The Cripple (Maupassant)

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The Cripple
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man with amputated legs encountered an old acquaintance on a train, and they discussed his past engagement to a woman who married another man after his injury.

In 1882, a man settled into an empty train carriage, hoping to be left undisturbed. However, a man with a wooden leg and his manservant entered the compartment. The man with the wooden leg introduced himself as Henry Bouclair, a magistrate, and the two men realized they had met before at a social gathering.

Captain Revalière — narrator; amputee with wooden legs; former soldier; stout, moustached, decorated.
Laurent — Captain Revalière's servant; old soldier; loyal and helpful.

They recalled that Bouclair had been engaged to a woman named Mlle. de Mandal before the war. The man noticed the toys and other items on the rack above Bouclair's head and assumed he was a father. However, Bouclair corrected him, saying he was not married and had never gone through with his engagement to Mlle. de Mandal. He explained that after losing his legs in the war, he could not bear the thought of subjecting a woman to a lifetime of caring for him and his disability.

One does not marry to make a parade of generosity, sir: one marries to live every day, every hour, every minute, every second with one man.

As the train arrived at its destination, the man saw a couple and their children waiting for Bouclair. The couple turned out to be Mlle. de Mandal, now Mme. de Fleurel, and her husband. The children embraced Bouclair, and they all walked away together, with the little girl holding onto one of his crutches.