A Late Hour (Bunin)

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A Late Hour
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man revisited his hometown in Russia, reminiscing about his youth, his love, and the changes that time brought. He ended his journey at the graveyard, paying respects to his lost love.

A man returned to his hometown in Russia after many years of absence. He crossed a familiar bridge and noticed a paddle steamer on the river, which was a new sight. He walked through the town, which was quiet and deserted, and reminisced about his youth and a girl he once loved.

The Narrator — narrator; an older man revisiting his past; nostalgic, reflective.
The Narrator's Love — the narrator's past love; young, maidenly, and radiant in his memories.

He remembered a fire that had occurred in the town and how he had kissed the girl's hand for the first time during the chaos.

My God, what ineffable happiness it was! It was during a fire at night that I kissed your hand for the first time, and you gave mine a squeeze in reply.

He visited his old school and then walked down a street where he used to live. He remembered a warm summer night when he and the girl had sat together in her family's garden. He had told her that if they met in the afterlife, he would kneel and kiss her feet in gratitude for the happiness she had given him.

If there is a future life and we meet in it, I shall kneel down there and kiss your feet for all that you gave me on earth.

He then walked to the town's cemetery, which was located in a grove of trees. He was startled by a dark shape that rushed at him, which left him feeling cold and frightened. He continued walking until he reached a small, narrow stone at the end of a path. He recognized it as the girl's grave. As he stood there, he saw a green star shining low in the sky behind the cemetery wall. He then decided to leave his hometown for good after revisiting his past.