Mathilde was a pretty girl whose family were not very rich. She got married to a man named Loisel who worked as a clerk. She was unhappy because she felt that she should have married someone better and richer. These feelings did not go away; the walls, ugly curtains and old furniture hurt and upset her. Mathilde imagined and dreamed that there were rooms in her house full of silk, beautiful furniture and perfume. She stopped visiting her rich friend because it was too upsetting; it made her think about how little she owned.
One evening her husband came home and he was incredibly excited. He held an envelope in his hand.
“Here’s something for you,” he said.
Mathilde ripped open the envelope and found an invitation inside. They had been invited to a party. However, she was upset because she had nothing to wear to such a party. Her husband gave her four hundred francs* to buy a dress, even though he was saving it to buy a rifle.
The day of the party got closer but Mathilde was still worried and uneasy. She told her husband that she needed jewels to wear with her dress. Only then could she look the same as other rich women at the party.
Her husband told Mathilde to borrow some jewels from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. She visited the lady and after trying on lots of jewellery, she found a beautiful diamond necklace.
The day of the party arrived and Mathilde was one of the prettiest women there. The men showed a lot of interest in her. She left the party at four o’clock in the morning. Her husband put some clothes over her shoulder to stop her from getting cold but she was embarrassed by how cheap they were.
When they got home, Mathilde looked at herself in the mirror and realised that the necklace had gone!
“What’s the matter with you?” her husband asked.
“I…I…I have lost Madame Forestier’s necklace!” she said. They talked about where the necklace could have been dropped or lost. Mathilde’s husband went to the police station and even offered a reward. He tried everything to get the necklace back. Mathilde was miserable. When her husband returned, he said that she had to write to Madame Forestier and tell her that her necklace had broken and they were waiting for it to be fixed. This would give them more time to look for the necklace.
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By the end of the week, Mathilde and her husband had lost all hope of finding the necklace. They had to buy a new one. They went to many jewellery shops and finally found a necklace that looked like Madame Forestier’s. The jeweller said that they could have it for thirty-six thousand francs. Mathilde’s husband borrowed the money from many people to pay for the necklace. Madame Forestier did not notice that the necklace was different when Mathilde went to return it to her.
Mathilde and Loisel spent the next ten years paying the money back. Mathilde’s life became very difficult and her husband had to have two jobs to gather the money that was needed. They got rid of their servant and Mathilde had to do all of the difficult jobs around the house. She looked very old and tired.
One Sunday, Mathilde went for a walk. She saw Madame Forestier and said hello to her. Madame Forestier did not recognise her at first because she had changed so much. Mathilde told her that the reason she looked so old and worn was because she had spent the last ten years gathering money to pay for Madame Forestier’s necklace.
Madame Forestier was shocked and saddened by this. “Why, Mathilde! Why didn’t you tell me! The necklace was only a copy of the real thing. At the most, it was only worth about five hundred francs!”