The Story ‘The Luncheon‘ relates about a lady who admires the author. Having won the author’s favour, she expresses her wish to meet him at an expensive restaurant. Maugham exposes the false motives of the middle class eating habits with a touch of humour.
The story narrates an event, twenty years earlier when the author was living in Paris. It was here that he had met this admirer, a lady. She had met him at a play. She had read a book written by him and had written a letter to him about her views. Another letter was posted stating her visit and a desire to have a little luncheon at a rich restaurant ‘Foyots where French senators dined. Maugham was not a rich man and had never dreamt of entering this place but could not refuse her request. He estimated the cost of the luncheon as not more than fifteen Francs; he decided to cut down coffee from his menu so that he had enough for the next two weeks. He fixed their so called ‘meeting’ on Thursday at half past twelve. The lady was middle-aged, around forty, talkative but not attractive. She ordered for expensive dishes on the menu like salmon and Caviare while the author ordered for the cheapest dish muttonchops.
After the meal she ordered for white champagne. She kept enjoying the meal and chatting about art, literature and music while William kept worrying about the bill. The bill of fare was soaring. When the waiter had come with the bill, the woman brushed him aside and ordered for Asparagus, an extremely expensive dish. The author’s heart sank and his mouth watered but he had to control his emotions. To add to his misery, she ordered for ice-cream and then coffee. While doing this, she kept announcing that ‘ she never ate anything for luncheon just a bite. William started conniving how he could feign of being pick-pocketed and how he could pay the bill.
To his utter dismay, the head-waiter walked up to the table with a large basket full of huge peaches. She demanded peaches.
The bill was finally paid. William found himself with just a few Francs for the tip and not a penny left for the entire month. The author however, had his final revenge when he met the woman after twenty years and found that she weighed one hundred and thirty six kilograms.