Nerves (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man and his daughter, who was once buried alive, shared their tragic story with a fellow guest at a hotel in a small village, revealing their mysterious and unsettling past.

A man and his daughter arrived at a hotel in the small Auvergne village of Châtel-Guyon, where they were to take the waters for the daughter's mysterious illness. The father had a peculiar nervous contraction in his hand, and the daughter always wore a glove on her left hand. One evening, they asked a fellow hotel guest to suggest a short walk for them, and he took them to a nearby valley.

During the walk, the father explained that his daughter suffered from unexplained nervous attacks, which were now believed to be related to her stomach.

This is the story, a quite simple one. For some time Juliette had suffered from severe heart attacks.

The Narrator — a guest at the hotel; curious and sympathetic.
The Father — tall, thin, austere; has a nervous hand contraction; protective of his daughter.
The Daughter — young woman in her mid-twenties; thin, pale, and fragile; once buried alive and now suffers from mysterious illness.

When asked if his own nervous condition was hereditary, the father revealed a shocking story. His daughter had been believed dead after a heart attack and was buried with her jewelry in the family vault. Distraught, the father returned home and was alone when the doorbell rang in the middle of the night. To his horror, he found his daughter standing at the door, covered in blood.

Just imagine, this child has been buried alive!

She explained that she had not been dead, but someone had tried to steal her rings and cut off one of her fingers, causing her to wake up. The father brought her inside and rang for his valet, who entered the room, saw the daughter, and dropped dead. It turned out that the valet had been the one who had opened the vault and mutilated the daughter, leaving her for dead.

The father and daughter continued to live with the consequences of this terrible experience, the father with his nervous contraction and the daughter with her mysterious illness. The fellow hotel guest, who had listened to their story, was left with a sense of dread and sadness for the unfortunate pair.