W. Somerset Maugham

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How does the writer take revenge on the lady in "The Luncheon"?

The writer takes his revenge on the lady in "The Luncheon" by observing gleefully that the lady with whom he had once had lunch now weighs 133 kilograms. At their luncheon, the lady had eaten virtually everything on the menu. This had left the struggling young writer seriously out of pocket. But now that he's caught up with her years later, he can see that she has paid the price for her greed.

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The writer is incredibly flattered by the attention of one of his readers. One gets the impression this doesn't happen very often. As he doesn't have much money, one can infer that he isn't very successful at his chosen occupation and so doesn't get many adoring letters. So when he receives a fan letter from out of the blue inviting him to lunch at a swanky restaurant, he can be forgiven for jumping at the chance.

Unfortunately, the luncheon date turns out to be a complete nightmare. The writer's lunch companion proceeds to help herself to the choicest, most expensive items on the menu, despite claiming that she never eats anything for luncheon. Nor does she drink anything with her luncheon, or so she claims. But that doesn't stop her from guzzling down some very expensive French white wine.

By the time the bill arrives, the writer is almost in a state of shock. Although he can pay it—only just—he realizes to his consternation that he has no money left over to last him for the rest of the month. One can understand, then, why the writer cannot help but suppress a frisson of satisfaction at seeing that this gluttonous lady, twenty years after their nightmare dinner date, has turned into something of a blimp. At long last, the writer has had his revenge.

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