Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 9
How many recollections of youth come to me in the soft sunlight of early spring! It was
an age when all was pleasant, cheerful, charming, intoxicating. How exquisite are the
remembrances of those old springtimes!
Do you recall, old friends and brothers, those happy years when life was nothing but a
triumph and an occasion for mirth? Do you recall the days of wanderings around Paris,
our jolly poverty, our walks in the fresh, green woods, our drinks in the wine-shops on
the banks of the Seine and our commonplace and delightful little flirtations?
I will tell you about one of these. It was twelve years ago and already appears to me so
old, so old that it seems now as if it belonged to the other end of life, before middle age,
this dreadful middle age from which I suddenly perceived the end of the journey.
I was then twenty-five. I had just come to Paris. I was in a government office, and
Sundays were to me like unusual festivals, full of exuberant happiness, although nothing
Now it is Sunday every day, but I regret the time when I had only one Sunday in the
week. How enjoyable it was! I had six francs to spend!
On this particular morning I awoke with that sense of freedom that all clerks know so
well--the sense of emancipation, of rest, of quiet and of independence.
I opened my window. The weather was charming. A blue sky full of sunlight and
swallows spread above the town.
I dressed quickly and set out, intending to spend the day in the woods breathing the air of
the green trees, for I am originally a rustic, having been brought up amid the grass and
Paris was astir and happy in the warmth and the light. The front of the houses was bathed
in sunlight, the janitress' canaries were singing in their cages and there was an air of
gaiety in the streets, in the faces of the inhabitants, lighting them up with a smile as if all
beings and all things experienced a secret satisfaction at the rising of the brilliant sun.
I walked towards the Seine to take the Swallow, which would land me at Saint-Cloud.
How I loved waiting for the boat on the wharf:
It seemed to me that I was about to set out for the ends of the world, for new and
wonderful lands. I saw the boat approaching yonder, yonder under the second bridge,
looking quite small with its plume of smoke, then growing larger and ever larger, as it
drew near, until it looked to me like a mail steamer.