Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 5
In The Spring
With the first day of spring, when the awakening earth puts on its garment of green, and
the warm, fragrant air fans our faces and fills our lungs and appears even to penetrate to
our hearts, we experience a vague, undefined longing for freedom, for happiness, a desire
to run, to wander aimlessly, to breathe in the spring. The previous winter having been
unusually severe, this spring feeling was like a form of intoxication in May, as if there
were an overabundant supply of sap.
One morning on waking I saw from my window the blue sky glowing in the sun above
the neighboring houses. The canaries hanging in the windows were singing loudly, and so
were the servants on every floor; a cheerful noise rose up from the streets, and I went out,
my spirits as bright as the day, to go--I did not exactly know where. Everybody I met
seemed to be smiling; an air of happiness appeared to pervade everything in the warm
light of returning spring. One might almost have said that a breeze of love was blowing
through the city, and the sight of the young women whom I saw in the streets in their
morning toilets, in the depths of whose eyes there lurked a hidden tenderness, and who
walked with languid grace, filled my heart with agitation.
Without knowing how or why, I found myself on the banks of the Seine. Steamboats
were starting for Suresnes, and suddenly I was seized by an unconquerable desire to take
a walk through the woods. The deck of the Mouche was covered with passengers, for the
sun in early spring draws one out of the house, in spite of themselves, and everybody
moves about, goes and comes and talks to his neighbor.
I had a girl neighbor; a little work-girl, no doubt, who possessed the true Parisian charm:
a little head, with light curly hair, which looked like a shimmer of light as it danced in the
wind, came down to her ears, and descended to the nape of her neck, where it became
such fine, light- colored clown that one could scarcely see it, but felt an irresistible desire
to shower kisses on it.
Under my persistent gaze, she turned her head toward me, and then immediately looked
down, while a slight crease at the side of her mouth, that was ready to break out into a
smile, also showed a fine, silky, pale down which the sun was gilding a little.
The calm river grew wider; the atmosphere was warm and perfectly still, but a murmur of
life seemed to fill all space.
My neighbor raised her eyes again, and this time, as I was still looking at her, she smiled
decidedly. She was charming, and in her passing glance I saw a thousand things, which I
had hitherto been ignorant of, for I perceived unknown depths, all the charm of
tenderness, all the poetry which we dream of, all the happiness which we are continually
in search of. I felt an insane longing to open my arms and to carry her off somewhere, so
as to whisper the sweet music of words of love into her ears.