The Legacy (Maupassant)

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The Legacy
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A couple was surprised when a close friend left his entire estate to the wife, leading the husband to suspect an affair. They decided to split the inheritance to avoid gossip.

Monsieur and Madame Serbois were having lunch together, both looking gloomy and preoccupied. Monsieur Serbois expressed his surprise that their close friend, Vaudrec, had not left them anything in his will. Madame Serbois suggested they visit the notary to see if there was a will. At the notary's office, they discovered that Vaudrec had indeed left his entire estate to Madame Serbois, which amounted to a million francs. The notary informed them that Madame Serbois could not accept the legacy without her husband's consent.

Monsieur Serbois — tall, broad man with side-whiskers; statesman or businessman; preoccupied, suspicious.
Madame Serbois — little blonde with rosy skin and blue eyes; gentle manner; calm, nonchalant.

Monsieur Serbois accused his wife of being Vaudrec's mistress, but she denied it, explaining that Vaudrec had simply chosen to leave his estate to her as a gesture of friendship.

You were Vaudrec’s mistress.

Vaudrec loved me, I think, but he was never my lover.

They debated whether to accept the legacy, fearing it would ruin their reputations. Monsieur Serbois proposed that they divide the legacy equally between them, believing this would prevent gossip and make the situation more acceptable.

Madame Serbois agreed to the arrangement, and Monsieur Serbois went back to the notary to discuss the matter. He explained that they would divide the legacy to avoid any potential scandal and to honor their friend's intentions.

I’ll go back alone to Maître Lemaneur and consult him and explain.

The notary agreed to the arrangement, and Monsieur Serbois returned home to inform his wife.

Upon his return, he kissed his wife and told her the good news. However, after he left the room, Madame Serbois began to weep, revealing her true emotions about the situation.