The Rival Pins (Maupassant)

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The Rival Pins
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man juggled two mistresses by assigning them different days to visit, but they discovered each other's existence through exchanged pins and eventually became friends, leaving him out.

Two young men were discussing their love lives at a café. One of them shared his story of having two mistresses at the same time. He had a long-term relationship with a married woman in Paris, whom he referred to as his "habit," and a new lover he met on the beach at Dieppe, a civil servant's wife.

The Narrator — narrator; stockbroker; smart, womanizer, unable to resist collecting mistresses.
The Habit — narrator's long-time mistress; married; calm, cunning, resourceful.
The Civil Service Lady — narrator's new mistress; married to a civil servant; bored, adventurous, clever.

He managed to juggle both relationships by assigning specific days for each woman to visit him. However, after four months of successfully maintaining both relationships, both women suddenly stopped visiting him on their assigned days. Confused and worried, he went to see each of them, only to find them calmly reading novels and claiming they were prevented from visiting him by "other things." This continued for three weeks, with no explanation from either woman.

I have told you about my intimacy, haven’t I, with the little bourgeoise I met on the beach at Dieppe?

Eventually, both women sent him letters on the same day, giving him their dismissal. He later discovered that they had found out about each other through a series of exchanged pins left in his apartment. The pins, which were unique to each woman, were used as a secret communication method between them. They eventually met and became friends, leaving him out of their lives as a lover.

Then they wrote to each other and I was done for.

Despite the end of their romantic relationships, the man continued to see both women as friends. His friend at the café suggested that he should try to rekindle the relationships by making them stick pins in the hanging again, implying that he should attempt to reignite their jealousy and competition for his affection.