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The Necklace part 1

The Necklace

Part 1
Mathilde was a pretty and charming girl, born, as 
if by an error of fate, into a family of clerks. She 
had no means of becoming known, understood, loved 
or be wedded to an aristocrat; and so she let herself 
be married to a minor official at the Ministry of 
Education.

She dressed plainly, because she had never been 
able to afford anything better. She suffered endlessly, 
feeling she was entitled to all the luxuries of life. She 
suffered because of her shabby, poorly furnished 
house. All these things, that another woman of her 
class would not even have noticed, tormented her and 
made her resentful. She dreamed of a grand, palatial 
mansion, with vast rooms and inviting smaller rooms, 
perfumed for afternoon chats with close friends.
Yet, she had no rich dresses, no jewels, nothing; 
and these were the only things she loved. She 
wanted so much to charm, to be envied, to be sought 
after.
She had a rich friend, a former schoolmate at the 
convent, whom she avoided visiting, because afterwards 
she would weep with regret, despair and misery.
One evening her husband came home with an air 
of triumph, holding a large envelope in his hand. 
“Look,” he said, “here’s something for you.”
She tore open the paper and drew out a card, on 
which was printed the words:
“The Minister of Education and Mme. Georges 
Rampouneau request the pleasure of M. and Mme. 
Loisel’s company at the Ministry, on the evening of 
Monday, January 18th.”
Instead of being delighted, as her husband had 
hoped, she threw the invitation on the table resentfully, 
and muttered, “What do you want me to do with that ? 
And what do you expect me to wear if I go?”
He hadn’t thought of that. He stammered, “Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It seems very nice 
to me ...”
He stopped, stunned, distressed to see his wife 
crying ... He stuttered, “What’s the matter ? Let’s see, 
Mathilde. How much would a suitable dress cost ?” 
She thought for a moment, computing the cost, 
and also wondering what amount she could ask for 
without an immediate refusal. At last she answered 
hesitantly, “I don’t know exactly, but I think I could 
do it with four hundred francs.”
He turned a little pale, because he had been 
saving that exact amount to buy a gun for a hunting 
summer, in the country near Nanterre, with a few 
friends. However, he said, “Very well, I can give you 
four hundred francs. But try and get a really beautiful 
dress.”
The day of the party drew near, and Madame 
Loisel seemed sad, restless, anxious, though her dress 
was ready.
One evening her husband said to her, “What’s the 
matter ? You’ve been acting strange these last three 
days.”
She replied: “I’m upset that I have no jewels, not 
a single stone to wear. I would rather not go to the 
party.”
“You could wear flowers,” he said, “They are 
very fashionable at this time of year.”
She was not convinced.
The next day she went to her friend’s house and 
told her of her distress.
Madame Forestier went to her mirrored wardrobe, 
took out a large box, brought it back, opened it, and 
said to Madame Loisel:
“Choose, my dear.”
First Mathilde saw some bracelets, then a pearl 
necklace. She tried on the jewellery in the mirror. 
She kept asking, “You have nothing else ?”
“Why, yes. But I don’t know what you like.”
Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin box, a superb diamond necklace, and her heart began to beat 
with uncontrolled desire. Her hands trembled as she 
took it. She fastened it around her neck and stood 
lost in ecstasy as she looked at herself.
Then she asked anxiously, hesitating, “Would you 
lend me this, just this ?”
“Why, yes, of course.”
She threw her arms around her friend’s neck, 
rapturously, then fled with her treasure.
The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was 
a success. She was prettier than all the other women, 
elegant, gracious, smiling, and full of joy.
She danced wildly, with passion, forgetting 
everything in the triumph of her beauty and success, 
floating in a cloud of happiness. 
Mathilde and her husband left at about four 
o’clock in the morning. When they were finally in the 
street, they could not find a cab. They walked down 
toward the Seine, till they found one. They were 
dropped off at their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and 
sadly, it was all over, for her.
In front of the mirror, she took a final look at 
herself in all her glory. But suddenly she uttered a 
cry. She no longer had the necklace round her neck !
“What is the matter ?” asked her husband.
She turned towards him, panic-stricken, “I have ... 
I have ... I no longer have Madame Forestier’s 
necklace.”
He stood up, distraught, “What!... How! …That’s 
impossible !”


English workshop of The Necklace part 1

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