In the Moonlight (Maupassant)

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In the Moonlight
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A priest, conflicted about his feelings towards women, discovered his niece's secret love affair and questioned the purpose of the beautiful night that seemed to encourage their romance.

Abbé Marignan was a tall, thin, fanatical priest who believed he understood God's intentions and designs. He despised women, seeing them as temptresses and dangerous beings.

Abbé Marignan — tall, thin, fanatical priest; despises women; struggles with understanding love.

Woman, what have I to do with thee? One would almost say that God himself was ill-pleased with that particular work of his hands.

He had a niece who lived nearby, and he wanted her to become a sister of charity. She was pretty and playful, often laughing at his sermons and hugging him tightly.

The Niece — pretty, harebrained, and teasing; enjoys life and nature; secretly in love.

One day, the sacristan's wife informed the priest that his niece had a lover. He was filled with indignation and rage, feeling betrayed by the girl he had raised. He decided to catch them in the act and set out one night with his walking stick. As he walked, he was struck by the beauty of the moonlit night and the serene atmosphere. He wondered why God had created such a beautiful night if it was meant for sleep and unconsciousness.

For whom was this sublime spectacle intended, this flood of poetry poured from heaven to earth?

As he continued walking, he saw two shadows by the river - his niece and her lover. They walked arm in arm, and the priest was overwhelmed by the sight. He felt as if he was witnessing a scene from the Bible, and he began to question if God had created such nights to celebrate the love between people. He retreated, feeling ashamed and as if he had intruded on a sacred moment.

The priest was left with a newfound understanding of love and its place in God's plan. He realized that love was not something to be feared or despised, but rather a natural and beautiful part of life that God had intended for his creations.