Guy de Maupassant, (1850 - 1893), a native of Normandy, wrote in a bold and vigorous style that moves inexorably along clear plot lines. He had an astonishing capacity for creating believable characters, and he wasted little ink in putting his stories in motion. Maupassant was a master of "le mot juste", waiting until the perfect word came to him before setting his thoughts to paper. He was one of the first truly modern writers, and today his stories still resonate with enthusiasm and originality. In "Boule de Suif", set during the Franco-Prussian war, a group of French citizens attempt to flee Paris, but are detained in a small town unexpectedly by a Prussian officer who is attracted to Boule de Suif, a woman of ill repute. The attraction is not mutual and the Prussian obstinately keeps everyone at the inn. The basic instincts of clergy, middle class, and aristocrat are forced into the open as they plot their escape. In "At Sea", two brothers become entangled with the elements and greed aboard a fishing vessel. In "An Old Man", a self-centered old man carefully keeps tab of how other residents at his retirement home die. In "The Piece of String", when suspicion falls on a villager, he discovers that reputation weighs more heavily than fact. "Rust" is a very amusing tale of a hunter who falls in love only to discover a certain problem.