Precis (Summary) Writing – 19

Precis (Summary) Writing – 19

Creative Writing – 68

The following write-up has 409 words. Write its precis in not more than 145 words.

The passage collected from ‘The Lancer’s Wife’ by Guy de Maupassant

It was after Bourbaki’s defeat in the east of France. The army, broken up, decimated, and worn out, had been obliged to retreat into Switzerland after that terrible campaign, and it was only its short duration that saved a hundred and fifty thousand men from certain death. Hunger, the terrible cold, forced marches in the snow without boots, over bad mountain roads, had caused us ‘francs-tireurs’, especially, the greatest suffering, for we were without tents, and almost without food, always in the van when we were marching toward Belfort, and in the rear when returning by the Jura. Of our little band that had numbered twelve hundred men on the first of January, there remained only twenty-two pale, thin, ragged wretches, when we at length succeeded in reaching Swiss territory.

There we were safe, and could rest. Everybody knows what sympathy was shown to the unfortunate French army, and how well it was cared for. We all gained fresh life, and those who had been rich and happy before the war declared that they had never experienced a greater feeling of comfort than they did then. Just think. We actually had something to eat every day, and could sleep every night.

Meanwhile, the war continued in the east of France, which had been excluded from the armistice. Besancon still kept the enemy in check, and the latter had their revenge by ravaging Franche Comte. Sometimes we heard that they had approached quite close to the frontier, and we saw Swiss troops, who were to form a line of observation between us and them, set out on their march.

That pained us in the end, and, as we regained health and strength, the longing to fight took possession of us. It was disgraceful and irritating to know that within two or three leagues of us the Germans were victorious and insolent, to feel that we were protected by our captivity, and to feel that on that account we were powerless against them.

One day our captain took five or six of us aside, and spoke to us about it, long and furiously. He was a fine fellow, that captain. He had been a sublieutenant in the Zouaves, was tall and thin and as hard as steel, and during the whole campaign he had cut out their work for the Germans. He fretted in inactivity, and could not accustom himself to the idea of being a prisoner and of doing nothing. [409 words]


After the ignominious rout of the army at Bourbaki, we, som 150,000 vanquished soldiers retreated to Switzerland, impoverished, demoralized and barely surviving with minimal food. The barefoot trudge to Belfort along the mountain roads in  biting cold was insufferable. Only 22 of the gallant band of 1200 survived.

The Swiss treated us with care and compassion. They gave us food to eat, and place to sleep. It was like a new life.

The Germans, angered by Besancon’s dogged resistance,   ravaged Franche Comti. The Swiss troops ensured a separation between the Germans and us although we, having regained our strength itched to fight our enemies.  

Our captain, thin, but strong person, was restless to fight. He wasn’t reconciled to his stay under the Swiss protection, On one occasion, he vented his feelings before four of us. [135 words]

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