For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Moslem Wife”

Mavis Gallant


That very spring, perhaps because of the doctor's words, the hotel did get some maharaja trade—three little sisters with ebony curls, men's eyebrows, large heads, and delicate hands and feet. They had four rooms, one for their governess, who was Dutch, had a perfect triangle of a nose and said “whom” for “who,” pronouncing it “whum.” The girls were to learn French, tennis, and swimming. The chauffeur arrived with a hairdresser, who cut their long hair; it lay on the governess's carpet, enough to fill a large pillow. Their toe- and fingernails were filed to points and looked like a kitten's teeth. They came smiling down the marble staircase, carrying new tennis racquets, wearing blue linen skirts and navy blazers. Mrs. Blackley glanced up from the bridge game as they went by the cardroom. She had been one of those opposed to their having lessons at the English Lawn Tennis Club, for reasons that were, to her, perfectly evident.

She said, loudly, “They'll have to be in white.”

“End whayt, pray?” cried the governess, pointing her triangle nose. 

“They can't go on the courts except in white. It is a private club. Entirely white.”