After (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A priest shared his life story with an old countess, explaining how his extreme sensitivity led him to choose a life of solitude and service to others to avoid personal suffering.

An old Countess and a priest, Abbé Mauduit, were having a conversation about their love for children and the priest's decision to become a man of God. The Countess asked the priest about the reasons behind his choice to renounce the joys of life, such as marriage and family. The priest hesitated before sharing his story.

Abbé Mauduit — narrator; priest; white-haired, tall, benevolent, friendly, gentle, generous, and sensitive.
Countess de Saville — elderly lady; grandmother of three children; clear-eyed, kind, and understanding.

He explained that he was a sensitive child who suffered greatly at school, feeling lonely and longing for his home. As he grew older, his sensitivity increased, making him extremely timid and fearful of life. After finishing school, he was given six months to choose a career. During this time, he found solace in a dog named Sam, who became his constant companion.

One day, Sam was tragically killed by a passing coach. The priest was devastated by the loss, and his father scolded him for being so affected by such a small tragedy.

What will you do when real sorrow befalls you, when you lose your wife, your children?

This made him realize that he was not meant for an ordinary life, as he would be unable to bear the pain of losing a wife or children. He decided to become a priest to serve others and avoid personal suffering.

The priest admitted that he still felt tormented by the misery of the world, but his choice to become a priest allowed him to convert his unbearable anguish into compassion and pity. The Countess, moved by his story, expressed her gratitude for her grandchildren, who gave her the strength to continue living.