Andre Couteaux wrote the more sophisticated Gentleman in Waiting, a quality which almost disappears altogether here except for the de Maupassant twist at the close of what is essentially a small story, actually a petit rien, with a guileless innocence. Deliberately cultivated to be sure through the young eyes of Bertrand Hautterre, whose mother abandoned his father, a biologist, and who decides at an early age that Papa needs ""another lady to play with."" Bertrand brings one home from a department store; she doesn't last; then there's an interlude with an American; and finally, after importuning a lovely young woman on the streets, he arranges the installation of Edith--although once again no marriage is possible within the canons of Papa's Catholicism as long as his mother is alive. . . . Candycoated irony in a fondant which will either melt in your mouth or stick in your craw--a question of taste and certainly one to be acquired.