The Child (Maupassant)

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The Child
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man married a young woman, but on their wedding night, he was called to the deathbed of his ex-mistress, who had given birth to his child. He brought the child home to his wife, who accepted it.

Jacques Bourdillère, a man known for his sensuality and promiscuity, fell in love with a young woman named Berthe Lannis.

Jacques Bourdillère — formerly dissipated man who falls in love and marries; caring, remorseful.
Berthe Lannis — Jacques' young wife; simple, good, and fresh; loving and accepting.

Despite his reputation, Berthe's family eventually accepted his marriage proposal. The couple decided to spend their first night together at the family home before leaving for their honeymoon the next day.

During their wedding reception, Jacques received an urgent letter from a doctor informing him that his ex-mistress, Ravet, had given birth to a child she claimed was his and was now dying.

The ex-mistress — Jacques' former lover; dying after giving birth to his child; desperate for his care.

Jacques left his bride to visit the dying woman, promising to return soon. At Ravet's bedside, she made Jacques promise to take care of their child, and he agreed.

I am going to die, dearest; promise me you will remain till the end. Oh! do not leave me now, not at the last moment!

Ravet died in his arms, and Jacques took the child home with him.

Meanwhile, Berthe and her family anxiously awaited Jacques' return. When he finally arrived, he explained the situation to his new wife. Berthe, filled with compassion, embraced the child and agreed to raise it as their own.