Beside the Bed (Maupassant)

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Beside the Bed
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A husband and wife discussed their separate lives and the husband's past infidelities, leading to the wife demanding payment for her affection, turning their relationship into a transaction.

A great fire blazed in the hearth as the Comte de Sallure and his wife, the Comtesse, returned home from an evening out. The Comte expressed his dissatisfaction with the attention his wife received from a man named Monsieur Burel during the event.

Comte de Sallure — husband; initially unfaithful, later becomes infatuated with his wife again.

The Comtesse reminded her husband of his past infidelities and their agreement to live separate lives, suggesting that he was only jealous because he no longer had a mistress.

Comtesse de Sallure — wife; independent, witty, and assertive; demands payment for her affection.

The Comte admitted that he had fallen in love with his wife again and wished to rekindle their relationship. The Comtesse, however, proposed that he pay her five thousand francs for a month of her affection, just as he had paid his mistresses in the past. The Comte was initially outraged by the idea, but eventually agreed to her terms.

When a man fasts, he is hungry, and when he is hungry, he is prepared to eat things that at any other time he could not stomach.

As the Comtesse prepared for bed, she continued to tease her husband about the arrangement, insisting that he would have to pay her every month if he wanted to maintain their relationship. The Comte reluctantly agreed, realizing that he had no other choice if he wanted to be with his wife again.