“The Jewels”, also knows as “The False Gems” is one of Maupassant’s better known stories. I read it in Selected Short Stories, but it can be read for free at The University of Adelaide Library.
It tells of a man, Monsieur Lantin, a lowly clerk, who marries a virtuous and lovely woman who turns out to love entertainments and fake jewels. Lantin is head over heals in love with her but he does not enjoy the theatre, so he suggests she goes with a lady friend instead. Every day she seems to come back with more fake jewels. Lantin cannot understand why a woman with so much beauty and grace, “the rarest jewels”, needs to adorn herself with gaudy baubles.
She dies, he is devastated, becomes very poor and decides to sell one piece of the jewellery. It is worth thousands, much to his surprise. He becomes a rich man, and soon overcomes his sadness at the death of his wife.
It isn’t made explicit how she came by the jewels, but it is suggested by the snickering of the staff in the jeweller’s shop that she was a prostitute, or was having an affair, and that everyone knew about it except him.
It is a story about deceit, about things not being what they seem. A good story. Simple (how I like them) and entertaining (how I like them).