Homage to Switzerland (Hemingway)

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Homage to Switzerland
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man in a train station cafe tried to persuade a waitress to go upstairs with him for money, but she refused and he left without spending much.

Inside a warm and well-lit station cafe, a man named Mr. Wheeler sat at a table while it snowed outside. The waitress informed him that the Simplon-Orient Express was an hour late, and offered him some coffee.

Mr. Wheeler — careful about money; not interested in women; cunning and manipulative.
The Waitress — speaks multiple languages; professional; resistant to Mr. Wheeler's advances.

Mr. Wheeler accepted the coffee and struck up a conversation with the waitress, asking her if she spoke other languages and offering her a drink or a cigar, both of which she declined.

Mr. Wheeler then propositioned the waitress, offering her 100 francs to go upstairs with him.

I haven't time to argue. The train comes in forty minutes. If you'll go upstairs with me I'll give you a hundred francs.

She refused and threatened to have a porter speak with him. He persisted, raising his offer to 200 francs, but she continued to refuse and walked away. Mr. Wheeler called her over again and ordered a bottle of wine, then raised his offer to 300 francs. The waitress still refused and walked away, calling him hateful.

A porter informed Mr. Wheeler that the train was arriving, and he paid for his wine and left the cafe. The waitress watched him go, thinking about how ugly and hateful he was, and how she had done what he asked for free in the past.

Three hundred francs for a thing that is nothing to do. How many times have I done that for nothing.

She also thought about how there was no time or place for them to go even if she had accepted his offer.

As Mr. Wheeler stood on the platform waiting for his train, he thought about how inexpensive his encounter with the waitress had been, only spending money on the wine and a tip. He was careful with his money and did not care for women, and he knew there was no upstairs in the station for them to go to. Mr. Wheeler never took chances.