Short summary - The Game of Billiards - Alphonse Daudet

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Game of Billiards
Alphonse Daudet

VERY BRIEF: Instead of directing the course of the battle, the Marshal plays a game of billiards at the headquarters. The battle was eventually lost, the army retreats without waiting for the orders of the commander, but the marshal won his party.

The battle has been going on for two days. The exhausted soldiers spent the night in the pouring rain, and for three hours they have been standing in full combat readiness in the middle of a muddy field. They are waiting for an order, but the headquarters does not send it. Meanwhile, the marshal, instead of commanding the troops, plays billiards with the captain, surrounded by staff officers located in a luxurious castle from the time of Louis XIII. The sounds of battle do not reach here, and the rain, which washed away the roads, only refreshed the lawns of the palace park.

When the marshal started the party, the whole world could fail, but nothing can stop him. The young captain is able to beat anyone, but the marshal is an avid player, and the captain, in order to successfully continue his career, it is advisable to lose the game to his commander, which everyone present understands very well. The sounds of cannon shots are suddenly heard before the castle. The officers run up to the windows in alarm, but the marshal is so keen on the game that he does not notice anything.

The captain, shaken to the core by this act of his commander, loses his head, forgets about his career, makes some really good hits and almost wins. The Marshal accepts the challenge, and the billiards game takes on the character of a fierce confrontation. A mud-covered adjutant rushes into the headquarters, but the marshal flatly refuses to command the troops exhausted during the battle, which has reached its climax, until this game is finished.

Soldiers are dying in inaction, with weapons in hand, not understanding why "the blood of the sons of France" is being shed in vain. And now the battle is lost, the army retreats in disarray, without waiting for the orders of the commander. But the Marshal wins the billiards game.