The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

The Necklace

by Guy de Maupassant

SHE WAS ONE OF THOSE PRETTY AND CHARMING GIRLS BORN, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family. Their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land.

She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and sought after, whose homage roused every other woman’s envious longings.

When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-days-old cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: “Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?” she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken.

She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after.

She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery.

***

One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand.

“Here’s something for you,” he said.

Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words:

“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, as her-husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring:

“What do you want me to do with this?”

“Why, darling, I thought you’d be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Everyone wants one; it’s very select, and very few go to the clerks. You’ll see all the really big people there.”

She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: “And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?”

He had not thought about it; he stammered:

“Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me….”

He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth.

“What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with you?” he faltered.

But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wet cheeks:

“Nothing. Only I haven’t a dress and so I can’t go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall.”

He was heart-broken.

“Look here, Mathilde,” he persisted. :What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?”

She thought for several seconds, reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk.

At last she replied with some hesitation:

“I don’t know exactly, but I think I could do it on four hundred francs.”

He grew slightly pale, for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun, intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays.

Nevertheless he said: “Very well. I’ll give you four hundred francs. But try and get a really nice dress with the money.”

The day of the party drew near, and Madame Loisel seemed sad, uneasy and anxious. Her dress was ready, however. One evening her husband said to her:

“What’s the matter with you? You’ve been very odd for the last three days.”

“I’m utterly miserable at not having any jewels, not a single stone, to wear,” she replied. “I shall look absolutely no one. I would almost rather not go to the party.”

“Wear flowers,” he said. “They’re very smart at this time of the year. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses.”

She was not convinced.

“No . . . there’s nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women.”

“How stupid you are!” exclaimed her husband. “Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels. You know her quite well enough for that.”

She uttered a cry of delight.

“That’s true. I never thought of it.”

Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble.

Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table, took up a large box, brought it to Madame Loisel, opened it, and said:

“Choose, my dear.”

First she saw some bracelets, then a pearl necklace, then a Venetian cross in gold and gems, of exquisite workmanship. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror, hesitating, unable to make up her mind to leave them, to give them up. She kept on asking:

“Haven’t you anything else?”

“Yes. Look for yourself. I don’t know what you would like best.”

Suddenly she discovered, in a black satin case, a superb diamond necklace; her heart began to beat covetousIy. 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.

Then, with hesitation, she asked in anguish:

“Could you lend me this, just this alone?”

“Yes, of course.”

She flung herself on her friend’s breast, embraced her frenziedly, and went away with her treasure. The day of the party arrived. Madame Loisel was a success. 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. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. The Minister noticed her.

She danced madly, ecstatically, drunk with pleasure, with no thought for anything, in the triumph of her beauty, in the pride of her success, in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration, of the desires she had aroused, of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart.

She left about four o’clock in the morning. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room, in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in, modest everyday clothes, whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away, so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs.

Loisel restrained her.

“Wait a little. You’ll catch cold in the open. I’m going to fetch a cab.”

But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended-the staircase. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab; they began to look for one, shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance.

They walked down towards the Seine, desperate and shivering. At last they found on the quay one of those old night prowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark, as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight.

It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs, and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. It was the end, for her. As for him, he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten.

She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders, so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. But suddenly she uttered a cry. The necklace was no longer round her neck!

“What’s the matter with you?” asked her husband, already half undressed.

She turned towards him in the utmost distress.

“I . . . I . . . I’ve no longer got Madame Forestier’s necklace. . . .”

He started with astonishment.

“What! . . . Impossible!”

They searched in the folds of her dress, in the folds of the coat, in the pockets, everywhere. They could not find it.

“Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?” he asked.

“Yes, I touched it in the hall at the Ministry.”

“But if you had lost it in the street, we should have heard it fall.”

“Yes. Probably we should. Did you take the number of the cab?”

“No. You didn’t notice it, did you?”

“No.”

They stared at one another, dumbfounded. At last Loisel put on his clothes again.

“I’ll go over all the ground we walked,” he said, “and see if I can’t find it.”

And he went out. She remained in her evening clothes, lacking strength to get into bed, huddled on a chair, without volition or power of thought.

Her husband returned about seven. He had found nothing.

He went to the police station, to the newspapers, to offer a reward, to the cab companies, everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him.

She waited all day long, in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe.

Loisel came home at night, his face lined and pale; he had discovered nothing.

“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 look about us.”

She wrote at his dictation.

***

By the end of a week they had lost all hope.

Loisel, who had aged five years, declared:

“We must see about replacing the diamonds.”

Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. He consulted his books.

“It was not I who sold this necklace, Madame; I must have merely supplied the clasp.”

Then they went from jeweller to jeweller, searching for another necklace like the first, consulting their memories, both ill with remorse and anguish of mind.

In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. It was worth forty thousand francs. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand.

They begged the jeweller not tO sell it for three days. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs, if the first one were found before the end of February.

Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. He intended to borrow the rest.

He did borrow it, getting a thousand from one man, five hundred from another, five louis here, three louis there. He gave notes of hand, entered into ruinous agreements, did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence, risked his signature without even knowing it he could honour it, and, appalled at the agonising face of the future, at the black misery about to fall upon him, at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture, he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller’s counter thirty-six thousand francs.

When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier, the latter said to her in a chilly voice:

“You ought to have brought it back sooner; I might have needed it.”

She did not, as her friend had feared, open the case. If she had noticed the substitution, what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief?

***

Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. From the very first she played her part heroically. This fearful debt must be paid off. She would pay it. The servant was dismissed. They changed their flat; they took a garret under the roof.

She came to know the heavy work of the house, the hateful duties of the kitchen. She washed the plates, wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. She washed the 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. And, clad like a poor woman, 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.

Every month notes had to be paid off, others renewed, time gained.

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.

And this life lasted ten years.

At the end of ten years everything was paid off, everything, the usurer’s charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest.

Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become like all the other strong, hard, coarse women of poor households. Her hair was badly done, her skirts were awry, her hands were red. She spoke in a shrill voice, and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago, of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired.

What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save!

One Sunday, as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week, she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still attractive.

Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all. Why not?

She went up to her.

“Good morning, Jeanne.”

The other did not recognise her, and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman.

“But . . . Madame . . .” she stammered. “I don’t know . . . you must be making a mistake.”

“No . . . I am Mathilde Loisel.”

Her friend uttered a cry.

“Oh! . . . my poor Mathilde, how you have changed! . . .”

“Yes, I’ve had some hard times since I saw you last; and many sorrows . . . and all on your account.”

“On my account! . . . How was that?”

“You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?”

“Yes. Well?”

“Well, I lost it.”

“How could you? Why, you brought it back.”

“I brought you another one just like it. And for the last ten years we have been paying 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 had halted.

“You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?”

“Yes. You hadn’t noticed it? They were very much alike.”

And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness.

Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her two hands.

“Oh, my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! . . . “

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We are what we eat

By Lubna Abdel-Aziz


All of man’s celebrations revolve around food. Feasting among all races and religions is marked by prayers, song, dance, special rites and attires, but mainly special foods. We all know why we eat, but the what, when, where, and how, vastly differ from culture to culture. Among Muslims the Holy month of Ramadan is as much about fasting as it is about feasting. Families and friends gather round the ‘Iftar’ table to break their fast and relish their many traditional dishes from soups to desserts. Eid Al-Fitr (Lesser Bairam), follows with its specially baked goods of cakes and cookies, that help the faithful celebrate the end of the fast.

 

We celebrate with food


Among man’s basic needs, food is the one without which he cannot survive. All occasions are celebrated with good food, amidst good friends, accompanied by the sound of chatter and laughter, the spirit of joy and continuity, making it as pure and as revered as an act of prayer. Its variety of taste, flavour, texture, colour and aroma, add to our satisfaction and pleasure. Its elements of consolation, give it a place at funerals as a memorial to the dead. Even business deals only profit when accompanied by the ritual of food consumption.

Why do we eat what we eat? Food culture goes beyond what is merely consumed. It involves forms of serving, hospitality, heritage and tradition. Certain foods are preferred by different groups because our diets are determined by our geographic location. We eat what is available, convenient, and appropriate for our climate, mostly what our parents and their parents ate. If we live by the sea, fish would be our main staple, if more inland we rely on cattle and livestock, vegetables and grain. Our soil determines what we grow. Tropical areas grow a variety of fruits and vegetables all year round. Rice prefers the lowlands where the soil retains the water.

With the importance of geography declining today, preservation, transportation and tourism have led to an exchange of foods and eating habits, making all foods available to all peoples at all times. Today we can enjoy bananas from Ecuador, oranges from Spain, olives from Italy, pineapples from Hawaii, salmon from Scotland, sardines from Norway, no matter where we live. Culture also values the aesthetics of a meal. A Japanese spread is carefully arranged to make each dish beautiful, and the French spend as much time cooking as making the meal pleasing to the eye. A Swedish smorgasbord is a dazzling array of sumptuous tidbits.

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) established World Food Day in 1980, recognised by 150 nations as an international holiday. This year FAO designated October 16th, as World Food Day 2006, its theme: “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security.” World Food Day is a reminder that in this decade alone, 100 million children will die from malnutrition and other diseases caused by lack of food. The Latin motto of FAO is “Fiat Panis” (Let there be bread), and bread is indeed considered the staple of life. Bread is the one food that permeates all celebrations. Since wheat was first grown we have made dark bread, light, flat bread, leavened bread, loaves, rolls, crackers, breadsticks, pastries, pancakes, in every shape and form, long, narrow, round, wide, large, small, and circular. Bread was considered a gift of the gods by ancient peoples, and Catholics believe that during holy communion, bread is changed into the body of Christ. “Breaking bread” is an international symbol of everlasting friendship and loyalty.

Food and religion are closely associated. Christians, Muslims, and others, give thanks before starting a meal. The psychology of food taboos helps define social and religious boundaries الحدود . For the French and Chinese pig meat (pork) constitutesيشكل  fine meals, but prohibited among Muslims and Jews who consider it unclean. The origin of this prohibition is found in the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament, as well as the Holy Qur’an. The taboo arose because pigs are literally dirty animals, who wallow in mud, and eat all sorts of garbage from which they contract parasitic worms that can cause disease in humans. Hindus object violently to eating beef. One third of the world’s cows live in India, and no harm is ever inflicted upon them. Considered a symbol of fertility and motherhood, cows are sacred, and as such, protected by law. They wander freely, wear garlands during festivals, and are prayed for when sick.

Have you ever tasted horse meat? It is big in France, but is fed to dogs in Britain. You may find roast dog distasteful but, known as the ‘horseless goat,’ it is a fine delicacy in China and Korea, and was also enjoyed by Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, and Aztecs. Would you relish a menu of ants, caterpillars, locusts, raw ducks’ feet, dragonfly larvae, whale blubber, or silkworms? Yet somewhere in the world these specialties are eaten every day in Asia, Australia, Africa, North and South America.

How about raw monkey meat, fried grasshoppers, sautéed iguana, roasted elephant, broiled alligator, hearty snake soup, bear paw steak, donkey meat sausages, kangaroo tail ragout? If you think those strange foods belong to other distant far off countries, remember some of your own foods may seem strange and unappetising to others. Lamb or calf’s brain, eye of roasted lamb’s head, snails (escargot), sea-turtle soup, frogs’ legs, bull’s testicles الخصيتين , camel humps, goat meat, fish eggs, are also not relished by others.

We celebrate our diversity  التنوعand welcome learning about other cultures by sampling their foods. We may just end up loving it. Who would have thought that the world would devour raw يلتهم fish wrapped in slimy seaweed, yet Japanese sushi continues to grow in popularity.

Eat what you please, whether with wooden chopsticks, silver utensilsادوات الاكل على المائدة , or your own fingers; let your only reservation تحفظ  be the amount you eat. Gluttony الشراهة  has long been acknowledged as one of the ‘seven deadly sins’, so do heedيصغى  the warning, that excess of any food may also be harmful to your health!

We may live without friends; we may live without books;

But civilized man, cannot live without cooks!

Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803 — 1873

Through the Eyes of Women Radio

Here’s a startling statistic: at some time half of the U.S. population will suffer from anxiety, depression, or addiction! We all worry. It’s a natural part of living. A biologically built-in mechanism, worry was designed to help us. Where do we go wrong? For millions worldwide, worries are eating away at our sense of security, our feelings of well-being and ultimately downsizing our happiness while super-sizing our stress. We cannot open a newspaper, turn on television, listen to the radio, or surf the internet without witnessing chaos, catastrophes, or just plain old bad news.

K_Tristan_0275_5x7_BKathryn Tristan is a research scientist on the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.She has written or co-authored more than 250 articles in leading scientific or lay publications as diverse as PARADE Magazine and Genetic Engineering News. She has spoken and made presentations at international conferences.  She is a member of…

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The Path to Peace

Psychologist: So how do you feel now?

Me: I don’t think I feel anything any more, I think I’ve blocked it out and now I’m just so used to it that I don’t feel anything any more

Psychologist: How did it make you feel after it happened?

Me: I’m not quite sure, I don’t really remember since it was a while ago. But I think I started thinking that it was my fault, I wasn’t persistent enough when I kept telling him NO! And I think I started making myself believe that it was ok, we were seeing each other and I guess that made it OK

Psychologist: So were you angry?

Me: I don’t think I was angry, it happened and I didn’t know how to feel

Psychologist: Did you report it?

Me: No, I didn’t think much of it at the time. But a close friend of mine…

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oh ,What days there are 1 the days of creativity out of nothing

sex.religion.politics

I created a stir at a support group, a while back, by comparing poverty to cancer. What I meant was that whenever I talked about my situation, even with close friends, they looked at me funny–like I was a hopeless case, a gonner; like there was nothing they could do for me. They were embarrassed FOR me; ashamed FOR me. I was a fool who put all his eggs in one basket. They had a hard time processing the notion that someone they knew and loved, and even admired, could be so stupid.

Needless to say, I was projecting a great deal of my own self-loathing onto these people. But it’s been my experience that even good people find it difficult to weep with those who weep. The other part of that injunction–rejoice with those who rejoice–of course, is easy. But taking the time to step away…

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I like it thanks a lot

Vikki's Psychology Blog

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Along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), psychotherapy, drug therapy where necessary, Pet Therapy, and a few other disciplines mentioned in earlier posts, there are others which benefit the individual recovering from mental health difficulties.  The therapist can suggest them during stages of the recovery process to bring maximum outcomes.

Acupuncture A licensed practitioner inserts needles in various points in the body to give relief to the individual from aches brought on from mental health problems.

Exercise Fitness routines are so important for members of the general population to engage in, and particularly individuals with mental health difficulties.  Exercising allows them to look outward instead of focusing on psychological issues.  Additionally, endorphins (a group of neurotransmitters) are released throughout the body during fitness routines.  The individual is now placed in a calmer, happier frame of mind.

Massage Therapy A lower body immune system can result from lengthy mental health problems.  This…

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