The Pedlar (Maupassant)

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The Pedlar
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man met a pedlar on a lonely road at night and accompanied him home, where they discovered the pedlar's wife had been hiding a lover in their bedroom.

One summer, while wandering along a road in Savoy, a man encountered a pedlar carrying a heavy load. They struck up a conversation and decided to walk together for safety. The pedlar shared his life story, mentioning his wife, Bluette, who ran a shop in Asnières. He also mentioned that he had been married for fifteen months and suspected that his wife might be pregnant.

The Narrator — narrator; young man who enjoys boating and walking at night; curious, adventurous.
The Pedlar — traveling salesman; married; friendly, talkative, and fearful of being attacked at night.
Bluette (Pauline) — The Pedlar's wife; shopkeeper; secretive, possibly unfaithful.

As they approached Asnières, the pedlar insisted that the man join him for a drink at his home. The man hesitated but eventually agreed. Upon reaching the pedlar's home, they found Bluette's door locked. The pedlar called out to her, but she did not respond. He then left to fetch some wine from the cellar.

As I dream idly of the past while roaming aimlessly about the country, my head in the clouds, little forgotten things, grave and gay, flash constantly through my mind.

While the pedlar was gone, the man heard suspicious noises coming from Bluette's room. Fearing a trap, he prepared to defend himself. However, instead of an attacker, a well-dressed man with bare feet emerged from the room and quickly fled the scene.

When the pedlar returned with the wine, he noticed that his wife's door was still locked and became angry. He called out to her again, and this time she responded, claiming to have been asleep. The pedlar demanded that she open the door, but she refused, saying she did not want to be disturbed by him and his friend.

I have found a good little wife. She will be surprised when she sees me back tonight.

The man left the pedlar's home, realizing that he had unwittingly become an accomplice in the other man's escape. As he continued on his journey, he reflected on the eternal drama of betrayal and jealousy that he had just witnessed.