An Idyll (Maupassant)

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An Idyll
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A young man and a lactating woman met on a train journey, and after sharing their stories, the woman allowed the man to drink her milk to alleviate her discomfort and his hunger.

A young man and a stout woman found themselves sitting opposite each other in the last carriage of a train traveling from Genoa to Marseilles. They were both from Piedmont and began to talk about their homes and mutual acquaintances.

The Young Man — thin, sunburned, dark complexion; laborer seeking work in France; hungry and grateful.
The Nurse — stout, married woman from Piedmont; large black eyes, full bust, fat cheeks; compassionate, suffering from lactation discomfort.

The woman was married with three children and had found a job as a nurse in Marseilles, while the young man was going to France to seek work.

As the train continued its journey, the heat became unbearable and the woman started to feel unwell. She revealed that she had not nursed since the previous day and felt as if she were going to faint.

I have not nursed since yesterday; I feel as if I were going to faint.

The young man, unsure of what to say, listened as she explained how her milk would flow like a fountain if she pressed on her swollen breast.

At a station, they saw a thin, ragged woman holding a crying infant. The nurse expressed her desire to help the woman and her baby, saying she would give five francs to be able to nurse the child for ten minutes. As the train moved on, the woman's condition worsened and she opened her waist, revealing her swollen breast.

Feeling embarrassed, the young man offered to help her. She gratefully accepted, and he got on his knees and began to drink from her breast like a baby. After a while, she told him to switch to the other side, and he continued to drink until she felt better.

That's enough, now the other side!

She thanked him for his help, and he thanked her in return, revealing that he hadn't eaten anything for two days.