In the Spring (Maupassant)

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In the Spring
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man, warned by a stranger about the dangers of falling in love during spring, becomes infatuated with a young woman on a boat trip, but the stranger prevents him from pursuing her.

One fine spring day, a man woke up to the sound of canaries singing and the sight of a clear blue sky. He decided to go out and enjoy the day, not knowing where he would end up. As he walked through the streets, he noticed the happiness in the air and the beauty of the young women he encountered.

Eventually, he found himself on the banks of the Seine and decided to take a steamboat to Suresnes. On the boat, he met a charming young woman who caught his eye.

The Young Woman — a charming Parisian working girl with light curly hair; the object of the narrator's infatuation; appears to reciprocate his feelings.

They exchanged glances and smiles, and he felt a strong desire to speak to her and express his love.

I felt an insane longing to open my arms and to carry her off somewhere, so as to whisper as to whisper the sweet music of words of love into her ears.

Before he could do so, another man approached him and warned him about the dangers of love.

The Stranger — a man who warns the narrator about the dangers of falling in love during spring; shares his own unhappy marriage experience; intervenes to prevent the narrator from pursuing the young woman.

The man shared his own story of falling in love with a woman he met on a steamboat the previous spring. They spent many happy days together, and he eventually married her. However, their marriage turned out to be miserable, as she constantly nagged him and revealed all their secrets to others.

Yes, Monsieur, I say that the French Government ought to put large public notices on the walls, with these words: 'Return of Spring. French citizens, beware of love!'

As the boat reached its destination, the young woman the man had been admiring prepared to disembark. He wanted to follow her, but the man who had warned him about love grabbed his arm and prevented him from leaving the boat. The young woman looked disappointed as the boat sailed away, while the man who had intervened felt satisfied that he had saved the protagonist from a similar fate to his own.