The Unknown (Maupassant)

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The Unknown
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man became infatuated with a mysterious woman he encountered several times in Paris, but after finally meeting her and discovering a strange mark on her body, his desire turned into obsession.

A group of friends were discussing their lucky adventures and odd encounters with women. One of them, Gontran, believed that Paris was the best place to find the most beautiful women. He described how he would often walk the streets of Paris, admiring the women he saw and lamenting the fact that he would never know them more intimately.

Roger des Annettes shared a story of his own. He had encountered a mysterious and captivating woman on the streets of Paris several times over the course of a few years. Each time he saw her, he was filled with an intense desire to know her better.

God, how adorable they are! Go out into our streets on any spring morning.

One day, he finally gathered the courage to speak to her and asked if he could visit her. She agreed to come to his house instead.

Roger des Annettes — narrator; infatuated with a mysterious woman; passionate, romantic.
The Mysterious Woman — object of Roger's infatuation; possibly a Jewess; enigmatic, alluring, dark-haired.

Roger anxiously awaited her arrival, unsure of what to expect. When she arrived, they quickly became intimate, but Roger noticed a strange black stain on her back. This discovery left him unable to continue their encounter, much to the woman's annoyance. She left his house, refusing the gift he had bought for her.

There was not much point in putting me to this trouble, was there?

Despite this disappointing experience, Roger found himself hopelessly in love with the mysterious woman. He could not enjoy the company of other women without thinking of her. He encountered her twice more on the streets of Paris, but she pretended not to know him. Roger was left to wonder who she was and why she had such a powerful hold on him.