Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Lily Littel is a rather wilted “Lily-girl” from London, with champagne taste on a ginger-ale budget. Although her name and accent betray humble social origins, she aspires to live like the aristocracy. She lost her working-class husband, Cliff, during World War II, or perhaps simply lost interest in him, and began calling herself “Miss” Littel. She served for eight years as the paid companion of an elderly lady and received a modest bequest in the lady’s will. She now spends most of the year in a pensione on the Italian Riviera, which is all that her ginger-ale budget will allow. When her quarterly dividend arrives, however, she goes to Nice on the more fashionable French Riviera to indulge her taste for champagne—indeed any sort of alcohol—because she is a binge drinker. As the story begins, her latest check is in the mail and she looks forward to another getaway. She will pretend to lavish her time and money on a poor sister and will enjoy being missed for a few days.
Mrs. Freeport has been running the small pensione for thirteen years, perhaps to be near the cemetery where her husband is buried. Among her annual paying guests is Mrs. Garnett, a cousin’s widow, who is the oldest and wealthiest of the three characters. When Mrs. Garnett requests an Italian meal for the last night of her stay, Mrs. Freeport grudgingly sets the Christmas leftovers to one side. She even serves the wine undiluted. She orders Lily about like a serving girl,...
(The entire section is 399 words.)
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