Orwell and Boris get ready to pay a visit to the new Russian restaurant. Boris talks about the importance of appearance—how looking hungry is the surest way to not get hired—and then they go to the restaurant and meet the patron, who proceeds to proudly show them around the restaurant.
It’s a modest establishment, but the Patron has great expectations. He has christened it Auberge de Jehan Cottard, and he claims (falsely) that it rests on the site of an inn once patronized by Charlemagne. He decorates the walls with erotic art. Orwell thinks the patron is dishonest and incapable, but Boris, as usual, is optimistic. He’s confident that once the restaurant opens in two weeks, he’ll have a mistress and they’ll both have plenty of food and money.
The Auberge is a reflection of the patron’s own personality and values. It is a tacky, vulgar place built on lies. Like the Bolshevik newspaper scam, all signs suggest that Orwell and Boris should not count on the Auberge to change their fortunes. Orwell sees this right away, but Boris is blinded by high hopes.
Orwell spends two bad days lying in bed, depressed and hungry, convinced the Auberge de Jehan Cottard will never open. Then Boris shows up out of the blue with a loaf of bread and good news: he has a job at the Hotel X, which pays 500 francs a month. He tells the Orwell to meet him the next day at the Tuilleries. Boris will sneak him food from the hotel on his lunch break, an arrangement that continues until the dishwasher leaves Hotel X and the narrator is given the job himself.
Just when Orwell has given in to despair, good luck strikes again, first in the form of free food and then in the form of work. The food, though, is stolen, and the job is not a desirable one—and so, as usual, what seems like good luck at first turns out to be misfortune in disguise.