She bore her part, however, with sudden heroism. That dreadful debt must be paid. She would pay it.
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They dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof. She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her dainty fingers and rosy nails on greasy pots and pans. She washed the soiled linen, the shirts and the dishcloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning and carried up the water, stopping for breath at every landing.
And dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, a basket on her arm, bargaining, meeting with impertinence, defending her miserable money, sou by sou. Her husband worked evenings, making up a tradesman's accounts, and late at night he often copied manuscript for five sous a page. At the end of ten years they had paid everything, everything, with the rates of usury and the accumulations of the compound interest. Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households--strong and hard and rough.
With frowsy hair, skirts askew and red hands, she talked loud while washing the floor with great swishes of water. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down near the window and she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so admired. What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? How strange and changeful is life! How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!
But one Sunday, having gone to take a walk in the Champs Elysees to refresh herself after the labors of the week, she suddenly perceived a woman who was leading a child. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still charming. Madame Loisel felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all about it. Why not? The other, astonished to be familiarly addressed by this plain good-wife, did not recognize her at all and stammered:.
And it has taken us ten years to pay for it. You can understand that it was not easy for us, for us who had nothing. At last it is ended, and I am very glad. Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs! The Necklace is a world famous morality tale. Readers may also enjoy another story with ironic twists, The Gift of the Magi. In the final sentence, the word "paste" means that the loaned necklace was a fake, an imitation.
Alternate translations use the word "imitation" rather than "paste. For an alternate translation read this version of the story. Return to the Guy de Maupassant Home Page, or. Read the next short story; Theodule Sabot's Confession. Henry H. The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant The Necklace is a famous short story and morality tale that is widely read in classrooms throughout the world. Get more out of the story with our The Necklace Study Guide.
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How It All Goes Down
Add The Necklace to your own personal library. For other uses, see Necklace disambiguation. La Parure , illustration of the title page of the Gil Blas , 8 October Writing Themes About Literature 7th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N. Retrieved 14 November China: A Modern History. London: I.
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Retrieved 9 July Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 23 July Colombo: Education Publication Dept. Sri Lanka. Retrieved 27 September The origin of "Paste" is rather more expressible. The Guardian. Tales of Terror! When they were in the street, they found no carriage; and they began to seek for one, hailing the coachmen whom they saw at a distance. They walked along toward the Seine, hopeless and shivering.
It took them as far as their door in Martyr street, and they went wearily up to their apartment. It was all over for her. And on his part, he remembered that he would have to be at the office by ten o'clock. She removed the wraps from her shoulders before the glass, for a final view of herself in her glory. Suddenly she uttered a cry. Her necklace was not around her neck. And they looked in the folds of the dress, in the folds of the mantle, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it. And he went.
She remained in her evening gown, not having the force to go to bed, stretched upon a chair, without ambition or thoughts. He went to the police and to the cab offices, and put an advertisement in the newspapers, offering a reward; he did every thing that afforded them a suspicion of hope. She waited all day in a state of bewilderment before this frightful disaster. Loisel returned at evening with his face harrowed and pale; and had discovered nothing.
That will give us time to turn around. The next day they took the box which had inclosed it, to the jeweler whose name was on the inside. He consulted his books:.
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Then they went from jeweler to jeweler seeking a necklace like the other one, consulting their memories, and ill, both of them, with chagrin and anxiety. In a shop of the Palais-Royal, they found a chaplet of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they had lost. It was valued at forty thousand francs. They could get it for thirty-six thousand. They begged the jeweler not to sell it for three days. And they made an arrangement by which they might return it for thirty-four thousand francs if they found the other one before the end of February. He borrowed it, asking for a thousand francs of one, five hundred of another, five louis of this one, and three louis of that one.
He gave notes, made ruinous promises, took money of usurers and the whole race of lenders. He compromised his whole existence, in fact, risked his signature, without even knowing whether he could make it good or not, and, harassed by anxiety for the future, by the black misery which surrounded him, and by the prospect of all physical privations and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace, depositing on the merchant's counter thirty-six thousand francs.
When Mrs. Loisel took back the jewels to Mrs. Forestier, the latter said to her in a frigid tone:. She did open the jewel-box as her friend feared she would. If she should perceive the substitution, what would she think? What should she say? Would she take her for a robber? Loisel now knew the horrible life of necessity.
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She did her part, however, completely, heroically. It was necessary to pay this frightful debt. She would pay it. They sent away the maid, they changed their lodgings; they rented some rooms under a mansard roof. She learned the heavy cares of a household, the odious work of a kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her rosy nails upon the greasy pots and the bottoms of the stewpans. She washed the soiled linen, the chemises and dishcloths, which she hung on the line to dry; she took down the refuse to the street each morning and brought up the water, stopping at each landing to breathe.
And, clothed like a woman of the people, she went to the grocer's, the butcher's, and the fruiterer's, with her basket on her arm, shopping, haggling to the last sou her miserable money. At the end of ten years, they had restored all, all, with interest of the usurer, and accumulated interest besides. Loisel seemed old now.
She had become a strong, hard woman, the crude woman of the poor household.