The Sign (Maupassant)

From Wikisum
Disclaimer: This summary was generated by AI, so it may contain errors.
The Sign
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A married woman imitated a prostitute's gesture to attract men from her window, accidentally lured a man into her home, and faced the consequences of her actions.

A woman named Marquise de Rennedon was awakened one morning by her friend, Baroness de Grangerie, who had come to visit her.

The little Marquise de Rennedon — divorced woman; curious, playful, and supportive friend.
The little Baroness de Grangerie — married woman; impulsive, naive, and distressed by her actions.

The Baroness was upset and told Marquise about a terrible incident that had happened to her the previous day. She had been sitting by her window, watching people pass by, when she noticed a woman across the street doing the same. The woman was clearly a prostitute, and the Baroness became fascinated by her ability to attract men with just a glance and a smile.

Curious to see if she could do the same, the Baroness decided to try it on a handsome young man passing by.

I said to myself: 'If I, a virtuous woman, were to make them the sign, would they understand me?' And then the mad longing took me to make them the sign.

To her surprise, the man took her gesture seriously and entered her house. Panicking, she tried to explain that it was a mistake, but the man didn't believe her and insisted on staying.

He burst out laughing and answered: 'Good afternoon, dearie. I know all about your little tale, you know. You're married, and it will be two louis instead of one.'

Fearing her husband's return, the Baroness decided to give in to the man's demands to get him to leave quickly.

After the man left, the Baroness was horrified to find that he had left her two louis as payment. She confided in Marquise, who suggested that she should have the man arrested for harassment. The Baroness was hesitant, fearing that the man would reveal the truth, but Marquise assured her that no one would believe him once she had reported him to the police. As for the money, Marquise advised her friend to use it to buy a present for her husband, as it was only fair.