was just an old woman. Then, the soldiers relaxed in their beds.

The four soldiers slept. Silently, Old Mother Savage added more and more hay to the barn. She was outside the barn. She blocked the door. Then, she struck a match.
Finally, she cried. She heard screams. They were screams of torment from the barn. The minutes passed and then the screams stopped.

At that moment, a large troop of soldiers arrived. One soldier asks, “What happened here?”
Old Mother Savage told the truth. She had started the fire. She was responsible.
“Who was in the fire?” he asked.
Old Mother Savage gave him the list of names and addresses. She said, “Please write to their mothers. Their mothers deserve the truth.”

In a rage, the German soldier pushed her. The old woman fell back. The troop of soldiers shot her again and again. She fell dead with a bloody letter in her hand.

Dear Madame Savage,
I am sorry to inform you of your son’s death…