They dismissed their servant; they changed their lodgings; they rented a garret under the roof.
She came to know what heavy housework meant and the odious cares of the kitchen. She washed the dishes, using her dainty fingers and rosy nails on greasy pots and pans. She washed the soiled linen, the shirts and the dishcloths, which she dried upon a line; she carried the slops down to the street every morning and carried up the water, stopping for breath at every landing. And dressed like a woman of the people, she went to the fruiterer, the grocer, the butcher, a basket on her arm, bargaining, meeting with impertinence, defending her miserable money, sou by sou. Every month they had to meet some notes, renew others, obtain more time.
＊soiled linen 脏的布料（需要洗的各种布料）
Her husband worked evenings, making up a tradesman’s accounts, and late at night he often copied manuscript for five sous a page.
This life lasted ten years.
At the end of ten years they had paid everything, everything, with the rates of usury and the accumulations of the compound interest. Madame Loisel looked old now. She had become the woman of impoverished households—strong and hard and rough. With frowsy hair, skirts askew and red hands, she talked loud while washing the floor with great swishes of water. But sometimes, when her husband was at the office, she sat down near the window and she thought of that gay evening of long ago, of that ball where she had been so beautiful and so admired.
＊compound interest [金融] 复利
What would have happened if she had not lost that necklace? Who knows? who knows? How strange and changeful is life! How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!
But one Sunday, having gone to take a walk in the Champs Elysees to refresh herself after the labors of the week, she suddenly perceived a woman who was leading a child. It was Madame Forestier, still young, still beautiful, still charming.
＊changeful adj. 易变的；富于变化的
＊How small a thing is needed to make or ruin us!
句型How ＋形容词 / 副词＋主语＋谓语！
例句： How fast he runs! 他跑得多快啊！
Madame Loisel felt moved. Should she speak to her? Yes, certainly. And now that she had paid, she would tell her all about it. Why not?
She went up. “Good-day, Jeanne.”
The other, astonished to be familiarly addressed by this plain good-wife, did not recognize 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 a pretty hard life, since I saw you last, and great poverty—and that because of you!”
“Of me! How so?”
＊How so 为何如此？
“Do you remember that diamond necklace 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 exactly like it. And it has taken us ten years to pay for it. You can understand that it was not easy for us, for us who had nothing. At last it is ended, and I am very glad.”
＊it has taken us ten years to pay for it 花了我们十年才付清
it takes sb +一段时间+to do 花费某人多少时间做某事
例句：it took me a week to finish the work. 我花了一周才做完工作。
Madame Forestier had stopped.
“You say that you bought a necklace of diamonds to replace mine?”
“Yes. You never noticed it, then! They were very similar.” And she smiled with a joy that was at once proud and ingenuous. Madame Forestier, deeply moved, took her hands. “Oh, my poor Mathilde! Why, my necklace was paste! It was worth at most only five hundred francs!”
＊at most 至多