by Guy de Maupassant
(about 3000 words)
Mathilde, a pretty young woman who has always dreamed of high society, yet seems to have been cursed with a plain, lower-middle class existence. She’s unhappy with her life and feels as though she should have so much more. Wealth and jewelry and powerful company, oriental sitting rooms and expensive clothes to wear. Instead she’s married to a clerk and must dress in what she can afford, which is, so say the least, plainly. One day her husband comes home with invitations to an event at the palace of the Ministry. Of course Mathilde is delighted! This is everything she’s ever dreamed of. But what on earth with she wear? When her husband makes the sensible suggestion that she should wear her theatre going gown, poor Mathilde bursts into tears. How could he be so insensitive as to suggest she wear something old to a society ball? Doingt he sensible thing, her husband agrees to buy her a new gown. He gives her all the money that he was saving for a treat for himself and she buys herself a new dress. Of course, she’s hardly satisfied by this, and soon she’s moping again. When her husband asks again what’s the matter with her, she answers that she’s upset she’s got no jewelry to go with her new gown. Of course, they’ve got no more money to be spending on diamonds and pearls, so her husband suggests she should wear fresh flowers. The boor! Her husband finally throws up his arms at her childish behavior and tells her to go borrow some stones from her friend. This she does and soon she’s got a glittering diamond necklace and it’s off to the ball to have a grand old Cinderella time. Unfortunately for her, in all of the excitement she loses her friend’s diamond necklace. Embarrassed and completely unable to pay her friend back, Mathilde and her husband borrow, beg and make all sorts of shady back alley dealings to get the money they need to buy the replacement. Of course, all that money needs to be repaid, so off goes their modest housemaid, they sell off all their modest clothes, furniture and their house and even then Mathilde is forced to work her hands near to the bone to work up the difference. When finally their debt is repaid, Mathilde comes clean to her friend about the lost necklace. But oh, if only she’d known. That necklace she borrowed was a fake, and worth a fraction of what they paid to buy a real replacement.
Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850, in Seine-Inférieure, France. At the age of eleven, Maupassant’s mother did the unthinkable and separated from his father, and took her sons with her. It was she who instilled a love of literature in Maupassant, and he taught by her until she sent him to boarding school at the age of thirteen. There he got himself expelled in his second to last year, due to his open disgust with religion. He took up his studies elsewhere after that and proved to be a competent student of letters and theatre. He even saved a poet from drowning, so one supposes he was also an accomplished swimmer. After graduating from college he impressed himself into many a writing circle and took up jobs as a clerk and a contributing editor to several newspapers. Maupassant was an introvert and an avid traveler, and in his later years, he was all but a hermit as well. Dogged by syphilis, he tried to commit suicide by slitting his throat at the age of 42 and was committed to an asylum where he died on July 6, 1893.