Divorce (Maupassant)

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Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man married a woman with a large dowry, only to discover she had four children from previous relationships and her fortune was accumulated from their fathers.

A Parisian lawyer, Maître Bontran, who had a successful career in handling divorce cases, met with a new client, a retired notary. The client shared his story of how he married a woman with a dowry of two and a half million francs after seeing her advertisement in a newspaper. He initially thought she was an illegitimate daughter of a wealthy family, but later discovered that she had four children from four different fathers, which was the source of her fortune.

The Narrator — narrator; former notary; married a woman with a large dowry; conflicted, naive.
The Wife — narrator's wife; mother of four children from previous relationships; secretive, resourceful.

The client had followed his wife one day and saw her meeting two of her children at the train station. When confronted, she confessed to having four children in total, two boys and two girls.

She gave a great cry and fainted. When she recovered consciousness, she confessed to me, in a flood of tears, that she had four.

The client was left in a dilemma, unsure of what to do with this revelation. He sought advice from the lawyer, who suggested that he should acknowledge the children as his own. The client was left to ponder on this suggestion and decide the future of his marriage and family.