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I read this story a long time ago in one of our class readings. It keeps coming back to my mind but none of my Internet searches return a story except for news articles. The story goes like this:

A number of children from poor families are playing together. A rich couple gets down from a cart, approaches the first family asking if they would let one of their children be adopted in exchange for a handsome amount of money; the offer gets rejected.

Then they approach the second family, where they readily agree. This family gets repeatedly scorned at by the mother from the first family for long time who continues to say, "I did not sell my child".

After many (20 or so?) years, while the now grown up non-adopted child is returning from heavy laborious work, the same cart returns and now the adopted child, well groomed, gets down to bring presents to his biological parents.

Enraged that what should have been his life, the non-adopted son gets angry with his parents, yells at them and while the mother still repeats "I did not sell my child" and leaves them (permanently or temporarily? I'm unsure since the story we had was supposedly just an excerpt).

Does this ring any bells?

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This perfectly matches the short story Aux champs by Guy de Maupassant, which was published in the collection Contes de la bécasse. (Unfortunately, the English Wikipedia has no entries for these publications.)

Below is a summary, freely translated from the summary in the French Wikipedia article. It turns out that what you read was the entire story.

Two poor families, named Tuvache and Vallin, live in two cottages next to each other. One day, they are visited by Mr. and Mrs. Hubières, who have no children and want to adopt the son of the Tuvache family for a large sum of money. The mother refuses this proposal, which she regards as inhuman. The couple than offers the same contract with a higher sum of money to the Vallin family, who accept.

As a consequence of this "deal", the Tuvache and Vallin families stop communicating with each other. Mrs. Tuvache looks down on her neighbours and considers herself an exemplary mother; as a consequence her son Charlot starts feeling superior because he has not been sold.

Twenty years later, the Vallin family's son, now a rich young man, visits his parents again, who celebrate his visit. Charlot Tuvache becomes envious and is so angry at his parents for not having sold him that he insults them and leaves the house.

For an English translation, see The Adopted Son on Online-Literature.com.

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  • The story matches! In fact the name "Guy de Maupassant" immediately felt familiar. Thank you very much Dec 22 '20 at 13:31

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