Guillemot Rock (Maupassant)

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Guillemot Rock
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A group of old friends gathered annually to hunt guillemots, but one of them was delayed due to his son-in-law's death, causing a dilemma between fulfilling his duty and enjoying the tradition.

Every year from April to May, a group of old gentlemen would gather at a small watering-place called Étretat to hunt guillemots, a rare migratory bird. These birds would travel from Newfoundland to lay their eggs and hatch them on a specific rock near Étretat, known as Guillemot Rock. The hunters were fanatical about this sport and would not miss it for anything in the world.

What force, what unconquerable instinct, what age-long custom impels these birds to return to this spot?

One year, one of the hunters, Monsieur d'Arnelles, arrived late to the gathering.

Monsieur d'Arnelles — elderly gentleman; guillemot hunter; devoted to tradition; conflicted between duty and pleasure.

He explained that he had urgent business to attend to and would have to leave soon. The next day, he seemed distracted during the hunt and admitted that he was annoyed about having to leave. His friends insisted on knowing the reason for his departure.

Monsieur d'Arnelles hesitated before revealing that his son-in-law had died and his body was in the barn, waiting to be taken to his home in Briseville. He had made a detour to keep the hunting appointment but could delay no longer.

You see … you see, I am not alone here; I have my son-in-law with me.

His friends, however, convinced him that since the son-in-law was already dead, waiting one more day would not make a difference. Relieved, Monsieur d'Arnelles agreed to stay and informed the undertaker that they would leave the day after tomorrow.