Short summary - Mademoiselle Perle
Guy de Maupassant
Epiphany Eve every year I spend my old friend Chantal. My father was also his closest friend. The Shantali live in a house with a small garden, like in a province. They don't know Paris. However, from time to time they travel to new quarters of Paris to stock up on provisions.
Mr. Chantal is a very educated, simple-minded, warm-hearted man. Above all, he valued peace, rest, silence.
This year, as always, I dined at Chantal's on the eve of the Epiphany. For sweets, a baptismal cake was served, in which a bean was baked. Whoever came across a piece of bean pie was proclaimed king and called the name of the queen. Invariably it was Mr. and Mrs. Chantal. But that evening I got a piece of pie with a porcelain doll the size of a bean.
I named Mademoiselle Pearl the Queen. She lived with the Chantal family, but why and on whose rights I did not know. She was about forty years old. Mademoiselle Pearl, undoubtedly, was a hundred times better, more subtle, nobler, more stately than Madame Chantal. I perfectly saw that in this house she is very much loved.
After dinner, Chantal was smoking a traditional cigar in the billiard room. There, at my request, he told the story of Mademoiselle Pearl.
They then lived on the outskirts, in a house on a hill that towered over the vast expanses. There was a gate in the garden, to which a large bell was suspended: the peasants brought provisions directly there.
Forty-one years ago, on Epiphany Christmas Eve, they gathered to celebrate Epiphany. Suddenly they heard the howl of a dog and the ringing of a bell. The men with guns went to look for the howling dog. They found her. It was a large black shepherd dog, tied to the wheel of a small cart, wrapped in several woolen blankets. A child slept in a stroller. They returned home with the child. The dog was untied, and she went with us.
At home, the sleeping child was pulled out of the stroller. It turned out that this is a girl who was about a month and a half. Ten thousand francs were found in the swaddling clothes. Chantal put them in the bank - for her dowry. They made a variety of assumptions, but they never found out the truth. At baptism she was given the name Marie-Simone-Claire.
The girl was taken into the family and brought up. Years passed, the girl grew up. She was pretty, affectionate, obedient. The time came when Madame Chantal told her her story and very delicately instilled in her that she was not her own daughter, but an adopted one. Claire understood her position and behaved surprisingly intelligently and tactfully. Madame Chantal said that this child was a real pearl. This nickname took root, and she remained for them "Mademoiselle Pearl."
M. Chantal recalled how good she was at eighteen, kind and noble. She did not want to get married, and for some reason she was sad. They loved each other, but he married his cousin. When he finished his story, Chantal burst into tears. I sat down with Mademoiselle Pearl and told her why Chantal was sobbing. She fainted.