The Lock (Maupassant)

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The Lock
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A young man recounted his first romantic encounter with a woman of society, which ended in an embarrassing situation when the landlord and others unexpectedly entered the room.

A group of four old bachelors gathered for a dinner they had been hosting for twenty years, called "The Celibate." They had sworn to turn aside every woman they could from the right path, especially their friends' wives. They professed a profound contempt for women, but lived only for them, directing all their efforts and desires toward them. As they drank champagne, they began to share stories of their past love affairs.

One of the men decided to share the story of his first encounter with a woman of the world. She was a friend of his mother, and he had no intention of seducing her.

The Narrator — young man; inexperienced in love; nervous and naive.
The Woman — friend of narrator's mother; charming, passionate, and conflicted.

However, she took his hand and placed it on her chest, making him feel her heartbeat.

Just feel how my heart beats!

He was confused and left her house, but soon found himself dreaming of her and wanting to see her again.

The man took a room in Paris, and the woman came to visit him. He had no fire in the room because the chimney smoked, but she didn't seem to care. She expressed her love for him and they began to make love. However, she was ashamed to be seen in the light, so he closed the shutters and curtains, plunging the room into darkness.

As they lay together, the man heard someone calling for help and felt a blow. He opened his eyes to see the setting sun shining through the open door, illuminating the room and his companion. His landlord, the concierge, and a chimney-sweep stood in the doorway, staring at them. The man was furious and demanded to know why they were in his room. The landlord explained that they had come to fix the chimney and had been told he was out. They apologized and left the room.

I beg your pardon, Monsieur; if I had known, I should not have disturbed you; I should not have come.

From that day on, the man never drew the curtains but always made sure to lock the door first.