Today's Beautiful Gem: Concluding section of a short story entitled
`Necklace' by Guy de Maupassant, translated by Jonathan Sturges.

"What would have happened if she had not lost the necklace? Who
knows? who knows? How life is strange and how changeful! How
little a thing is needed for us to be lost or to be saved?

"But one Sunday, having gone to take a walk in the Champs Elysees to
refresh from the labours of the week, she suddenly perceived a woman
who was leading a child. It was Mme Forestier, still young, still
beautiful, still charming. Mme Loisel felt moved. Was she going
to speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she
was going to tell her all about it. Why not?

"She went up. "Good-day, Jeanne." The other, astonished to be
familiarly addressed by this plain goodwife, did not recognise her
at all, and stammered: "But-- madame! I do not know-- You must
have mistaken." "No, I am Mathilde Loisel." Her friend uttered a
cry. "Oh, my poor Mathilde! How you are changed!" "Yes, I have
had the days hard enough, since I have seen you, days wretched
enough-- and that because of you!" "Of me! How so?" "Do you
remember that diamond necklace which you lent me to wear at the
ministerial ball?" "Yes. Well?" "Well, I lost it." "What do you
mean? You brought it back." "I brought you back another just like
it. And for this we have been ten years paying. You can
understand that it was not easy for us, us who had nothing.
At last it is ended, and I am very glad."

"Mme Forestier had stopped. "You say that you brought a necklace of
diamonds to replace mine?" "Yes, you never noticed it then. They
were very alike." And she smiled with a joy which was proud and
naive at once. Mme Forestier, strongly moved, took her two hands.
"Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste. It was worth
at most five hundred francs!" "

Note: The French writer Maupassant is perhaps one of the best
short story tellers in the world.

Om s'aantih: Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao