The necklace (2)


Original story by French author, Guy Maupassant. 
Adapted for English Language Learners

SHE was one of those beautiful girls born, as if by mistake, into a poor family. She had no hope of getting known, loved, and wedded to a man of wealth and importance. Instead she was married to a lowly clerk. Her clothes, their house, all their things were simple because they could not afford nice things. She was very unhappy. She suffered from feeling that she had a right to a better life. 

When she sat down for dinner opposite her husband she dreamed of wonderful meals, beautiful dishes, and expensive silverware. But every night they ate soup in plain bowls. What made her even more sad was that her husband was happy with their life. But she longed for rich friends, fancy parties and nights at the theater. 

      One evening her husband came home holding an envelope in his hand. "Here's something for you," he said happily. Quickly she opened the envelope and took out a card that said: “You are invited to our annual office party on the evening of January the 1st.” 

Instead of being happy, as her husband hoped, she said: “I could never go to such a party!" "Why, darling,” answered her husband, "I thought you would be happy. You never go out and this is a great occasion. I had to go to a lot of trouble to get the invitation. Every one wants one.” 

She looked at him with angry eyes, and said, "And what do you think I can wear to such a party where there will be lots of rich people?” Of course, he had not thought about that. He became even more surprised when his wife started to cry. "I don’t have a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife has beautiful clothes.” 

He was heart-broken. “Oh, Mathilde," he cried, “Tell me, what would be the cost of a nice dress?" She thought for several seconds and at last she said, "I think I could buy a nice dress for 400 francs.” His face became pale. This was exactly the amount of money he had been saving to buy a hunting gun. But finally he said, “O.K. I'll give you 400 francs.” 

The day of the party drew near and Mathilde seemed sad. Her dress was beautiful she was miserable because she did not have a necklace to wear. 

"Wear flowers,” said her husband. "For ten francs you could get two or three beautiful roses.” 

“No,” she answered. “I’ll look poor in the middle of a lot of rich women.” 

"How stupid you are!" answered her husband. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you a necklace.” 

Mathilde suddenly laughed with joy. "That's true! I never thought of it.” The next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble. Madame Forestier went to her bedroom, got her large jewelry box and brought it to Mathilde. She said: “Choose anything you want, my dear.” 

She tried on everything, looking at herself in the mirror but finally said, “Do you have any- thing better?"

Madame Forestier then found a small black box and opened it. Inside was a superb diamond necklace. Mathilde's hands shook as she put it around her neck. It was perfect. Then, feeling afraid to ask she finally said, "Could you lend me this necklace?” 

 "Yes, of course,” answered Madame Forestier. Mathilde hugged her friend and ran home happier than she had ever been.  

The day of the party arrived. Mathilde was a success. She was the prettiest woman at the party. All the men looked at her, asked her name, and wanted to meet her. She danced with everyone and ate all the elegant foods she had so long dreamed of eating. 

She and her husband left the party at four o'clock in the morning. They hurried away because Mathilde did not want anyone to see her poor coat. When they were out in the street they walked quickly because it was cold, but also so no one would see that they were walking toward the poor part of town. 

When they got home, Mathilde was again sad. The happy evening was gone so quickly. She took off her coat and looked one more time in the mirror to admire herself. Suddenly she let out a small scream. The necklace was no longer round her neck! 

She turned to her husband and cried, "I . . . I . . . I lost Madame Forestier's necklace. . . .” 

Her husband turned pale. "What! . . . Impossible!” But then, seeing that it was gone, he left the house to search for it on the street. He returned at seven but had not found it. After one week they went to a jeweler to find out how much it would cost to buy such a necklace. It was worth forty thousand francs they were told. But the jeweler said he would sell it for thirty-six thousand. They begged him not to sell it for three days. 

They hurried home to think how they would get so much money. Mathilde’s husband had eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. They would have to borrow the rest. Finally they went back to jeweller's and bought the necklace. When Mathilde took the necklace to Madame Forestier, she was not happy. She said in a cold voice, “Why did you keep it so long?” After that, their friendship was not as warm as before.

Mathilde and her husband became poorer than they ever dreamed possible. They moved to a smaller house and Mathilde took work washing clothes for rich people. Her husband took a second job and worked at night as well as during the day. This life lasted ten years. At the end of ten years they paid back their loan to the bank. Mathilde looked old now. Her clothes were even more simple and poor than before. She was never happy but sometimes she would sit and remember that evening long ago and how beautiful she was. What would her life have been like if she had never lost those jewels? 

One Sunday, as she took a walk, she saw a woman with a young girl. It was Madame Forestier, still young and beautiful, and now a happy mother. Mathilde thought, “Should I speak to her?” But then she thought, "Yes, certainly! After all, she was a good friend.” 

But when Mathilde went up to her, Madame Forestier did not recognize her. When Mathilda said who she was Madame answered,  "Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed so much!

“Yes,” answered Mathilde, "I've had some hard times and many sorrows . . . and they are all because of you!” 

“Because of me! . . . How is that? I never did anything to hurt you.” 

"You remember the diamond necklace you let me borrow for the New Year’s party? Well, I lost it.”   

"How could you? You brought it back.” 

"I brought you another one just like it. For the last ten years my husband and I have been paying for it. It wasn't easy for us; we had no money. We worked day and night to pay for it. But it's paid for at last.” 

Madame Forestier was silent and then finally said, "You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?” Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands. "Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most four hundred francs!"

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