It was not worth more than five hundred francs.
After Jeanne Forester had uttered those words, Mrs. Loisel felt nothing and everything. Nothing, because she was so tired of the trouble the necklace had stirred up for the past decade. Everything, because all she had done— all the washing and floor-scrubbing she had endured for a decade, all these arduous hardships she had underwent nonstop for ten years just to repay the thirty-six thousand-franc debt— was all for a fake that costed merely five hundred francs. Oh, why had she been this timid? She could’ve just gone to Jeanne and apologize instead of buying a real diamond necklace as a replica of Jeanne’s fake necklace. How stupid.
Mrs. Loisel wandered mindlessly back to her small, cramped apartment— the apartment she had moved to just to save more money to repay the debt— and wondered. Wondered what would’ve happened if she had the courage to swallow her pride and tell Jeanne she had lost the necklace. Wondered what a glorious decade she would’ve had. Who knows? Life is indeed strange and full of twists. One little thing can make all the difference.
Mrs. Loisel missed the young, pretty Matilda she had once been. The Matilda who danced happily at parties. The Matilda who fussed over dresses and jewelry, and had never worried about the upcoming debts. Ten years of work had rubbed away any trace of Matilda in Mrs. Loisel. She was no longer the playful, pretty girl anymore.
Mrs. Loisel’s self-pity turned into bitterness when the realisation dawned upon her. The realisation of her no longer being a young, pretty Matilda. The realisation of the awfulness she was now. How the pretty Matilda had been hardened into a disheveled Mrs. Loisel.
When Mr. Loisel had returned tiredly, he was concerned about his wife. She looked like a shell without any trace of emotions. But his wife refused to tell him what was in her mind. In fact, only one sentence swirled in her mind over and over again, like a broken recorder. It was not worth more than five hundred francs. The precise sentence that had made her realise that everything she had done was for nothing.
Mrs. Matilda Loisel might not be the pretty Matilda now, but she was as proud and demanding as ever. And she now desired more. More, to repay her decade worth of hardships. More, because she still hadn’t been shaped into a humble, poor Mrs. Loisel.
Oh, how she hated the rich.
The next day, Mrs. Loisel was wandering in the park mindlessly, for once in ten years free from all the heavy debts. Jeanne Forester approached her.
‘Good morning, Matilda. You said you had bought a diamond necklace for my lost glass necklace yesterday, right? I had the necklace appraised yesterday, but the jewelry appraiser told me the necklace was just glass! Did you really get me a diamond necklace?’ Jeanne asked.
Oh, no wonder the jeweler was so willing to cut four thousand francs without persuasion. The necklace itself was a fake. It might even be the same lost necklace. Matilda’s bitterness grew into rage. She stormed away, leaving a confused Jeanne Forester in the park.
That night, a jewelry shop was burnt. To be precise, the shop of the very jeweler, who sold the Loisels a thirty-six thousand-franc diamond necklace, was burnt down to melted glass.
And from that day onwards, Mrs. Matilda Loisel was never the same again. She was not the young, pretty Matilda, nor she was the humble, disheveled Mrs. Loisel. She was a bitter, revengeful Mrs. Matilda Loisel who loathed the rich.
What would’ve happened if Jeanne Forester hadn’t told her about the fake necklace? Who knows? Life is indeed strange and full of twists. One little thing can make all the difference.