THE LUNCHEON, by W. Somerset Maugham

(As the waiter might have told it)

– Well, dear, I’m tired! What did you do?
– The usual things, you know, take care of the children and keep the house clean. Did you see anything interesting?
– Well, I saw a curious couple at the restaurant.
– Were they common people to have lunch there?
– Not exactly. But not the kind of customers I’m used to meeting at work. I say, the woman was a middle aged one, smartly dressed and obviously used to the place.
– Was not the man at her level?
– I don’t know. He looked like a clever fellow, because he was speaking all the time and the lady seemed very interested in everything he said, but he was wearing old fashioned clothes and looked a little worried when he saw the delicate foods on the bill of fare, for the prices, I presume.
– Was he younger or older than the woman?
– He was a young man in his twenties.
– Then he must have been afraid of finding himself short if he couldn’t afford such a luxury restaurant. Did he look like her lover?
– No, I don’t think so! He was polite and hospitable, but not effusive.
– What did they have for lunch?
– That’s the point. She had salmon, caviar, giant asparagus, an ice-cream and coffee.
– And he?
– The poor devil ate only a mutton chop and a cup of coffee. She drank champagne but he didn’t.
– Did he drink wine?
– No, he only drank water and when they were waiting for the coffee, Dubois, the head waiter, put on the table a large basket of peaches.
– Peaches?
– Yes, they’re not in season of course and they’re very expensive.
– He won’t have given you a good tip. Will he?
– Of course not! Only three francs.
– Well, dear, what would you like to have for dinner?
– I’m not hungry. Only a mutton chop…

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