Love (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man recalled a hunting trip with his cousin, during which they killed a pair of ducks, and the male duck's mournful cries for its mate deeply affected the man.

A man with a deep love for hunting was invited by his cousin, Karl, to go duck hunting in the marshes at daybreak. The man had a particular fascination with marshes, as they seemed to hold a mysterious and profound secret. They arrived at Karl's manor farm, which was surrounded by woods and a marsh, and made plans for their early morning hunt.

The Narrator — narrator; passionate about hunting; sensitive to the emotions of animals.
Karl de Rauville — narrator's cousin; country gentleman; jolly, strong, bearded, and witty.

They set out in the freezing cold, bundled up in animal skins, and reached the marsh. They built a small fire in a glass hut to keep warm while they waited for the ducks to awaken. As the sky began to lighten, they heard the cries of the wild birds and began shooting at them as they flew overhead. The man was deeply moved by the sound of the birds' cries, feeling as if they were sighs from the heart of the world.

Never has bitterness of grief so torn my heart as this desolate call, the mournful reproach of this poor bird lost in space.

As they were about to leave, the man shot a silver-breasted teal out of the sky. Its mate began to circle above them, crying out in grief. Karl suggested leaving the dead bird on the ground to lure the mate closer. The grieving bird eventually came close enough for Karl to shoot it down as well.

He did come, indeed, quite careless of any danger, drawn by his bird’s love for the other whom I had killed.

The man felt a deep sadness for the two birds, who were now both dead because of their love for each other. He buried them together in the marsh and left for Paris that same day.