Queen Hortense (Maupassant)

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Queen Hortense
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A stern, childless old woman, known as Queen Hortense, lived a solitary life until she fell ill and, on her deathbed, imagined a life filled with children and a loving husband.

Queen Hortense was a large, bony, and imperious old maid who lived in a small house with a tiny garden in Argenteuil. She had a multitude of domestic animals and ruled them with authority. She never allowed contradiction from anyone and had a strong will.

Queen Hortense — old maid; stern, authoritative, and independent; governed her household and animals with a strong will.

She never went to church, cared nothing for priests, and scarcely believed in God. For thirty years, she lived in her little house, never changing her way of living and only replacing her maids when they turned twenty-one years old.

She never went to church, cared nothing for the priests, scarcely believed in God, and called all religious things 'stuff for mourners.'

In the spring of 1882, Queen Hortense suddenly fell ill. The neighbors called a doctor, but she refused to see him. When a priest came to visit, she got out of bed and chased him away. After three days, her condition worsened, and her relatives were summoned. They arrived to find her in a delirious state, talking about having children and a husband.

Come here, my little Philippe, kiss your mother. You love mamma, don't you, my child?

The relatives decided to let her be and went about their day, eating and drinking in the garden.

As Queen Hortense's condition deteriorated, she began to shout and cry out, refusing to die and worrying about who would take care of her imaginary children. In her final moments, she sat up in bed, her eyes wide with fear, and then fell back, dead.

No, no, I do not wish to die! I don't want to! Who will bring up my children? Who will care for them? Who will love them?

Her relatives, who had been called into the room, remarked on how quickly it had all happened.