"The apartment had that sinister aspect, that air of hopeless farewells, which belongs to the chambers of the dying. Medicine bottles stood about on the furniture, linen lay in the corners, pushed aside by foot or broom. The disordered chairs themselves seemed affrighted, as if they had run, in all the senses of the word. Death, the formidable, was there, hidden, waiting."
Then, the details emerge. Many years earlier, the older sister was engaged, but her true love died very suddenly just days before the wedding. The younger sister, only twelve at the time, vowed she would never marry and stay with her sister forever.
"They lived together all the days of their life, without ever being separated a single time. They went side by side, inseparably united. But Marguerite seemed always sad, oppressed, more melancholy than the elder, as though perhaps her sublime sacrifice had broken her spirit. She aged more quickly, had white hair from the age of thirty, and often suffering, seemed afflicted by some secret, gnawing trouble."
Finally, the reason behind that 'gnawing trouble' is revealed during the death-bed confession. All this in three pages! It packs quite a punch and will leave a lasting impression... which is what I have come to expect from a Guy de Maupassant story. You may read it here.
Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.