The Greenhouse (Maupassant)

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The Greenhouse
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A discontented wife constantly harassed her husband until he discovered her maid's secret rendezvous in their greenhouse, which led to the couple's reconciliation and renewed affection.

M. and Mme. Lerebour were a married couple who lived in a beautiful country home near Mantes. M. Lerebour was a jovial man, while his wife, Palmyre, was thin, wilful, and always discontented.

Gustave Lerebour — husband; short, fat, and jovial; good-humored, patient, and caring.
Palmyre Lerebour — wife; thin, wilful, and discontented; irritable, harsh, and passionate.

For some years, Palmyre had been treating her husband unkindly, constantly making harsh remarks and insulting him without any apparent reason. Despite his efforts to discover the cause of her bitterness, she refused to reveal it.

Look here, dear, do tell me what grievance you have against me. I can feel you are concealing something.

One night, Palmyre woke her husband, claiming to have heard a noise in the house. Although he initially dismissed her fears, he eventually saw a white shadow hurrying across a path outside their window. Grabbing his revolver, M. Lerebour went to investigate, leaving his terrified wife behind. When he returned, he revealed that the noise had been their maid, Céleste, meeting someone in the greenhouse.

Céleste — maid; involved in a secret rendezvous in the greenhouse.

Palmyre was furious that such a thing had happened in her home, but her husband found the situation amusing.

If you knew! Oh! if you knew!

The next morning, the couple seemed to have reconciled, and they were found chatting happily in bed. From that day on, Palmyre's bad temper disappeared, and the couple would often sneak out to the greenhouse at night, huddled together as if watching something fascinating inside. They even raised Céleste's wages, and M. Lerebour began to lose weight.