Maupassant's Short Stories Vol. 13 HTML version
As we sat chatting after dinner, a party of men, the conversation turned on women, for
lack of something else.
One of us said:
"Here's a funny thing that happened to me on, that very subject." And he told us the
One evening last winter I suddenly felt overcome by that overpowering sense of misery
and languor that takes possession of one from time to time. I was in my own apartment,
all alone, and I was convinced that if I gave in to my feelings I should have a terrible
attack of melancholia, one of those attacks that lead to suicide when they recur too often.
I put on my overcoat and went out without the slightest idea of what I was going to do.
Having gone as far as the boulevards, I began to wander along by the almost empty cafes.
It was raining, a fine rain that affects your mind as it does your clothing, not one of those
good downpours which come down in torrents, driving breathless passers-by into
doorways, but a rain without drops that deposits on your clothing an imperceptible spray
and soon covers you with a sort of iced foam that chills you through.
What should I do? I walked in one direction and then came back, looking for some place
where I could spend two hours, and discovering for the first time that there is no place of
amusement in Paris in the evening. At last I decided to go to the Folies-Bergere, that
entertaining resort for gay women.
There were very few people in the main hall. In the long horseshoe curve there were only
a few ordinary looking people, whose plebeian origin was apparent in their manners, their
clothes, the cut of their hair and beard, their hats, their complexion. It was rarely that one
saw from time to time a man whom you suspected of having washed himself thoroughly,
and his whole make-up seemed to match. As for the women, they were always the same,
those frightful women you all know, ugly, tired looking, drooping, and walking along in
their lackadaisical manner, with that air of foolish superciliousness which they assume, I
do not know why.
I thought to myself that, in truth, not one of those languid creatures, greasy rather than
fat, puffed out here and thin there, with the contour of a monk and the lower extremities
of a bow-legged snipe, was worth the louis that they would get with great difficulty after
But all at once I saw a little creature whom I thought attractive, not in her first youth, but
fresh, comical and tantalizing. I stopped her, and stupidly, without thinking, I made an
appointment with her for that night. I did not want to go back to my own home alone, all
alone; I preferred the company and the caresses of this hussy.