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Several years ago, I read a memorable short story included as an example (of what, I don't recall) in a book about writing. The story was set in a historical era of France. I believe it was translated from the French, and written in the era it depicted, although I'm not sure about either of those facts.

The plot concerned a group of poor soldiers who pool all their money to purchase one of them a night with a famous prostitute -- possessor of the "dearest charms in all France." They determine the lucky beneficiary by lottery. When he tells the lady in question his story, she declares she can be as generous as his comrades and that he will not pay a "single sou" for the privilege of her time.

The punchline is that she refunds him, not the entire amount, but just the few coins he used to buy into the lottery! I haven't been able to find or identify either this story, or the book that quoted it. Anyone have any thoughts?

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