A Dead Woman's Secret (Maupassant)

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A Dead Woman's Secret
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A brother and sister mourned their deceased mother, only to discover her secret love affair through old letters, leading them to question their family's strict moral code and their mother's true character.

A woman passed away peacefully, leaving behind her son, a strict magistrate, and her daughter, a nun named Sister Eulalie.

Sister Eulalie — nun; daughter of the deceased woman; devoted, emotional.
The Magistrate — son of the deceased woman; strict, principled, and inflexible.

The siblings mourned their mother's death, remembering her as a virtuous and loving woman who had raised them with a strong sense of morality and duty.

Mamma, mamma, mamma!

They had little knowledge of their father, only knowing that he had made their mother unhappy. As they grieved, Sister Eulalie suggested they read their mother's old letters to relive her life and memories. They found letters from their grandparents and other relatives, which they decided to bury with their mother. However, they also discovered a packet of passionate love letters, signed by a man named Henry. Their father's name was René, so they realized that their mother had a secret lover.

I love you to distraction. Since yesterday I have been suffering like a damned soul burned by the recollection of you.

The magistrate, shocked by this revelation, closed the curtains around his mother's bed and decided to distance himself from her memory. As the sun rose, he told his sister that it was time for them to leave the room, leaving behind the image of their once-beloved mother tainted by her secret affair.