Mathilde Loisel was one of those pretty and charming girls born,and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. One evening her husband came home with a large envelope in his hand, an invitation card:
“The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th.”
Instead of being delighted, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring.
“Why, darling, I thought you’d be happy. You never go out, and this is a great occasion.”
She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: “And what do you suppose I am to wear at such a party?”
Her husband had not thought about it. But soon he had bright idea and exclaimed “Why don’t you go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. ”
She uttered a cry of delight. “That’s true. I never thought of it.”
Next day she went to see her friend. Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took and opened a large box. Her heart began to beat covetously. She discovered a superb diamond necklace. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. She fastened it round her neck, upon her high dress, and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself.
The day of the party arrived. She was the prettiest woman present, elegant, graceful, smiling, and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her, inquired her name, and asked to be introduced to her. She left the party about four o’clock in the morning. Arriving at home, She took off the clothes. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck. So her husband returned to the party to find the necklace but he had found nothing. His face lined and pale. “You must write to your friend,” he said, “and tell her that you’ve broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. That will give us time to work and get money to replace the necklace”
She came to know the heavy work. She washed the plates, dirty linen, the shirts and dish-cloths, and hung them out to dry on a string. Every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water, stopping on each landing to get her breath. She went to the fruiterer, to the grocer, to the butcher, a basket on her arm, haggling, insulted, fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money. While her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant’s accounts, and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page. This life lasted ten years and they had enough money to to buy and replace the necklace.
She went to meet Madame Forestier.
“You remember the diamond necklace you lent me?. Actually I lost it”
“How could you? Why, Well, you meet me to return the necklace now?”
“Yes, I bring you another necklace just like it. And for the last ten years we have been working hard for it. You realise it wasn’t easy for us; we had no money. Well, it’s paid for at last, and I’m glad indeed.”
Madame Forestier smiled in proud and innocent happiness. She deeply moved and said;
“Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was only worth at five hundred francs!”