Henri Rene Guy De Maupassant
Part 3 out of 4
He interrupted her with an impatient gesture: "Do you know I am
getting tired of Charles? It is Charles here, Charles there, Charles
liked this, Charles liked that. Since Charles is dead, let him rest
Madeleine ascribed her husband's burst of ill humor to puerile
jealousy, but she was flattered and did not reply. On retiring,
haunted by the same thought, he asked:
"Did Charles wear a cotton nightcap to keep the draft out of his
She replied pleasantly: "No, a lace one!"
Georges shrugged his shoulders and said scornfully: "What a bird!"
From that time Georges never called Charles anything but "poor
Charles," with an accent of infinite pity. One evening as Du Roy was
smoking a cigarette at his window, toward the end of June, the heat
awoke in him a desire for fresh air. He asked:
"My little Made, would you like to go as far as the Bois?"
They took an open carriage and drove to the Avenue du Bois de
Boulogne. It was a sultry evening; a host of cabs lined the drive,
one behind another. When the carriage containing Georges and
Madeleine reached the turning which led to the fortifications, they
kissed one another and Madeleine stammered in confusion: "We are as
childish as we were at Rouen."
The road they followed was not so much frequented, a gentle breeze
rustled the leaves of the trees, the sky was studded with brilliant
stars and Georges murmured, as he pressed his wife to his breast:
"Oh, my little Made."
She said to him: "Do you remember how gloomy the forest at Canteleu
was? It seemed to me that it was full of horrible beasts and that it
was interminable, while here it is charming. One can feel the
caressing breezes, and I know that Sevres is on the other side."
He replied: "In our forests there are nothing but stags, foxes,
roebucks, and boars, with here and there a forester's house." He
paused for a moment and then asked: "Did you come here in the
evening with Charles occasionally?"
She replied: "Frequently."
He felt a desire to return home at once. Forestier's image haunted
him, however; he could think of nothing else. The carriage rolled on
toward the Arc de Triomphe and joined the stream of carriages
returning home. As Georges remained silent, his wife, who divined
his thoughts, asked in her soft voice: "Of what are you thinking?
For half an hour you have not uttered a word."
He replied with a sneer: "I am thinking of all those fools who kiss
one another, and I believe truly that there is something else to be
done in life."
She whispered: "Yes, but it is nice sometimes! It is nice when one
has nothing better to do."
Georges' thoughts were busy with the dead; he said to himself
angrily: "I am foolish to worry, to torment myself as I have done."
After remonstrating thus with himself, he felt more reconciled to
the thought of Forestier, and felt like exclaiming: "Good evening,
Madeleine, who was bored by his silence, asked: "Shall we go to
Tortoni's for ices before returning home?"
He glanced at her from his corner and thought: "She is pretty; so
much the better. Tit for tat, my comrade. But if they begin again to
annoy me with you, it will get somewhat hot at the North Pole!"
Then he replied: "Certainly, my darling," and before she had time to
think he kissed her. It seemed to Madeleine that her husband's lips
were icy. However he smiled as usual and gave her his hand to assist
her to alight at the cafe.
MADAME WALTER TAKES A HAND
On entering the office the following day, Du Roy sought Boisrenard
and told him to warn his associates not to continue the farce of
calling him Forestier, or there would be war. When Du Roy returned
an hour later, no one called him by that name. From the office he
proceeded to his home, and hearing the sound of ladies' voices in
the drawing-room, he asked the servant: "Who is here?"
"Mme. Walter and Mme. de Marelle," was the reply.
His heart pulsated violently as he opened the door. Clotilde was
seated by the fireplace; it seemed to Georges that she turned pale
on perceiving him.
Having greeted Mme. Walter and her two daughters seated like
sentinels beside her, he turned to his former mistress. She extended
her hand; he took and pressed it as if to say: "I love you still!"
She returned the pressure.
He said: "Have you been well since we last met?"
"Yes; have you, Bel-Ami?" And turning to Madeleine she added: "Will
you permit me to call him Bel-Ami?"
"Certainly, my dear; I will permit anything you wish."
A shade of irony lurked beneath those words, uttered so pleasantly.
Mme. Walter mentioned a fencing-match to be given at Jacques Rival's
apartments, the proceeds to be devoted to charities, and in which
many society ladies were going to assist. She said: "It will be very
entertaining; but I am in despair, for we have no one to escort us,
my husband having an engagement."
Du Roy offered his services at once. She accepted, saying: "My
daughters and I shall be very grateful."
He glanced at the younger of the two girls and thought: "Little
Suzanne is not at all bad, not at all."
She resembled a doll, being very small and dainty, with a well-
proportioned form, a pretty, delicate face, blue-gray eyes, a fair
skin, and curly, flaxen hair. Her elder sister, Rose, was plain--one
of those girls to whom no attention is ever paid. Her mother rose,
and turning to Georges, said: "I shall count on you next Thursday at
He replied: "Count upon me, Madame."
When the door closed upon Mme. Walter, Mme. de Marelle, in her turn,
"Au revoir, Bel-Ami."
This time she pressed his hand and he was moved by that silent
avowal. "I will go to see her to-morrow," thought he.
Left alone with his wife, she laughed, and looking into his eyes
said: "Mme. Walter has taken a fancy to you!"
He replied incredulously: "Nonsense!"
"But I know it. She spoke of you to me with great enthusiasm. She
said she would like to find two husbands like you for her daughters.
Fortunately she is not susceptible herself."
He did not understand her and repeated: "Susceptible herself?"
She replied in a tone of conviction: "Oh, Mme. Walter is
irreproachable. Her husband you know as well as I. But she is
different. Still she has suffered a great deal in having married a
Jew, though she has been true to him; she is a virtuous woman."
Du Roy was surprised: "I thought her a Jewess."
"She a Jewess! No, indeed! She is the prime mover in all the
charitable movements at the Madeleine. She was even married by a
priest. I am not sure but that M. Walter went through the form of
Georges murmured: "And--she--likes--me--"
"Yes. If you were not married I should advise you to ask for the
hand of--Suzanne--would you not prefer her to Rose?"
He replied as he twisted his mustache: "Eh! the mother is not so
Madeleine replied: "I am not afraid of her. At her age one does not
begin to make conquests--one should commence sooner."
Georges thought: "If I might have had Suzanne, ah!" Then he shrugged
his shoulders: "Bah, it is absurd; her father would not have
He determined to treat Mme. Walter very considerately in order to
retain her regard. All that evening he was haunted by recollections
of his love for Clotilde; he recalled their escapades, her kindness.
He repeated to himself: "She is indeed nice. Yes, I shall call upon
When he had lunched the following morning he repaired to Rue
Verneuil. The same maid opened the door, and with the familiarity of
an old servant she asked: "Is Monsieur well?"
He replied: "Yes, my child," and entered the drawing-room in which
some one was practising scales. It was Laurine. He expected she
would fall upon his neck. She, however, rose ceremoniously, bowed
coldly, and left the room with dignity; her manner was so much like
that of an outraged woman that he was amazed. Her mother entered. He
kissed her hand.
"How much I have thought of you," said he.
"And I of you," she replied.
They seated themselves and smiled as they gazed into one another's
"My dear little Clo, I love you."
"And I love you."
"Still--still--you did not miss me."
"Yes and no. I was grieved, but when I heard your reason, I said to
myself: 'Bah, he will return to me some day.'"
"I dared not come. I did not know how I should be received. I dared
not, but I longed to come. Now, tell me what ails Laurine; she
scarcely bade me good morning and left the room with an angry air."
"I do not know, but one cannot mention you to her since your
marriage; I really believe she is jealous."
"Yes, my dear, she no longer calls you Bel-Ami, but M. Forestier
Du Roy colored, then drawing nearer the young woman, he said: "Kiss
She obeyed him.
"Where can we meet again?" he asked.
"At Rue de Constantinople."
"Ah, are the apartments not rented?"
"No, I kept them."
"Yes, I thought you would return."
His heart bounded joyfully. She loved him then with a lasting love!
He whispered: "I adore you." Then he asked: "Is your husband well?"
"Yes, very well. He has just been home for a month; he went away the
day before yesterday."
Du Roy could not suppress a smile: "How opportunely that always
She replied naively: "Yes, it happens opportunely, but he is not in
the way when he is here; is he?"
"That is true; he is a charming man!"
"How do you like your new life?"
"Tolerably; my wife is a comrade, an associate, nothing more; as for
"I understand; but she is good."
"Yes, she does not trouble me."
He drew near Clotilde and murmured: "When shall we meet again?"
"To-morrow, if you will."
"Yes, to-morrow at two o'clock."
He rose to take his leave somewhat embarrassed.
"You know I intend to take back the rooms on Rue de Constantinople
myself. I wish to; it is not necessary for you to pay for them."
She kissed his hands, saying: "You may do as you like. I am
satisfied to have kept them until we met again." And Du Roy took his
leave very well satisfied.
When Thursday came, he asked Madeleine: "Are going to the fencing-
match at Rival's?"
"No, I do not care about it. I will go to the chamber of deputies."
Georges called for Mme. Walter in an open carriage, for the weather
was delightful. He was surprised to find her looking so handsome and
so young. Never had she appeared so fresh. Her daughter, Suzanne,
was dressed in pink; her sister looked like her governess. At
Rival's door was a long line of carriages. Du Roy offered his arm to
Mme. Walter and they entered.
The entertainment was for the benefit of the orphans of the Sixth
Ward under the patronage of all the wiles of the senators and
deputies who were connected with "La Vie Francaise."
Jacques Rival received the arrivals at the entrance to his
apartments, then he pointed to a small staircase which led to the
cellar in which were his shooting-gallery and fencing-room, saying:
"Downstairs, ladies, downstairs. The match will take place in the
Pressing Du Roy's hand, he said: "Good evening, Bel-Ami."
Du Roy was surprised: "Who told you about that name?"
Rival replied: "Mme. Walter, who thinks it very pretty."
Mme. Walter blushed.
"Yes, I confess that if I knew you better, I should do as little
Laurine, and I should call you Bel-Ami, too. It suits you
Du Roy laughed. "I beg you to do so, Madame."
She cast down her eyes. "No, we are not well enough acquainted."
He murmured: "Permit me to hope that we shall become so."
"Well, we shall see," said she.
They descended the stairs and entered a large room, which was
lighted by Venetian lanterns and decorated with festoons of gauze.
Nearly all the benches were filled with ladies, who were chatting as
if they were at a theater. Mme. Walter and her daughters reached
their seats in the front row.
Du Roy, having obtained their places for them, whispered: "I shall
be obliged to leave you; men cannot occupy the seats."
Mme. Walter replied hesitatingly: "I should like to keep you, just
the same. You could tell me the names of the participants. See, if
you stand at the end of the seat, you will not annoy anyone." She
raised her large, soft eyes to his and insisted: "Come, stay with
us--Bel-Ami--we need you!"
He replied: "I obey with pleasure, Madame!"
Suddenly Jacques Rival's voice announced: "We will begin, ladies."
Then followed the fencing-match. Du Roy retained his place beside
the ladies and gave them all the necessary information. When the
entertainment was over and all expenses were paid, two hundred and
twenty francs remained for the orphans of the Sixth Ward.
Du Roy, escorting the Walters, awaited his carriage. When seated
face to face with Mme. Walter, he met her troubled but caressing
"Egad, I believe she is affected," thought he; and he smiled as he
recognized the fact that he was really successful with the female
sex, for Mme. de Marelle, since the renewal of their relations,
seemed to love him madly.
With a light heart he returned home. Madeleine was awaiting him in
"I have some news," said she. "The affair with Morocco is becoming
complicated. France may send an expedition out there in several
months. In any case the ministry will be overthrown and Laroche will
profit by the occasion."
Du Roy, in order to draw out his wife, pretended not to believe it.
"France would not be silly enough to commence any folly with Tunis!"
She shrugged her shoulders impatiently. "I tell you she will! You do
not understand that it is a question of money--you are as simple as
Her object was to wound and irritate him, but he only smiled and
replied: "What! as simple as that stupid fellow?"
She ceased and murmured: "Oh, Georges!"
He added: "Poor devil!" in a tone of profound pity.
Madeleine turned her back upon him scornfully; after a moment of
silence, she continued: "We shall have some company Tuesday. Mme.
Laroche-Mathieu is coming here to dine with Viscountess de Percemur.
Will you invite Rival and Norbert de Varenne? I shall go to Mmes.
Walter and de Marelle to-morrow. Perhaps, too, we may have Mme.
Du Roy replied: "Very well, I will see to Rival and Norbert."
The following day he thought he would anticipate his wife's visit to
Mme. Walter and attempt to find out if she really was in love with
him. He arrived at Boulevard Malesherbes at two o'clock. He was
ushered into the salon and waited. Finally Mme. Walter appeared and
offered him her hand cordially. "What good wind blows you here?"
"No good wind, but a desire to see you. Some power has impelled me
hither, I do not know why; I have nothing to say except that I have
come; here I am! Pardon the morning call and the candor of my
He uttered those words with a smile upon his lips and a serious
accent in his voice.
In her astonishment, she stammered with a blush: "But indeed--I do
not understand--you surprise me."
He added: "It is a declaration made in jest in order not to startle
They were seated near each other. She took the matter as a jest. "Is
it a declaration--seriously?"
"Yes, for a long time I have wished to make it, but I dared not;
they say you are so austere, so rigid."
She had recovered her self-possession and replied:
"Why did you choose to-day?"
"I do not know." Then he lowered his voice: "Or rather because I
have thought only of you since yesterday."
Suddenly turning pale, she gasped: "Come, enough of this
childishness! Let us talk of something else."
But he fell upon his knees before her. She tried to rise; he
prevented her by twining his arms about her waist, and repeated in a
passionate voice: "Yes, it is true that I have loved you madly for
some time. Do not answer me. I am mad--I love you. Oh, if you knew
how I love you!"
She could utter no sound; in her agitation she repulsed him with
both hands, for she could feel his breath upon her cheek. He rose
suddenly and attempted to embrace her, but gaining her liberty for a
moment, she escaped him and ran from chair to chair. He, considering
such pursuit beneath his dignity, sank into a chair, buried his face
in his hands, and feigned to sob convulsively. Then he rose, cried:
"Adieu, adieu!" and fled.
In the hall he took his cane calmly and left the house saying:
"Cristi! I believe she loves me!"
He went at once to the telegraph office to send a message to
Clotilde, appointing a rendezvous for the next day.
On entering the house at his usual time, he said to his wife: "Well,
is everyone coming to dinner?"
She replied: "Yes, all but Mme. Walter, who is uncertain as to
whether she can come. She acted very strangely. Never mind, perhaps
she can manage it anyway."
He replied: "She will come."
He was not, however, certain and was rendered uneasy until the day
of the dinner. That morning Madeleine received a message from Mme.
Walter to this effect: "I have succeeded in arranging matters and I
shall be with you, but my husband cannot accompany me."
Du Roy thought: "I did right not to return there. She has calmed
down." Still he awaited her arrival anxiously.
She appeared very composed, somewhat reserved, and haughty. He was
very humble, very careful, and submissive. Mmes. Laroche-Mathieu and
Rissolin were accompanied by their husbands. Mme. de Marelle looked
bewitching in an odd combination of yellow and black.
At Du Roy's right sat Mme. Walter, and he spoke to her only of
serious matters with exaggerated respect. From time to time he
glanced at Clotilde.
"She is really very pretty and fresh looking," thought he. But Mme.
Walter attracted him by the difficulty of the conquest. She took her
"I will escort you," said he.
She declined his offer. He insisted: "Why do you not want me? You
wound me deeply. Do not let me feel that I am not forgiven. You see
that I am calm."
She replied: "You cannot leave your guests thus."
He smiled: "Bah! I shall be absent twenty minutes. No one will even
notice it; if you refuse me, you will break my heart."
"Very well," she whispered, "I will accept."
When they were seated in the carriage, he seized her hand, and
kissing it passionately said: "I love you, I love you. Let me tell
it to you. I will not touch you. I only wish to repeat that I love
She stammered: "After what you promised me--it is too bad--too bad."
He seemed to make a great effort, then he continued in a subdued
voice: "See, how I can control myself--and yet--let me only tell you
this--I love you--yes, let me go home with you and kneel before you
five minutes to utter those three words and gaze upon your beloved
She suffered him to take her hand and replied in broken accents:
"No, I cannot--I do not wish to. Think of what my servants, my
daughters, would say--no--no--it is impossible."
He continued: "I cannot live without seeing you; whether it be at
your house or elsewhere, I must see you for only a moment each day
that I may touch your hand, breathe the air stirred by your gown,
contemplate the outlines of your form, and see your beautiful eyes."
She listened tremblingly to the musical language of love, and made
answer: "No, it is impossible. Be silent!"
He spoke very low; he whispered in her ear, comprehending that it
was necessary to win that simple woman gradually, to persuade her to
appoint a meeting where she willed at first, and later on where he
"Listen: I must see you! I will wait at your door like a beggar. If
you do not come down, I will come to you, but I shall see you to-
She repeated: "No, do not come. I shall not receive you. Think of my
"Then tell me where I can meet you--in the street--it matters not
where--at any hour you wish--provided that I can see you. I will
greet you; I will say, I love you; and then go away."
She hesitated, almost distracted. As the coupe stopped at the door,
she whispered hastily: "I will be at La Trinite to-morrow, at half
After alighting, she said to her coachman: "Take M. du Roy home."
When he returned, his wife asked: "Where have you been?"
He replied in a low voice: "I have been to send an important
Mme. de Marelle approached him: "You must take me home, Bel-Ami; you
know that I only dine so far from home on that condition." Turning
to Madeleine, she asked: "You are not jealous?"
Mme. du Roy replied slowly: "No, not at all."
The guests departed. Clotilde, enveloped in laces, whispered to
Madeleine at the door: "Your dinner was perfect. In a short while
you will have the best political salon in Paris."
When she was alone with Georges, she said: "Oh, my darling Bel-Ami,
I love you more dearly every day."
The cab rolled on, and Georges' thoughts were with Mme. Walter.
A MEETING AND THE RESULT
The July sun shone upon the Place de la Trinite, which was almost
deserted. Du Roy drew out his watch. It was only three o'clock: he
was half an hour too early. He laughed as he thought of the place of
meeting. He entered the sacred edifice of La Trinite; the coolness
within was refreshing. Here and there an old woman kneeled at
prayer, her face in her hands. Du Roy looked at his watch again. It
was not yet a quarter past three. He took a seat, regretting that he
could not smoke. At the end of the church near the choir; he could
hear the measured tread of a corpulent man whom he had noticed when
he entered. Suddenly the rustle of a gown made him start. It was
she. He arose and advanced quickly. She did not offer him her hand
and whispered: "I have only a few minutes. You must kneel near me
that no one will notice us."
She proceeded to a side aisle after saluting the Host on the High
Altar, took a footstool, and kneeled down. Georges took one beside
it and when they were in the attitude of prayer, he said: "Thank
you, thank you. I adore you. I should like to tell you constantly
how I began to love you, how I was conquered the first time I saw
you. Will you permit me some day to unburden my heart, to explain
all to you?"
She replied between her fingers: "I am mad to let you speak to me
thus--mad to have come hither--mad to do as I have done, to let you
believe that this--this adventure can have any results. Forget it,
and never speak to me of it again." She paused.
He replied: "I expect nothing--I hope nothing--I love you--whatever
you may do, I will repeat it so often, with so much force and ardor
that you will finally understand me, and reply: 'I love you too.'"
He felt her frame tremble as she involuntarily repeated: "I love you
He was overcome by astonishment.
"Oh, my God!" she continued incoherently, "Should I say that to you?
I feel guilty, despicable--I--who have two daughters--but I cannot--
cannot--I never thought--it was stronger than I--listen--listen--I
have never loved--any other--but you--I swear it--I have loved you a
year in secret--I have suffered and struggled--I can no longer; I
love you." She wept and her bowed form was shaken by the violence of
Georges murmured: "Give me your hand that I may touch, may press
She slowly took her hand from her face, he seized it saying: "I
should like to drink your tears!"
Placing the hand he held upon his heart he asked: "Do you feel it
In a few moments the man Georges had noticed before passed by them.
When Mme. Walter heard him near her, she snatched her fingers from
Georges's clasp and covered her face with them. After the man had
disappeared, Du Roy asked, hoping for another place of meeting than
La Trinite: "Where shall I see you to-morrow?"
She did not reply; she seemed transformed into a statue of prayer.
He continued: "Shall I meet you to-morrow at Park Monceau?"
She turned a livid face toward him and said unsteadily: "Leave me--
leave me now--go--go away--for only five minutes--I suffer too much
near you. I want to pray--go. Let me pray alone--five minutes--let
me ask God--to pardon me--to save me--leave me--five minutes."
She looked so pitiful that he rose without a word and asked with
some hesitation: "Shall I return presently?"
She nodded her head in the affirmative and he left her. She tried to
pray; she closed her eyes in order not to see Georges. She could not
pray; she could only think of him. She would rather have died than
have fallen thus; she had never been weak. She murmured several
words of supplication; she knew that all was over, that the struggle
was in vain. She did not however wish to yield, but she felt her
weakness. Some one approached with a rapid step; she turned her
head. It was a priest. She rose, ran toward him, and clasping her
hands, she cried: "Save me, save me!"
He stopped in surprise.
"What do you want, Madame?"
"I want you to save me. Have pity on me. If you do not help me, I am
He gazed at her, wondering if she were mad.
"What can I do for you?" The priest was a young man somewhat
inclined to corpulence.
"Receive my confession," said she, "and counsel me, sustain me, tell
me what to do."
He replied: "I confess every Saturday from three to six."
Seizing his arm she repeated: "No, now, at once--at once! It is
necessary! He is here! In this church! He is waiting for me."
The priest asked: "Who is waiting for you?"
"A man--who will be my ruin if you do not save me. I can no longer
escape him--I am too weak--too weak,"
She fell upon her knees sobbing: "Oh, father, have pity upon me.
Save me, for God's sake, save me!" She seized his gown that he might
not escape her, while he uneasily glanced around on all sides to see
if anyone noticed the woman at his feet. Finally, seeing that he
could not free himself from her, he said: "Rise; I have the key to
the confessional with me."
* * * * * * *
Du Roy having walked around the choir, was sauntering down the nave,
when he met the stout, bold man wandering about, and he wondered:
"What can he be doing here?"
The man slackened his pace and looked at Georges with the evident
desire to speak to him. When he was near him, he bowed and said
"I beg your pardon, sir, for disturbing you; but can you tell me
when this church was built?"
Du Roy replied: "I do not know; I think it is twenty or twenty-five
years. It is the first time I have been here. I have never seen it
before." Feeling interested in the stranger, the journalist
continued: "It seems to me that you are examining into it very
The man replied: "I am not visiting the church; I have an
appointment." He paused and in a few moments added: "It is very warm
Du Roy looked at him and suddenly thought that he resembled
Forestier. "Are you from the provinces?" he asked.
"Yes, I am from Rennes. And did you, sir, enter this church from
"No, I am waiting for a lady." And with a smile upon his lips, he
He did not find Mme. Walter in the place in which he had left her,
and was surprised. She had gone. He was furious. Then he thought she
might be looking for him, and he walked around the church. Not
finding her, he returned and seated himself on the chair she had
occupied, hoping that she would rejoin him there. Soon he heard the
sound of a voice. He saw no one; whence came it? He rose to examine
into it, and saw in a chapel near by, the doors of the
confessionals. He drew nearer in order to see the woman whose voice
he heard. He recognized Mme. Walter; she was confessing. At first he
felt a desire to seize her by the arm and drag her away; then he
seated himself near by and bided his time. He waited quite awhile.
At length Mme. Walter rose, turned, saw him and came toward him. Her
face was cold and severe.
"Sir," said she, "I beseech you not to accompany me, not to follow
me and not to come to my house alone. You will not be admitted.
Adieu!" And she walked away in a dignified manner.
He permitted her to go, because it was against his principles to
force matters. As the priest in his turn issued from the
confessional, he advanced toward him and said: "If you did not wear
a gown, I would give you a sound thrashing." Then he turned upon his
heel and left the church whistling. In the doorway he met the stout
gentleman. When Du Roy passed him, they bowed.
The journalist then repaired to the office of "La Vie Francaise." As
he entered he saw by the clerks' busy air that something of
importance was going on, and he hastened to the manager's room. The
latter exclaimed joyfully as Du Roy entered: "What luck! here is
He stopped in confusion and apologized: "I beg your pardon, I am
very much bothered by circumstances. And then I hear my wife and
daughter call you Bel-Ami from morning until night, and I have
acquired the habit myself. Are you displeased?"
Georges laughed. "Not at all."
M. Walter continued: "Very well, then I will call you Bel-Ami as
everyone else does. Great changes have taken place. The ministry has
been overthrown. Marrot is to form a new cabinet. He has chosen
General Boutin d'Acre as minister of war, and our friend Laroche-
Mathieu as minister of foreign affairs. We shall be very busy. I
must write a leading article, a simple declaration of principles;
then I must have something interesting on the Morocco question--you
must attend to that."
Du Roy reflected a moment and then replied: "I have it. I will give
you an article on the political situation of our African colony,"
and he proceeded to prepare M. Walter an outline of his work, which
was nothing but a modification of his first article on "Souvenirs of
a Soldier in Africa."
The manager having read the article said: "It is perfect; you are a
treasure. Many thanks."
Du Roy returned home to dinner delighted with his day,
notwithstanding his failure at La Trinite. His wife was awaiting him
anxiously. She exclaimed on seeing him:
"You know that Laroche is minister of foreign affairs."
"Yes, I have just written an article on that subject."
"Do you remember the first article we wrote on 'Souvenirs of a
Soldier in Africa'? Well, I revised and corrected it for the
She smiled. "Ah, yes, that will do very well."
At that moment the servant entered with a dispatch containing these
words without any signature:
"I was beside myself. Pardon me and come to-morrow at four o'clock
to Park Monceau."
He understood the message, and with a joyful heart, slipped the
telegram into his pocket. During dinner he repeated the words to
himself; as he interpreted them, they meant, "I yield--I am yours
where and when you will." He laughed.
Madeleine asked: "What is it?"
"Nothing much. I was thinking of a comical old priest I met a short
* * * * * * *
Du Roy arrived at the appointed hour the following day. The benches
were all occupied by people trying to escape from the heat and by
nurses with their charges.
He found Mme. Walter in a little antique ruin; she seemed unhappy
and anxious. When he had greeted her, she said: "How many people
there are in the garden!"
He took advantage of the occasion: "Yes, that is true; shall we go
"It matters not where; for a drive, for instance. You can lower the
shade on your side and you will be well concealed."
"Yes, I should like that better; I shall die of fear here."
"Very well, meet me in five minutes at the gate which opens on the
boulevard. I will fetch a cab."
When they were seated in the cab, she asked: "Where did you tell the
coachman to drive to?"
Georges replied: "Do not worry; he knows."
He had given the man his address on the Rue de Constantinople.
Mme. Walter said to Du Roy: "You cannot imagine how I suffer on your
account--how I am tormented, tortured. Yesterday I was harsh, but I
wanted to escape you at any price. I was afraid to remain alone with
you. Have you forgiven me?"
He pressed her hand. "Yes, yes, why should I not forgive you, loving
you as I do?"
She looked at him with a beseeching air: "Listen: You must promise
to respect me, otherwise I could never see you again."
At first he did not reply; a smile lurked beneath his mustache; then
he murmured: "I am your slave."
She told him how she had discovered that she loved him, on learning
that he was to marry Madeleine Forestier. Suddenly she ceased
speaking. The carriage stopped. Du Roy opened the door.
"Where are we?" she asked.
He replied: "Alight and enter the house. We shall be undisturbed
"Where are we?" she repeated.
"At my rooms; they are my bachelor apartments which I have rented
for a few days that we might have a corner in which to meet."
She clung to the cab, startled at the thought of a tete-a-tete, and
stammered: "No, no, I do not want to."
He said firmly: "I swear to respect you. Come, you see that people
are looking at us, that a crowd is gathering around us. Make haste!"
And he repeated, "I swear to respect you."
She was terror-stricken and rushed into the house. She was about to
ascend the stairs. He seized her arm: "It is here, on the ground
When he had closed the door, he showered kisses upon her neck, her
eyes, her lips; in spite of herself, she submitted to his caresses
and even returned them, hiding her face and murmuring in broken
accents: "I swear that I have never had a lover"; while he thought:
"That is a matter of indifference to me."
MADAME DE MARELLE
Autumn had come. The Du Roys had spent the entire summer in Paris,
leading a vigorous campaign in "La Vie Francaise," in favor of the
new cabinet. Although it was only the early part of October, the
chamber was about to resume its sessions, for affairs in Morocco
were becoming menacing. The celebrated speech made by Count de
Lambert Sarrazin had furnished Du Roy with material for ten articles
on the Algerian colony. "La Vie Francaise" had gained considerable
prestige by its connection with the power; it was the first to give
political news, and every newspaper in Paris and the provinces
sought information from it. It was quoted, feared, and began to be
respected: it was no longer the organ of a group of political
intriguers, but the avowed mouthpiece of the cabinet. Laroche-
Mathieu was the soul of the journal and Du Roy his speaking-trumpet.
M. Walter retired discreetly into the background. Madeleine's salon
became an influential center in which several members of the cabinet
met every week. The president of the council had even dined there
twice; the minister of foreign affairs was quite at home at the Du
Roys; he came at any hour, bringing dispatches or information, which
he dictated either to the husband or wife as if they were his
secretaries. After the minister had departed, when Du Roy was alone
with Madeleine, he uttered threats and insinuations against the
"parvenu," as he called him. His wife simply shrugged her shoulders
scornfully, repeating: "Become a minister and you can do the same;
until then, be silent."
His reply was: "No one knows of what I am capable; perhaps they will
find out some day."
She answered philosophically: "He who lives will see."
The morning of the reopening of the Chamber, Du Roy lunched with
Laroche-Mathieu in order to receive instructions from him, before
the session, for a political article the following day in "La Vie
Francaise," which was to be a sort of official declaration of the
plans of the cabinet. After listening to Laroche-Mathieu's eloquence
for some time with jealousy in his heart, Du Roy sauntered slowly
toward the office to commence his work, for he had nothing to do
until four o'clock, at which hour he was to meet Mme. de Marelle at
Rue de Constantinople. They met there regularly twice a week,
Mondays and Wednesdays.
On entering the office, he was handed a sealed dispatch; it was from
Mme. Walter, and read thus:
"It is absolutely necessary that I should see you to-day. It is
important. Expect me at two o'clock at Rue de Constantinople. I
can render you a great service; your friend until death,"
He exclaimed: "Heavens! what a bore!" and left the office at once,
too much annoyed to work.
For six weeks he had ineffectually tried to break with Mme. Walter.
At three successive meetings she had been a prey to remorse, and had
overwhelmed her lover with reproaches. Angered by those scenes and
already weary of the dramatic woman, he had simply avoided her,
hoping that the affair would end in that way.
But she persecuted him with her affection, summoned him at all times
by telegrams to meet her at street corners, in shops, or public
gardens. She was very different from what he had fancied she would
be, trying to attract him by actions ridiculous in one of her age.
It disgusted him to hear her call him: "My rat--my dog--my treasure-
-my jewel--my blue-bird"--and to see her assume a kind of childish
modesty when he approached. It seemed to him that being the mother
of a family, a woman of the world, she should have been more sedate,
and have yielded With tears if she chose, but with the tears of a
Dido and not of a Juliette. He never heard her call him "Little one"
or "Baby," without wishing to reply "Old woman," to take his hat
with an oath and leave the room.
At first they had often met at Rue de Constantinople, but Du Roy,
who feared an encounter with Mme. de Marelle, invented a thousand
and one pretexts in order to avoid that rendezvous. He was therefore
obliged to either lunch or dine at her house daily, when she would
clasp his hand under cover of the table or offer him her lips behind
the doors. Above all, Georges enjoyed being thrown so much in
contact with Suzanne; she made sport of everything and everybody
with cutting appropriateness. At length, however, he began to feel
an unconquerable repugnance to the love lavished upon him by the
mother; he could no longer see her, hear her, nor think of her
without anger. He ceased calling upon her, replying to her letters,
and yielding to her appeals. She finally divined that he no longer
loved her, and the discovery caused her unutterable anguish; but she
watched him, followed him in a cab with drawn blinds to the office,
to his house, in the hope of seeing him pass by. He would have liked
to strangle her, but he controlled himself on account of his
position on "La Vie Francaise" and he endeavored by means of
coldness, and even at times harsh words, to make her comprehend that
all was at an end between them.
Then, too, she persisted in devising ruses for summoning him to Rue
de Constantinople, and he was in constant fear that the two women
would some day meet face to face at the door.
On the other hand, his affection for Mme. de Marelle had increased
during the summer. They were both Bohemians by nature; they took
excursions together to Argenteuil, Bougival, Maisons, and Poissy,
and when he was forced to return and dine at Mme. Walter's, he
detested his mature mistress more thoroughly, as he recalled the
youthful one he had just left. He was congratulating himself upon
having freed himself almost entirely from the former's clutches,
when he received the telegram above mentioned.
He re-read it as he walked along. He thought: "What does that old
owl want with me? I am certain she has nothing to tell me except
that she adores me. However, I will see, perhaps there is some truth
in it. Clotilde is coming at four, I must get rid of the other one
at three or soon after, provided they do not meet. What jades women
As he uttered those words he was reminded of his wife, who was the
only one who did not torment him; she lived by his side and seemed
to love him very much at the proper time, for she never permitted
anything to interfere with her ordinary occupations of life. He
strolled toward the appointed place of meeting, mentally cursing
"Ah, I will receive her in such a manner that she will not tell me
anything. First of all, I will give her to understand that I shall
never cross her threshold again."
He entered to await her. She soon arrived and, seeing him,
exclaimed: "Ah, you received my dispatch! How fortunate!"
"Yes, I received it at the office just as I was setting out for the
Chamber. What do you want?" he asked ungraciously.
She had raised her veil in order to kiss him, and approached him
timidly and humbly with the air of a beaten dog.
"How unkind you are to me; how harshly you speak! What have I done
to you? You do not know what I have suffered for you!"
He muttered: "Are you going to begin that again?"
She stood near him awaiting a smile, a word of encouragement, to
cast herself into his arms, and whispered: "You need not have won me
to treat me thus; you might have left me virtuous and happy. Do you
remember what you said to me in the church and how you forced me to
enter this house? And now this is the way you speak to me, receive
me! My God, my God, how you maltreat me!"
He stamped his foot and said violently: "Enough, be silent! I can
never see you a moment without hearing that refrain. You were mature
when you gave yourself to me. I am much obliged to you; I am
infinitely grateful, but I need not be tied to your apron-strings
until I die! You have a husband and I a wife. Neither of us is free;
it was all a caprice, and now it is at an end!"
She said: "How brutal you are, how coarse and villainous! No, I was
no longer a young girl, but I had never loved, never wavered in my
He interrupted her: "I know it, you have told me that twenty times;
but you have had two children."
She drew back as if she had been struck: "Oh, Georges!" And pressing
her hands to her heart, she burst into tears.
When she began to weep, he took his hat: "Ah, you are crying again!
Good evening! Is it for this that you sent for me?"
She took a step forward in order to bar the way, and drawing a
handkerchief from her pocket she wiped her eyes. Her voice grew
steadier: "No, I came to--to give you--political news--to give you
the means of earning fifty thousand francs--or even more if you wish
Suddenly softened he asked: "How?"
"By chance last evening I heard a conversation between my husband
and Laroche. Walter advised the minister not to let you into the
secret for you would expose it."
Du Roy placed his hat upon a chair and listened attentively.
"They are going to take possession of Morocco!"
"Why, I lunched with Laroche this morning, and he told me the
"No, my dear, they have deceived you, because they feared their
secret would be made known."
"Sit down," said Georges.
He sank into an armchair, while she drew up a stool and took her
seat at his feet. She continued:
"As I think of you continually, I pay attention to what is talked of
around me," and she proceeded to tell him what she had heard
relative to the expedition to Tangiers which had been decided upon
the day that Laroche assumed his office; she told him how they had
little by little bought up, through agents who aroused no
suspicions, the Moroccan loan, which had fallen to sixty-four or
sixty-five francs; how when the expedition was entered upon the
French government would guarantee the debt, and their friends would
make fifty or sixty millions.
He cried: "Are you sure of that?"
She replied: "Yes, I am sure."
He continued: "That is indeed fine! As for that rascal of a Laroche,
let him beware! I will get his ministerial carcass between my
Then, after a moment's reflection, he muttered: "One might profit by
"You too can buy some stock," said she; "it is only seventy-two
He replied: "But I have no ready money."
She raised her eyes to his--eyes full of supplication.
"I have thought of that, my darling, and if you love me a little,
you will let me lend it to you."
He replied abruptly, almost harshly: "No, indeed."
She whispered imploringly: "Listen, there is something you can do
without borrowing money. I intended buying ten thousand francs'
worth of the stock; instead, I will take twenty thousand and you can
have half. There will be nothing to pay at once. If it succeeds, we
will make seventy thousand francs; if not, you will owe me ten
thousand which you can repay at your pleasure."
He said again: "No, I do not like those combinations."
She tried to persuade him by telling him that she advanced nothing--
that the payments were made by Walter's bank. She pointed out to him
that he had led the political campaign in "La Vie Francaise," and
that he would be very simple not to profit by the results he had
helped to bring about. As he still hesitated, she added: "It is in
reality Walter who will advance the money, and you have done enough
for him to offset that sum."
"Very well," said he, "I will do it. If we lose I will pay you back
ten thousand francs."
She was so delighted that she rose, took his head between her hands,
and kissed him. At first he did not repulse her, but when she grew
more lavish with her caresses, he said:
"Come, that will do."
She gazed at him sadly. "Oh, Georges, I can no longer even embrace
"No, not to-day. I have a headache."
She reseated herself with docility at his feet and asked:
"Will you dine with us to-morrow? It would give me such pleasure,"
He hesitated at first, but dared not refuse.
"Thank you, dearest." She rubbed her cheek against the young man's
vest; as she did so, one of her long black hairs caught on a button;
she twisted it tightly around, then she twisted another around
another button and so on. When he rose, he would tear them out of
her head, and would carry away with him unwittingly a lock of her
hair. It would be an invisible bond between them. Involuntarily he
would think, would dream of her; he would love her a little more the
Suddenly he said: "I must leave you, for I am expected at the
Chamber for the close of the session. I cannot be absent to-day."
She sighed: "Already!" Then adding resignedly: "Go, my darling, but
you will come to dinner tomorrow"; she rose abruptly. For a moment
she felt a sharp, stinging pain, as if needles had been stuck into
her head, but she was glad to have suffered for him.
"Adieu," said she.
He took her in his arms and kissed her eyes coldly; then she offered
him her lips which he brushed lightly as he said: "Come, come, let
us hurry; it is after three o'clock."
She passed out before him saying: "To-morrow at seven"; he repeated
her words and they separated.
Du Roy returned at four o'clock to await his mistress. She was
somewhat late because her husband had come home for a week. She
"Can you come to dinner to-morrow? He will be delighted to see you."
"No; I dine at the Walters. We have a great many political and
financial matters to talk over."
She took off her hat. He pointed to a bag on the mantelpiece: "I
bought you some sweetmeats."
She clapped her hands. "What a darling you are!" She took them,
tasted one, and said: "They are delicious. I shall not leave one.
Come, sit down in the armchair, I will sit at your feet and eat my
He smiled as he saw her take the seat a short while since occupied
by Mme. Walter. She too, called him "darling, little one, dearest,"
and the words seemed to him sweet and caressing from her lips, while
from Mme. Walter's they irritated and nauseated him.
Suddenly he remembered the seventy thousand francs he was going to
make, and bluntly interrupting Mme. de Marelle's chatter, he said:
"Listen, my darling; I am going to intrust you with a message to
your husband. Tell him from me to buy to-morrow ten thousand francs'
worth of Moroccan stock which is at seventy-two, and I predict that
before three months are passed he will have made eighty thousand
francs. Tell him to maintain absolute silence. Tell him that the
expedition to Tangiers, is decided upon, and that the French
government will guarantee the Moroccan debt. It is a state secret I
am confiding to you, remember!"
She listened to him gravely and murmured:
"Thank you. I will tell my husband this evening. You may rely upon
him; he will not speak of it; he can be depended upon; there is no
She had eaten all of her bonbons and began to toy with the buttons
on his vest. Suddenly she drew a long hair out of the buttonhole and
began to laugh.
"See! Here is one of Madeleine's hairs; you are a faithful husband!"
Then growing serious, she examined the scarcely perceptible thread
more closely and said: "It is not Madeleine's, it is dark."
He smiled. "It probably belongs to the housemaid."
But she glanced at the vest with the care of a police-inspector and
found a second hair twisted around a second button; then she saw a
third; and turning pale and trembling somewhat, she exclaimed: "Oh,
some woman has left hairs around all your buttons."
In surprise, he stammered: "Why you--you are mad."
She continued to unwind the hairs and cast them upon the floor. With
her woman's instinct she had divined their meaning and gasped in her
anger, ready to cry:
"She loves you and she wished you to carry away with you something
of hers. Oh, you are a traitor." She uttered a shrill, nervous cry:
"Oh, it is an old woman's hair--here is a white one--you have taken
a fancy to an old woman now. Then you do not need me--keep the other
one." She rose.
He attempted to detain her and stammered: "No--Clo--you are absurd--
I do not know whose it is--listen--stay--see--stay--"
But she repeated: "Keep your old woman--keep her--have a chain made
of her hair--of her gray hair--there is enough for that--"
Hastily she donned her hat and veil, and when he attempted to touch
her she struck him in the face, and made her escape while he was
stunned by the blow. When he found that he was alone, he cursed Mme.
Walter, bathed his face, and went out vowing vengeance. That time he
would not pardon. No, indeed.
He strolled to the boulevard and stopped at a jeweler's to look at a
chronometer he had wanted for some time and which would cost
eighteen hundred francs. He thought with joy: "If I make my seventy
thousand francs, I can pay for it"--and he began to dream of all the
things he would do when he got the money. First of all he would
become a deputy; then he would buy the chronometer; then he would
speculate on 'Change, and then, and then--he did not enter the
office, preferring to confer with Madeleine before seeing Walter
again and writing his article; he turned toward home. He reached Rue
Drouot when he paused; he had forgotten to inquire for Count de
Vaudrec, who lived on Chaussee d'Antin. He retraced his steps with a
light heart, thinking of a thousand things--of the fortune he would
make,--of that rascal of a Laroche, and of old Walter.
He was not at all uneasy as to Clotilde's anger, knowing that she
would soon forgive him.
When he asked the janitor of the house in which Count de Vaudrec
lived: "How is M. de Vaudrec? I have heard that he has been ailing
of late," the man replied; "The Count is very ill, sir; they think
he will not live through the night; the gout has reached his heart."
Du Roy was so startled he did not know what to do! Vaudrec dying! He
stammered: "Thanks--I will call again"--unconscious of what he was
saying. He jumped into a cab and drove home. His wife had returned.
He entered her room out of breath: "Did you know? Vaudrec is dying!"
She was reading a letter and turning to him asked: "What did you
"I said that Vaudrec is dying of an attack of gout."
Then he added: "What shall you do?"
She rose; her face was livid; she burst into tears and buried her
face in her hands. She remained standing, shaken by sobs, torn by
anguish. Suddenly she conquered her grief and wiping her eyes, said:
"I am going to him--do not worry about me--I do not know what time I
shall return--do not expect me."
He replied: "Very well. Go."
They shook hands and she left in such haste that she forgot her
gloves. Georges, after dining alone, began to write his article. He
wrote it according to the minister's instructions, hinting to the
readers that the expedition to Morocco would not take place. He took
it, when completed, to the office, conversed several moments with M.
Walter, and set out again, smoking, with a light heart, he knew not
His wife had not returned. He retired and fell asleep. Toward
midnight Madeleine came home. Georges sat up in bed and asked:
He had never seen her so pale and agitated. She whispered: "He is
"Ah--and--he told you nothing?"
"Nothing. He was unconscious when I arrived."
Questions which he dared not ask arose to Georges' lips.
"Lie down and rest," said he.
She disrobed hastily and slipped into bed.
He continued: "Had he any relatives at his death-bed?"
"Only a nephew."
"Ah! Did he often see that nephew?"
"They had not met for ten years."
"Had he other relatives?"
"No, I believe not."
"Will that nephew be his heir?"
"I do not know."
"Was Vaudrec very rich?"
"Do you know what he was worth?"
"No, not exactly--one or two millions perhaps."
He said no more. She extinguished the light. He could not sleep. He
looked upon Mme. Walter's promised seventy thousand francs as very
insignificant. Suddenly he thought he heard Madeleine crying. In
order to insure himself he asked: "Are you asleep?"
"No." Her voice was tearful and unsteady.
He continued: "I forgot to tell you that your minister has deceived
He gave her a detailed account of the combination prepared by
Laroche and Walter. When he concluded she asked: "How did you know
He replied: "Pardon me if I do not tell you! You have your means of
obtaining information into which I do not inquire; I have mine which
I desire to keep. I can vouch at any rate for the truth of my
She muttered: "It may be possible. I suspected that they were doing
something without our knowledge."
As she spoke Georges drew near her; she paid no heed to his
proximity, however, and turning toward the wall, he closed his eyes
and fell asleep.
The church was draped in black, and over the door a large escutcheon
surmounted by a coronet announced to the passers-by that a nobleman
was being buried. The ceremony was just over; those present went out
slowly, passing by the coffin, and by Count de Vaudrec's nephew, who
shook hands and returned salutations.
When Georges du Roy and his wife left the church, they walked along
side by side on their way home. They did not speak; they were both
preoccupied. At length Georges said, as if talking to himself:
"Truly it is very astonishing!"
Madeleine asked: "What, my friend?"
"That Vaudrec left us nothing."
She blushed and said: "Why should he leave us anything? Had he any
reason for doing so?" Then after several moments of silence, she
continued: "Perhaps there is a will at a lawyer's; we should not
know of it."
He replied: "That is possible, for he was our best friend. He dined
with us twice a week; he came at any time; he was at home with us.
He loved you as a father; he had no family, no children, no brothers
nor sisters, only a nephew. Yes, there should be a will. I would not
care for much--a remembrance to prove that he thought of us--that he
recognized the affection we felt for him. We should certainly have a
mark of friendship."
She said with a pensive and indifferent air: "It is possible that
there is a will."
When they entered the house, the footman handed Madeleine a letter.
She opened it and offered it to her husband.
"OFFICE OF M. LAMANEUR,
17 Rue des Vosges,"
"Madame: Kindly call at my office at a quarter past two o'clock
Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, on business which concerns
Georges, in his turn, colored.
"That is as it should be. It is strange, however, that he should
write to you and not to me, for I am the head of the family
"Shall we go at once?" she asked.
"Yes, I should like to."
After luncheon they set out for M. Lamaneur's office.
The notary was a short, round man--round all over. His head looked
like a ball fastened to another ball, which was supported by legs so
short that they too almost resembled balls.
He bowed, as Du Roy and his wife were shown into his office, pointed
to seats, and said, turning to Madeleine: "Madame, I sent for you in
order to inform you of Count de Vaudrec's will, which will be of
interest to you."
Georges could not help muttering: "I suspected that."
The notary continued: "I shall read you the document which is very
"'I, the undersigned, Paul Emile Cyprien Gontran, Count de
Vaudrec, sound both in body and mind, here express my last
wishes. As death might take me away at any moment, I wish to
take the precaution of drawing up my will, to be deposited with
"'Having no direct heirs, I bequeath all my fortune, comprising
stocks and bonds for six hundred thousand francs and landed
property for five hundred thousand, to Mme. Claire Madeleine du
Roy unconditionally. I beg her to accept that gift from a dead
friend as a proof of devoted, profound, and respectful
The notary said: "That is all. That document bears the date of
August last, and took the place of one of the same nature made two
years ago in the name of Mme. Claire Madeleine Forestier. I have the
first will, which would prove, in case of contestation on the part
of the family, that Count de Vaudrec had not changed his mind."
Madeleine cast down her eyes; her cheeks were pale. Georges
nervously twisted his mustache.
The notary continued after a moment's pause: "It is of course
understood that Madame cannot accept that legacy without your
Du Roy rose and said shortly: "I ask time for reflection."
The notary smiled, bowed, and replied pleasantly: "I comprehend the
scruples which cause you to hesitate. I may add that M. de Vaudrec's
nephew, who was informed this morning of his uncle's last wishes,
expresses himself as ready to respect them if he be given one
hundred thousand francs. In my opinion the will cannot be broken,
but a lawsuit would cause a sensation which you would probably like
to avoid. The world often judges uncharitably. Can you let me have
your reply before Saturday?"
Georges bowed, and together with his wife left the office. When they
arrived home, Du Roy closed the door and throwing his hat on the
bed, asked: "What were the relations between you and Vaudrec?"
Madeleine, who was taking off her veil, turned around with a
shudder: "Between us?"
"Yes, between you and him! One does not leave one's entire fortune
to a woman unless--"
She trembled, and could scarcely take out the pins which fastened
the transparent tissue. Then she stammered in an agitated manner:
"You are mad--you are--you are--you did not think--he would leave
Georges replied, emphazing each word: "Yes, he could have left me
something; me, your husband, his friend; but not you, my wife and
his friend. The distinction is material in the eyes of the world."
Madeleine gazed at him fixedly: "It seems to me that the world would
have considered a legacy from him to you very strange."
"Because,"--she hesitated, then continued: "Because you are my
husband; because you were not well acquainted; because I have been
his friend so long; because his first will, made during Forestier's
lifetime, was already in my favor."
Georges began to pace to and fro. He finally said: "You cannot
She answered indifferently: "Very well; it is not necessary then to
wait until Saturday; you can inform M. Lamaneur at once."
He paused before her, and they gazed into one another's eyes as if
by that mute and ardent interrogation they were trying to examine
each other's consciences. In a low voice he murmured: "Come, confess
She shrugged her shoulders. "You are absurd. Vaudrec was very fond
of me, very, but there was nothing more, never."
He stamped his foot. "You lie! It is not possible."
She replied calmly: "It is so, nevertheless."
He resumed his pacing to and fro; then pausing again, he said:
"Explain to me, then, why he left all his fortune to you."
She did so with a nonchalant air: "It is very simple. As you said
just now, we were his only friends, or rather, I was his only
friend, for he knew me when a child. My mother was a governess in
his father's house. He came here continually, and as he had no legal
heirs, he selected me. It is possible that he even loved me a
little. But what woman has never been loved thus? He brought me
flowers every Monday. You were never surprised at that, and he never
brought you any. To-day he leaves me his fortune for the same
reason, because he had no one else to leave it to. It would on the
other hand have been extremely surprising if he had left it to you."
"What are you to him?"
She spoke so naturally and so calmly that Georges hesitated before
replying: "It makes no difference; we cannot accept that bequest
under those conditions. Everyone would talk about it and laugh at
me. My fellow-journalists are already too much disposed to be
jealous of me and to attack me. I have to be especially careful of
my honor and my reputation. I cannot permit my wife to accept a
legacy of that kind from a man whom rumor has already assigned to
her as her lover. Forestier might perhaps have tolerated that, but I
She replied gently: "Very well, my dear, we will not take it; it
will be a million less in our pockets, that is all."
Georges paced the room and uttered his thoughts aloud, thus speaking
to his wife without addressing her:
"Yes, a million--so much the worse. He did not think when making his
will what a breach of etiquette he was committing. He did not
realize in what a false, ridiculous position he was placing me. He
should have left half of it to me--that would have made matters
He seated himself, crossed his legs and began to twist the ends of
his mustache, as was his custom when annoyed, uneasy, or pondering
over a weighty question.
Madeleine took up a piece of embroidery upon which she worked
occasionally, and said: "I have nothing to say. You must decide."
It was some time before he replied; then he said hesitatingly: "The
world would never understand how it was that Vaudrec constituted you
his sole heiress and that I allowed it. To accept that legacy would
be to avow guilty relations on your part and an infamous lack of
self-respect on mine. Do you know how the acceptance of it might be
interpreted? We should have to find some adroit means of palliating
it. We should have to give people to suppose, for instance, that he
divided his fortune between us, giving half to you and half to me."
She said: "I do not see how that can be done, since there is a
He replied: "Oh, that is very simple. We have no children; you can
therefore deed me part of the inheritance. In that way we can
silence malignant tongues."
She answered somewhat impatiently: "I do not see how we can silence
malignant tongues since the will is there, signed by Vaudrec."
He said angrily: "Do you need to exhibit it, or affix it to the
door? You are absurd! We will say that the fortune was left us
jointly by Count de Vaudrec. That is all. You cannot, moreover,
accept the legacy without my authority; I will only consent on the
condition of a partition which will prevent me from becoming a
laughing-stock for the world."
She glanced sharply at him: "As you will. I am ready."
He seemed to hesitate again, rose, paced the floor, and avoiding his
wife's piercing gaze, he said: "No--decidedly no--perhaps it would
be better to renounce it altogether--it would be more correct--more
honorable. From the nature of the bequest even charitably-disposed
people would suspect illicit relations."
He paused before Madeleine. "If you like, my darling, I will return
to M. Lamaneur's alone, to consult him and to explain the matter to
him. I will tell him of my scruples and I will add that we have
agreed to divide it in order to avoid any scandal. From the moment
that I accept a portion of the inheritance it will be evident that
there is nothing wrong. I can say: 'My wife accepts it because I,
her husband, accept'--I, who am the best judge of what she can do
without compromising herself."
Madeleine simply murmured: "As you wish."
He continued: "Yes, it will be as clear as day if that is done. We
inherit a fortune from a friend who wished to make no distinction
between us, thereby showing that his liking for you was purely
Platonic. You may be sure that if he had given it a thought, that is
what he would have done. He did not reflect--he did not foresee the
consequences. As you said just now, he offered you flowers every
week, he left you his wealth."
She interrupted him with a shade of annoyance:
"I understand. No more explanations are necessary. Go to the notary
He stammered in confusion: "You are right; I will go." He took his
hat, and, as he was leaving the room, he asked: "Shall I try to
compromise with the nephew for fifty thousand francs?"
She replied haughtily: "No. Give him the hundred thousand francs he
demands, and take them from my share if you wish."
Abashed, he murmured: "No, we will share it. After deducting fifty
thousand francs each we will still have a million net." Then he
added: "Until later, my little Made."
He proceeded to the notary's to explain the arrangement decided
upon, which he claimed originated with his wife. The following day
they signed a deed for five hundred thousand francs, which Madeleine
du Roy gave up to her husband.
On leaving the office, as it was pleasant, Georges proposed that
they take a stroll along the boulevards. He was very tender, very
careful of her, and laughed joyously while she remained pensive and
It was a cold, autumn day. The pedestrians seemed in haste and
walked along rapidly.
Du Roy led his wife to the shop into the windows of which he had so
often gazed at the coveted chronometer.
"Shall I buy you some trinket?" he asked.
She replied indifferently: "As you like."
They entered the shop: "What would you prefer, a necklace, a
bracelet, or earrings?"
The sight of the brilliant gems made her eyes sparkle in spite of
herself, as she glanced at the cases filled with costly baubles.
Suddenly she exclaimed: "There is a lovely bracelet."
It was a chain, very unique in shape, every link of which was set
with a different stone.
Georges asked: "How much is that bracelet?"
The jeweler replied: "Three thousand francs, sir."
"If you will let me have it for two thousand five hundred, I will
The man hesitated, then replied: "No, sir, it is impossible."
Du Roy said: "See here--throw in this chronometer at fifteen hundred
francs; that makes four thousand, and I will pay cash. If you do not
agree, I will go somewhere else."
The jeweler finally yielded. "Very well, sir."
The journalist, after leaving his address, said: "You can have my
initials G. R. C. interlaced below a baron's crown, engraved on the
Madeleine, in surprise, smiled, and when they left the shop, she
took his arm quite affectionately. She thought him very shrewd and
clever. He was right; now that he had a fortune he must have a
They passed the Vaudeville on their way arid, entering, secured a
box. Then they repaired to Mme, de Marelle's at Georges' suggestion,
to invite her to spend the evening with them. Georges rather dreaded
the first meeting with Clotilde, but she did not seem to bear him
any malice, or even to remember their disagreement. The dinner,
which they took at a restaurant, was excellent, and the evening
Georges and Madeleine returned home late. The gas was extinguished,
and in order to light the way the journalist from time to time
struck a match. On reaching the landing on the first floor they saw
their reflections in the mirror. Du Roy raised his hand with the
lighted match in it, in order to distinguish their images more
clearly, and said, with a triumphant smile:
"The millionaires are passing by."
Morocco had been conquered; France, the mistress of Tangiers, had
guaranteed the debt of the annexed country. It was rumored that two
ministers, Laroche-Mathieu being one of them, had made twenty
As for Walter, in a few days he had become one of the masters of the
world--a financier more omnipotent than a king. He was no longer the
Jew, Walter, the director of a bank, the proprietor of a yellow
newspaper; he was M. Walter the wealthy Israelite, and he wished to
Knowing the straitened circumstances of the Prince de Carlsbourg who
owned one of the fairest mansions on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore,
he proposed to buy it. He offered three million francs for it. The
prince, tempted by the sum, accepted his offer; the next day, Walter
took possession of his new dwelling. Then another idea occurred to
him--an idea of conquering all Paris--an idea a la Bonaparte.
At that time everyone was raving over a painting by the Hungarian,
Karl Marcovitch, exhibited by Jacques Lenoble and representing
"Christ Walking on the Water." Art critics enthusiastically declared
it to be the most magnificent painting of the age. Walter bought it,
thereby causing entire Paris to talk of him, to envy him, to censure
or approve his action. He issued an announcement in the papers that
everyone was invited to come on a certain evening to see it.
Du Roy was jealous of M. Walter's success. He had thought himself
wealthy with the five hundred thousand francs extorted from his
wife, and now he felt poor as he compared his paltry fortune with
the shower of millions around him. His envious rage increased daily.
He cherished ill will toward everyone--toward the Walters, even
toward his wife, and above all toward the man who had deceived him,
made use of him, and who dined twice a week at his house. Georges
acted as his secretary, agent, mouthpiece, and when he wrote at his
dictation, he felt a mad desire to strangle him. Laroche reigned
supreme in the Du Roy household, having taken the place of Count de
Vaudrec; he spoke to the servants as if he were their master.
Georges submitted to it all, like a dog which wishes to bite and
dares not. But he was often harsh and brutal to Madeleine, who
merely shrugged her shoulders and treated him as one would a fretful
child. She was surprised, too, at his constant ill humor, and said:
"I do not understand you. You are always complaining. Your position
His only reply was to turn his back upon her. He declared that he
would not attend M. Walter's fete--that he would not cross the
miserable Jew's threshold. For two months Mme. Walter had written to
him daily, beseeching him to come to see her, to appoint a meeting
where he would, in order that she might give him the seventy
thousand francs she had made for him. He did not reply and threw her
letters into the fire. Not that he would have refused to accept his
share of the profits, but he enjoyed treating her scornfully,
trampling her under foot; she was too wealthy; he would be
The day of the exhibition of the picture, as Madeleine chided him
for not going, he replied: "Leave me in peace. I shall remain at
After they had dined, he said suddenly, "I suppose I shall have to
go through with it. Get ready quickly."
"I shall be ready in fifteen minutes," she said.
As they entered the courtyard of the Hotel de Carlsbourg it was one
blaze of light. A magnificent carpet was spread upon the steps
leading to the entrance, and upon each one stood a man in livery, as
rigid as marble.
Du Roy's heart was torn with jealousy. He and his wife ascended the
steps and gave their wraps to the footmen who approached them.
At the entrance to the drawing-room, two children, one in pink, the
other in blue, handed bouquets to the ladies.
The rooms were already well filled. The majority of the ladies were
in street costumes, a proof that they came thither as they would go
to any exhibition. The few who intended to remain to the ball which
was to follow wore evening dress.
Mme. Walter, surrounded by friends, stood in the second salon and
received the visitors. Many did not know her, and walked through the
rooms as if in a museum--without paying any heed to the host and
When Virginie perceived Du Roy, she grew livid and made a movement
toward him; then she paused and waited for him to advance. He bowed
ceremoniously, while Madeleine greeted her effusively. Georges left
his wife near Mme. Walter and mingled with the guests. Five drawing-
rooms opened one into the other; they were carpeted with rich,
oriental rugs, and upon their walls hung paintings by the old
masters. As he made his way through the throng, some one seized his
arm, and a fresh, youthful voice whispered in his ear: "Ah, here you
are at last, naughty Bel-Ami! Why do we never see you any more?"
It was Suzanne Walter, with her azure eyes and wealth of golden
hair. He was delighted to see her, and apologized as they shook
"I have been so busy for two months that I have been nowhere."
She replied gravely: "That is too bad. You have grieved us deeply,
for mamma and I adore you. As for myself, I cannot do without you.
If you are not here, I am bored to death. You see I tell you so
frankly, that you will not remain away like that any more. Give me
your arm; I will show you 'Christ Walking on the Water' myself; it
is at the very end, behind the conservatory. Papa put it back there
so that everyone would be obliged to go through the rooms. It is
astonishing how proud papa is of this house."
As they walked through the rooms, all turned to look at that
handsome man and that bewitching girl. A well-known painter said:
"There is a fine couple." Georges thought: "If my position had been
made, I would have married her. Why did I never think of it? How
could I have taken the other one? What folly! One always acts too
hastily--one never reflects sufficiently." And longing, bitter
longing possessed him, corrupting all his pleasure, rendering life
Suzanne said: "You must come often, Bel-Ami; we can do anything we
like now papa is rich."
He replied: "Oh, you will soon marry--some prince, perhaps, and we
shall never meet any more."
She cried frankly: "Oh, oh, I shall not! I shall choose some one I
love very dearly. I am rich enough for two."
He smiled ironically and said: "I give you six months. By that time
you will be Madame la Marquise, Madame la Duchesse, or Madame la
Princesse, and you will look down upon me, Mademoiselle."
She pretended to be angry, patted his arm with her fan, and vowed
that she would marry according to the dictates of her heart.
He replied: "We shall see; you are too wealthy."
"You, too, have inherited some money."
"Barely twenty thousand livres a year. It is a mere pittance
"But your wife has the same."
"Yes, we have a million together; forty thousand a year. We cannot
even keep a carriage on that."
They had, in the meantime, reached the last drawing-room, and before
them lay the conservatory with its rare shrubs and plants. To their
left, under a dome of palms, was a marble basin, on the edges of
which four large swans of delftware emitted the water from their
The journalist stopped and said to himself: "This is luxury; this is
the kind of house in which to live. Why can I not have one?"
His companion did not speak. He looked at her and thought once more:
"If I only had taken her!"
Suddenly Suzanne seemed to awaken from her reverie. "Come," said
she, dragging Georges through a group which barred their way, and
turning him to the right. Before him, surrounded by verdure on all
sides, was the picture. One had to look closely at it in order to
understand it. It was a grand work--the work of a master--one of
those triumphs of art which furnishes one for years with food for
Du Roy gazed at it for some time, and then turned away, to make room
for others. Suzanne's tiny hand still rested upon his arm. She
"Would you like a glass of champagne? We will go to the buffet; we
shall find papa there."
Slowly they traversed the crowded rooms. Suddenly Georges heard a
voice say: "That is Laroche and Mme. du Roy."
He turned and saw his wife passing upon the minister's arm. They
were talking in low tones and smiling into each other's eyes. He
fancied he saw some people whisper, as they gazed at them, and he
felt a desire to fall upon those two beings and smite them to the
earth. His wife was making a laughing-stock of him. Who was she? A
shrewd little parvenue, that was all. He could never make his way
with a wife who compromised him. She would be a stumbling-block in
his path. Ah, if he had foreseen, if he had known. He would have
played for higher stakes. What a brilliant match he might have made
with little Suzanne! How could he have been so blind?
They reached the dining-room with its marble columns and walls hung
with old Gobelins tapestry. Walter spied his editor, and hastened to
shake hands. He was beside himself with joy. "Have you seen
everything? Say, Suzanne, have you shown him everything? What a lot
of people, eh? Have you seen Prince de Guerche? he just drank a
glass of punch." Then he pounced upon Senator Rissolin and his wife.
A gentleman greeted Suzanne--a tall, slender man with fair whiskers
and a worldly air. Georges heard her call him Marquis de Cazolles,
and he was suddenly inspired with jealousy. How long had she known
him? Since she had become wealthy no doubt. He saw in him a possible
suitor. Some one seized his arm. It was Norbert de Varenne. The old
poet said: "This is what they call amusing themselves. After a while
they will dance, then they will retire, and the young girls will be
satisfied. Take some champagne; it is excellent."
Georges scarcely heard his words. He was looking for Suzanne, who
had gone off with the Marquis de Cazolles; he left Norbert de
Varenne abruptly and went in pursuit of the young girl. The thirsty
crowd stopped him; when he had made his way through it, he found
himself face to face with M. and Mme. de Marelle. He had often met
the wife, but he had not met the husband for some time; the latter
grasped both of his hands and thanked him for the message he had
sent him by Clotilde relative to the stocks.
Du Roy replied: "In exchange for that service I shall take your
wife, or rather offer her my arm. Husband and wife should always be
M. de Marelle bowed. "Very well. If I lose you we can meet here
again in an hour."
The two young people disappeared in the crowd, followed by the
husband. Mme. de Marelle said: "There are two girls who will have
twenty or thirty millions each, and Suzanne is pretty in the
He made no reply; his own thought coming from the lips of another
irritated him. He took Clotilde to see the painting. As they crossed
the conservatory he saw his wife seated near Laroche-Mathieu, both
of them almost hidden behind a group of plants. They seemed to say:
"We are having a meeting in public, for we do not care for the
Mme. de Marelle admired Karl Marcovitch's painting, and they turned
to repair to the other rooms. They were separated from M. de
Marelle. He asked: "Is Laurine still vexed with me?"
"Yes. She refuses to see you and goes away when you are mentioned."
He did not reply. The child's sudden enmity grieved and annoyed him.
Suzanne met them at a door and cried: "Oh, here you are! Now, Bel-
Ami, you are going to be left alone, for I shall take Clotilde to
see my room." And the two women glided through the throng. At that
moment a voice at his side murmured: "Georges!"
It was Mme. Walter. She continued in a low voice: "How cruel you
are! How needlessly you inflict suffering upon me. I bade Suzanne
take that woman away that I might have a word with you. Listen: I
must speak to you this evening--or--or--you do not know what I shall
do. Go into the conservatory. You will find a door to the left
through which you can reach the garden. Follow the walk directly in
front of you. At the end of it you will see an arbor. Expect me in
ten minutes. If you do not meet me, I swear I will cause a scandal
here at once!"
He replied haughtily: "Very well, I shall be at the place you named
in ten minutes."
But Jacques Rival detained him. When he reached the alley, he saw
Mme. Walter in front of him; she cried: "Ah, here you are! Do you
wish to kill me?"
He replied calmly: "I beseech you, none of that, or I shall leave
you at once."
Throwing her arms around his neck, she exclaimed: "What have I done
to you that you should treat me so?"
He tried to push her away: "You twisted your hair around my coat
buttons the last time we met, and it caused trouble between my wife
She shook her head: "Ah, your wife would not care. It was one of
your mistresses who made a scene."
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