One Night’s Entertainment (Maupassant)

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One Night’s Entertainment
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A sergeant-major visited his sister and brother-in-law, seeking financial help, but found their company unbearable. He went out for a night of fun, leading to an embarrassing encounter with his brother-in-law.

Sergeant-Major Varajou had received eight days' leave to visit his sister, Mme. Padoie. He was stationed at Rennes and led a wild life there, finding himself penniless and in disgrace with his family. He decided to visit his sister, not because he was fond of her, but because he needed money.

Sergeant-Major Varajou — narrator; soldier; boisterous, contemptuous, and fond of drinking and women.

Mme. Padoie was a pious and ill-tempered woman, and Varajou found her company unbearable.

Mme. Padoie — Varajou's sister; pious, ill-tempered, and disapproving of her brother's lifestyle.

One evening, Varajou decided to go out and find some entertainment in the town. He asked a waiter at a café for directions to a place where he could find women. The waiter gave him directions, and Varajou found himself at a house with a well-lit first floor. He entered and found four ladies in evening gowns, seemingly waiting for someone. He introduced himself and tried to make conversation, but the ladies seemed uninterested.

Suddenly, the door opened, and Varajou's brother-in-law, Padoie, entered the room. Varajou was overjoyed to see him and began teasing him about his secret life. He thought he had found Padoie in a compromising situation and planned to use this information to his advantage.

Padoie — Varajou's brother-in-law; tax-collector; mild-mannered, slow, and shaggy.

Swine!… swine!… swine!… swine!

However, Padoie was horrified and explained that they were in the house of President de Mortemain, a respectable figure in the town.

Realizing his mistake, Varajou was mortified and quickly left the house. His attempt to find entertainment and blackmail his brother-in-law had backfired, leaving him in an even worse situation than before.