Bombard (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man married a wealthy woman for her money and sought extramarital affairs to satisfy his desires, but his cunning wife discovered his infidelity and outsmarted him.

Simon Bombard, a tall and handsome man, was born with a talent for doing nothing and a strong desire to follow this path. He was the son of a linen-draper in Caen and suffered greatly due to his family's financial struggles. Simon often said that for ten thousand francs a year, he would become an executioner.

For ten thousand francs a year, I would become an executioner.

Simon Bombard — tall, red-whiskered, and well-dressed; lazy, cunning, and desirous of wealth and pleasure.

He went to Trouville each year for a fortnight, staying with his cousins and searching for a wealthy wife. One day, he met an Englishwoman named Kate Robertson.

Kate Robertson — Englishwoman; mature, experienced, and wealthy; strong-willed, observant, and assertive.

She was a mature, experienced, and courageous woman who seemed to be in search of someone as well. They got married, and Simon moved to Paris with his new wife, who had a fortune of fifteen thousand francs a year. At first, their life together was good, but Simon soon grew bored and sought excitement elsewhere.

Simon and Kate moved to Mantes, where he tried various pastimes, such as fishing and playing whist with the local officials. However, he still longed for the excitement of romantic conquests. He devised a plan to have his wife hire a maid who suited his tastes, a strong and rough woman named Victorine.

Victorine — maid; strong, rough, and gullible; involved in Simon's infidelity.

With the help of a friend, he managed to get Victorine hired and began a secret affair with her.

Simon would meet Victorine in the passageway of his house, under the vestibule steps, in the darkness. He only had a few minutes each time, but it was enough for him. He would slip a louis into her hand and she would return to her room. He felt triumphant, believing he had fooled his wife.

One evening, Simon spent a little longer with Victorine than usual. When he entered his bedroom, his wife was not there, and he began to worry. She soon appeared, holding a candlestick, and said she had gone to the kitchen for a glass of water. Simon was relieved, thinking she had not discovered his secret.

The next morning at breakfast, Kate handed Victorine a louis and told her that she was returning the twenty francs she had been deprived of the previous night.

Here, my girl, here are twenty francs which I deprived you of last night. I return them to you.

Both Victorine and Simon were shocked, realizing that Kate had known about their secret meetings all along.