A Traveller’s Notes (Maupassant)

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A Traveller’s Notes
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A traveler observed various passengers on a train journey along the Mediterranean coast, noting their appearances, behaviors, and interactions, while also describing the beautiful scenery and towns they passed.

A man boarded a train at night, sharing a compartment with five other passengers, including a young couple, an old married couple, and a hunchback. As the train journeyed through the night, the man observed the other passengers and wondered if the young couple was married.

The Narrator — observant traveler; curious about fellow passengers; critical of their manners.
The Young Couple — possibly married; share a shawl; woman is pretty and modest but smells strongly of perfume.
The Hunchback — man with a hunchback; bright-eyed; rolls himself into a ball while sleeping.

Eventually, everyone fell asleep, and the train continued its journey alongside the Rhône River.

O sleep! ridiculous mystery which makes faces appear so grotesque, you are the revealer of human ugliness.

As dawn broke, the man noticed the young couple embracing each other and concluded that they were indeed married. The train stopped at Marseilles, where the hunchback disembarked and was replaced by two old gentlemen. The passengers then unpacked their food and began eating, much to the man's annoyance.

I know nothing more common, more vulgar, more out of place, and more ill-bred than to eat in a carriage where there are other passengers.

The train continued its journey along the Mediterranean coast, passing through picturesque towns such as Saint-Raphael, Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. The man decided to visit an exhibition in Nice, where he was disappointed by the unfinished state of the displays and the prohibition on selling the exhibited food items. He also attempted to take a balloon ride, but the balloon was damaged by strong winds.

The man then traveled along the coast to Monaco, Monte Carlo, and Mentone, admiring the beautiful scenery and noting the popularity of these destinations for gamblers and invalids. On his return journey to Cannes, he shared a compartment with two ladies and a man from Marseilles who insisted on telling gruesome stories about railway accidents. One of the stories, about a young man who lost his head while leaning out of a train window, caused one of the ladies to faint.