Regret (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: An elderly man realized he missed an opportunity for love and happiness in his youth, leading him to feel deep regret and sadness as he reflected on his unfulfilled life.

Monsieur Saval, a 62-year-old bachelor, was feeling lonely and regretful about his life. He had never married or experienced love, and he spent his days in a monotonous routine.

Monsieur Saval — narrator; 62-year-old bachelor; indifferent, lonely, and regretful.

He remembered his old friend, Madame Sandres, the wife of his college friend, whom he had secretly loved for years.

Madame Sandres — wife of Saval's old friend; 58 years old; happy, frank, and once charming.

He wondered if she had ever noticed his feelings for her and what might have happened if he had confessed his love.

One day, Saval decided to visit Madame Sandres and ask her about the past. He found her in her home, making preserves, and asked her if she had known about his feelings for her. She laughed and admitted that she had known all along. Saval then asked her what would have happened if he had been more forward with his feelings, particularly on a day when they had gone for a walk together while her husband slept.

I would have yielded, my friend.

Madame Sandres, still laughing, told Saval that she would have given in to his advances if he had made them. This revelation devastated Saval, who realized that he had missed his chance at happiness because of his own inaction.

How sad it is to die alone, all alone, without anyone who is devoted to you!

He left Madame Sandres' house and walked for hours in the rain, eventually finding himself at the spot where they had once shared a picnic. Overwhelmed with regret, he sat down under the bare trees and wept.