Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 3
"To the Abbe Louis d'Ennemare, at Soissons.
My Dear Abbe.
"My marriage with your cousin is broken off in the most stupid way, all on account of an
idiotic trick which I almost involuntarily played my intedded. In my perplexity I turn to
you, my old school chum, for you may be able to help me out of the difficulty. If you can,
I shall be grateful to you until I die.
"You know Gilberte, or, rather, you think you know her, but do we ever understand
women? All their opinions, their ideas, their creeds, are a surprise to us. They are all full
of twists and turns, cf the unforeseen, of unintelligible arguments, of defective logic and
of obstinate ideas, which seem final, but which they alter because a little bird came and
perched on the window ledge.
"I need not tell you that your cousin is very religious, as she was brought up by the White
(or was it the Black?) Ladies at Nancy. You know that better than I do, but what you
perhaps do not know is, that she is just as excitable about other matters as she is about
religion. Her head flies away, just as a leaf is whirled away by the wind; and she is a true
woman, or, rather, girl, for she is moved or made angry in a moment, starting off at a
gallop in affection, just as she does in hatred, and returning in the same manner; and she
is pretty--as you know, and more charming than I can say--as you will never know.
"Well, we became engaged, and I adored her, as I adore her still, and she appeared to love
"One evening, I received a telegram summoning me to Cologne for a consultation, which
might be followed by a serious and difficult operation, and as I had to start the next
morning, I went to wish Gilberte good-by, and tell her why I could not dine with them on
Wednesday, but would do so on Friday, the day of my return. Ah! Beware of Fridays, for
I assure you they are unlucky!
"When I told her that I had to go to Germany, I saw that her eyes filled with tears, but
when I said I should be back very soon, she clapped her hands, and said:
"'I am very glad you are going, then! You must bring me back something; a mere trifle,
just a souvenir, but a souvenir that you have chosen for me. You must guess what I
should like best, do you hear? And then I shall see whether you have any imagination.'
"She thought for a few moments, and then added:
"'I forbid you to spend more than twenty francs on it. I want it for the intention, and for a
remembrance of your penetration, and not for its intrinsic value: