Happiness (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman abandoned her wealthy life and family to live with her soldier lover in a remote Corsican valley, finding complete happiness in their simple life together.

A group of friends gathered at a villa overlooking the sea, discussing love and its various aspects. As they spoke, they noticed a huge, grey, shapeless mass rising from the sea. Someone identified it as Corsica, visible only under exceptional atmospheric conditions. An old gentleman among them shared a story of his visit to Corsica five years ago, where he encountered a perfect instance of faithful and happy love.

During his journey, the old gentleman came across a small house in a narrow valley. An old woman and her deaf husband lived there. The woman spoke perfect French and revealed that they were not Corsicans but had lived there for fifty years. The old gentleman was struck by the thought of spending fifty years in such a desolate place.

The Narrator — narrator; traveler exploring Corsica.
Suzanne de Sirmont — elderly woman; Henri de Sirmont's sister; left her aristocratic life to live with her soldier lover; deeply in love and happy.
The Soldier — elderly man; deaf; Suzanne's lover; former noncommissioned officer in the hussar regiment.

The woman asked the old gentleman about his hometown, Nancy, and the people there. When he mentioned the Sainte-Allaize family, the woman became excited and revealed that she was Suzanne de Sirmont, the sister of Henri de Sirmont.

Yes, Henri de Sirmont. I know him well. He is my brother.

The old gentleman remembered the scandal that had occurred when Suzanne, a wealthy young woman, had run off with a noncommissioned officer in her father's regiment. No one had heard from them since, and they were presumed dead.

Suzanne confirmed that the deaf man was her husband and that she had been very happy with him. She had given up her luxurious life to live a simple existence with him, and she had no regrets.

Oh, yes, very happy. He has made me very happy. I have never had any regrets.

The old gentleman spent the night at their house, marveling at the power of love and the happiness Suzanne had found in her simple life.

The old gentleman finished his story, and the group of friends discussed it. One woman thought Suzanne's ideal was too easy and her demands on life too simple, while another woman said it didn't matter, as she was happy.

What does it matter? She was happy.

As the night went on, Corsica disappeared into the darkness, taking with it the story of the two humble lovers.