by Henri Rene Guy De Maupassant
CHAPTER V. THE
CHAPTER VI. A
CHAPTER VII. A
DUEL WITH AN END
DEATH AND A
TAKES A HAND
CHAPTER XII. A
MEETING AND THE
CHAPTER XIV. THE
THE FINAL PLOT
THE HISTORY OF A SCOUNDREL
CHAPTER I. POVERTY
After changing his five-franc piece Georges Duroy left the
restaurant. He twisted his mustache in military style and cast a
rapid, sweeping glance upon the diners, among whom were three
saleswomen, an untidy music-teacher of uncertain age, and two women
with their husbands.
When he reached the sidewalk, he paused to consider what route he
should take. It was the twenty-eighth of June and he had only three
francs in his pocket to last him the remainder of the month. That
meant two dinners and no lunches, or two lunches and no dinners,
according to choice. As he pondered upon this unpleasant state of
affairs, he sauntered down Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, preserving his
military air and carriage, and rudely jostled the people upon the
streets in order to clear a path for himself. He appeared to be
hostile to the passers-by, and even to the houses, the entire city.
Tall, well-built, fair, with blue eyes, a curled mustache, hair
naturally wavy and parted in the middle, he recalled the hero of the
It was one of those sultry, Parisian evenings when not a breath of
air is stirring; the sewers exhaled poisonous gases and the
restaurants the disagreeable odors of cooking and of kindred smells.
Porters in their shirt-sleeves, astride their chairs, smoked their
pipes at the carriage gates, and pedestrians strolled leisurely
along, hats in hand.
When Georges Duroy reached the boulevard he halted again, undecided
as to which road to choose. Finally he turned toward the Madeleine
and followed the tide of people.
The large, well-patronized cafes tempted Duroy, but were he to
drink only two glasses of beer in an evening, farewell to the meager
supper the following night! Yet he said to himself: "I will take a
glass at the Americain. By Jove, I am thirsty."
He glanced at men seated at the tables, men who could afford to
slake their thirst, and he scowled at them. "Rascals!" he muttered.
If he could have caught one of them at a corner in the dark he would
have choked him without a scruple! He recalled the two years spent in
Africa, and the manner in which he had extorted money from the Arabs.
A smile hovered about his lips at the recollection of an escapade
which had cost three men their lives, a foray which had given his two
comrades and himself seventy fowls, two sheep, money, and something to
laugh about for six months. The culprits were never found; indeed,
they were not sought for, the Arab being looked upon as the soldier's
But in Paris it was different; there one could not commit such
deeds with impunity. He regretted that he had not remained where he
was; but he had hoped to improve his conditionand for that reason he
was in Paris!
He passed the Vaudeville and stopped at the Cafe Americain,
debating as to whether he should take that "glass." Before deciding,
he glanced at a clock; it was a quarter past nine. He knew that when
the beer was placed in front of him, he would drink it; and then what
would he do at eleven o'clock? So he walked on, intending to go as far
as the Madeleine and return.
When he reached the Place de l'Opera, a tall, young man passed him,
whose face he fancied was familiar. He followed him, repeating:
"Where the deuce have I seen that fellow?"
For a time he racked his brain in vain; then suddenly he saw the
same man, but not so corpulent and more youthful, attired in the
uniform of a Hussar. He exclaimed: "Wait, Forestier!" and hastening
up to him, laid his hand upon the man's shoulder. The latter turned,
looked at him, and said: "What do you want, sir?"
Duroy began to laugh: "Don't you remember me?"
"Not remember Georges Duroy of the Sixth Hussars."
Forestier extended both hands.
"Ah, my dear fellow, how are you?"
"Very well. And how are you?"
"Oh, I am not very well. I cough six months out of the twelve as a
result of bronchitis contracted at Bougival, about the time of my
return to Paris four years ago."
"But you look well."
Forestier, taking his former comrade's arm, told him of his malady,
of the consultations, the opinions and the advice of the doctors and
of the difficulty of following their advice in his position. They
ordered him to spend the winter in the south, but how could he? He
was married and was a journalist in a responsible editorial position.
"I manage the political department on 'La Vie Francaise'; I report
the doings of the Senate for 'Le Salut,' and from time to time I
write for 'La Planete.' That is what I am doing."
Duroy, in surprise, glanced at him. He was very much changed.
Formerly Forestier had been thin, giddy, noisy, and always in good
spirits. But three years of life in Paris had made another man of
him; now he was stout and serious, and his hair was gray on his
temples although he could not number more than twenty-seven years.
Forestier asked: "Where are you going?"
Duroy replied: "Nowhere in particular."
"Very well, will you accompany me to the 'Vie Francaise' where I
have some proofs to correct; and afterward take a drink with me?"
They walked along arm-in-arm with that familiarity which exists
between schoolmates and brother-officers.
"What are you doing in Paris?" asked Forestier, Duroy shrugged his
"Dying of hunger, simply. When my time was up, I came hither to
make my fortune, or rather to live in Parisand for six months I have
been employed in a railroad office at fifteen hundred francs a year."
Forestier murmured: "That is not very much."
"But what can I do?" answered Duroy. "I am alone, I know no one, I
have no recommendations. The spirit is not lacking, but the means
His companion looked at him from head to foot like a practical man
who is examining a subject; then he said, in a tone of conviction:
"You see, my dear fellow, all depends on assurance, here. A shrewd,
observing man can sometimes become a minister. You must obtrude
yourself and yet not ask anything. But how is it you have not found
anything better than a clerkship at the station?"
Duroy replied: "I hunted everywhere and found nothing else. But I
know where I can get three thousand francs at leastas riding-
master at the Pellerin school."
Forestier stopped him: "Don't do it, for you can earn ten thousand
francs. You will ruin your prospects at once. In your office at least
no one knows you; you can leave it if you wish to at any time. But
when you are once a riding-master all will be over. You might as well
be a butler in a house to which all Paris comes to dine. When you have
given riding lessons to men of the world or to their sons, they will
no longer consider you their equal."
He paused, reflected several seconds and then asked:
"Are you a bachelor?"
"Yes, though I have been smitten several times."
"That makes no difference. If Cicero and Tiberius were mentioned
would you know who they were?"
"Good, no one knows any more except about a score of fools. It is
not difficult to pass for being learned. The secret is not to betray
your ignorance. Just maneuver, avoid the quicksands and obstacles,
and the rest can be found in a dictionary."
He spoke like one who understood human nature, and he smiled as the
crowd passed them by. Suddenly he began to cough and stopped to allow
the paroxysm to spend itself; then he said in a discouraged tone:
"Isn't it tiresome not to be able to get rid of this bronchitis?
And here is midsummer! This winter I shall go to Mentone. Health
They reached the Boulevarde Poissoniere; behind a large glass door
an open paper was affixed; three people were reading it. Above the
door was printed the legend, "La Vie Francaise."
Forestier pushed open the door and said: "Come in." Duroy entered;
they ascended the stairs, passed through an antechamber in which two
clerks greeted their comrade, and then entered a kind of waiting-
"Sit down," said Forestier, "I shall be back in five minutes," and
Duroy remained where he was; from time to time men passed him by,
entering by one door and going out by another before he had time to
glance at them.
Now they were young men, very young, with a busy air, holding
sheets of paper in their hands; now compositors, their shirts spotted
with inkcarefully carrying what were evidently fresh proofs.
Occasionally a gentleman entered, fashionably dressed, some reporter
Forestier reappeared arm-in-arm with a tall, thin man of thirty or
forty, dressed in a black coat, with a white cravat, a dark
complexion, and an insolent, self-satisfied air. Forestier said to
him: "Adieu, my dear sir," and the other pressed his hand with: "Au
revoir, my friend." Then he descended the stairs whistling, his cane
under his arm.
Duroy asked his name.
"That is Jacques Rival, the celebrated writer and duelist. He came
to correct his proofs. Garin, Montel and he are the best witty and
realistic writers we have in Paris. He earns thirty thousand francs a
year for two articles a week."
As they went downstairs, they met a stout, little man with long
hair, who was ascending the stairs whistling. Forestier bowed low.
"Norbert de Varenne," said he, "the poet, the author of 'Les
Soleils Morts,'a very expensive man. Every poem he gives us costs
three hundred francs and the longest has not two hundred lines. But
let us go into the Napolitain, I am getting thirsty."
When they were seated at a table, Forestier ordered two glasses of
beer. He emptied his at a single draught, while Duroy sipped his beer
slowly as if it were something rare and precious. Suddenly his
companion asked, "Why don't you try journalism?"
Duroy looked at him in surprise and said: "Because I have never
"Bah, we all have to make a beginning. I could employ you myself by
sending you to obtain information. At first you would only get two
hundred and fifty francs a month but your cab fare would be paid.
Shall I speak to the manager?"
"If you will."
"Well, then come and dine with me to-morrow; I will only ask five
or six to meet you; the manager, M. Walter, his wife, with Jacques
Rival, and Norbert de Varenne whom you have just seen, and also a
friend of Mme. Forestier, Will you come?"
Duroy hesitated, blushing and perplexed. Finally he, murmured: "I
have no suitable clothes."
Forestier was amazed. "You have no dress suit? Egad, that is
indispensable. In Paris, it is better to have no bed than no
clothes." Then, fumbling in his vest-pocket, he drew from it two
louis, placed them before his companion, and said kindly: "You can
repay me when it is convenient. Buy yourself what you need and pay an
installment on it. And come and dine with us at half past seven, at 17
In confusion Duroy picked up the money and stammered: "You are very
kindI am much obligedbe sure I shall not forget."
Forestier interrupted him: "That's all right, take another glass of
beer. Waiter, two more glasses!" When he had paid the score, the
journalist asked: "Would you like a stroll for an hour?"
They turned toward the Madeleine. "What shall we do?" asked
Forestier. "They say that in Paris an idler can always find
amusement, but it is not true. A turn in the Bois is only enjoyable
if you have a lady with you, and that is a rare occurrence. The cafe
concerts may divert my tailor and his wife, but they do not interest
me. So what can we do? Nothing! There ought to be a summer garden
here, open at night, where a man could listen to good music while
drinking beneath the trees. It would be a pleasant lounging place.
You could walk in alleys bright with electric light and seat yourself
where you pleased to hear the music. It would be charming. Where would
you like to go?"
Duroy did not know what to reply; finally he said: "I have never
been to the Folies Bergeres. I should like to go there."
His companion exclaimed: "The Folies Bergeres! Very well!"
They turned and walked toward the Faubourg Montmartre. The
brilliantly illuminated building loomed up before them. Forestier
entered, Duroy stopped him. "We forgot to pass through the gate."
The other replied in a consequential tone: "I never pay," and
approached the box-office.
"Have you a good box?"
"Certainly, M. Forestier."
He took the ticket handed him, pushed open the door, and they were
within the hall. A cloud of tobacco smoke almost hid the stage and
the opposite side of the theater. In the spacious foyer which led to
the circular promenade, brilliantly dressed women mingled with
Forestier forced his way rapidly through the throng and accosted an
"This way, sir."
The friends were shown into a tiny box, hung and carpeted in red,
with four chairs upholstered in the same color. They seated
themselves. To their right and left were similar boxes. On the stage
three men were performing on trapezes. But Duroy paid no heed to
them, his eyes finding more to interest them in the grand promenade.
Forestier remarked upon the motley appearance of the throng, but
Duroy did not listen to him. A woman, leaning her arms upon the edge
of her loge, was staring at him. She was a tall, voluptuous brunette,
her face whitened with enamel, her black eyes penciled, and her lips
painted. With a movement of her head, she summoned a friend who was
passing, a blonde with auburn hair, likewise inclined to embonpoint,
and said to her in a whisper intended to be heard; "There is a nice
Forestier heard it, and said to Duroy with a smile: "You are lucky,
my dear boy. My congratulations!"
The ci-devant soldier blushed and mechanically fingered the two
pieces of gold in his pocket.
The curtain fellthe orchestra played a valseand Duroy said:
"Shall we walk around the gallery?"
"If you like."
Soon they were carried along in the current of promenaders. Duroy
drank in with delight the air, vitiated as it was by tobacco and
cheap perfume, but Forestier perspired, panted, and coughed.
"Let us go into the garden," he said. Turning to the left, they
entered a kind of covered garden in which two large fountains were
playing. Under the yews, men and women sat at tables drinking.
"Another glass of beer?" asked Forestier.
They took their seats and watched the promenaders. Occasionally a
woman would stop and ask with a coarse smile: "What have you to
Forestier's invariable answer was: "A glass of water from the
fountain." And the woman would mutter, "Go along," and walk away.
At last the brunette reappeared, arm-in-arm with the blonde. They
made a handsome couple. The former smiled on perceiving Duroy, and
taking a chair she calmly seated herself in front of him, and said in
a clear voice: "Waiter, two glasses."
In astonishment, Forestier exclaimed: "You are not at all bashful!"
She replied: "Your friend has bewitched me; he is such a fine
fellow. I believe he has turned my head."
Duroy said nothing.
The waiter brought the beer, which the women swallowed rapidly;
then they rose, and the brunette, nodding her head and tapping Duroy's
arm with her fan, said to him: "Thank you, my dear! However, you are
not very talkative."
As they disappeared, Forestier laughed and said: "Tell, me, old
man, did you know that you had a charm for the weaker sex? You must be
Without replying, Duroy smiled. His friend asked: "Shall you remain
any longer? I am going; I have had enough."
Georges murmured: "Yes, I will stay a little longer: it is not
Forestier arose: "Very well, then, good-bye until to-morrow. Do not
forget: 17 Rue Fontaine at seven thirty."
"I shall not forget. Thank you."
The friends shook hands and the journalist left Duroy to his own
Forestier once out of sight, Duroy felt free, and again he joyously
touched the gold pieces in his pocket; then rising, he mingled with
He soon discovered the blonde and the brunette. He went toward
them, but when near them dared not address them.
The brunette called out to him: "Have you found your tongue?"
He stammered: "Zounds!" too bashful to say another word. A pause
ensued, during which the brunette took his arm and together they left
CHAPTER II. MADAME FORESTIER
"Where does M. Forestier live?"
"Third floor on the left," said the porter pleasantly, on learning
Georges ascended the staircase. He was somewhat embarrassed and
ill- at-ease. He had on a new suit but he was uncomfortable. He felt
that it was defective; his boots were not glossy, he had bought his
shirt that same evening at the Louvre for four francs fifty, his
trousers were too wide and betrayed their cheapness in their fit, or
rather, misfit, and his coat was too tight.
Slowly he ascended the stairs, his heart beating, his mind anxious.
Suddenly before him stood a well-dressed gentleman staring at him.
The person resembled Duroy so close that the latter retreated, then
stopped, and saw that it was his own image reflected in a pier-
glass! Not having anything but a small mirror at home, he had not
been able to see himself entirely, and had exaggerated the
imperfections of his toilette. When he saw his reflection in the
glass, he did not even recognize himself; he took himself for some
one else, for a man-of-the-world, and was really satisfied with his
general appearance. Smiling to himself, Duroy extended his hand and
expressed his astonishment, pleasure, and approbation. A door opened
on the staircase, He was afraid of being surprised and began to
ascend more rapidly, fearing that he might have been seen posing
there by some of his friend's invited guests.
On reaching the second floor, he saw another mirror, and once more
slackened his pace to look at himself. He likewise paused before the
third glass, twirled his mustache, took off his hat to arrange his
hair, and murmured half aloud, a habit of his: "Hall mirrors are most
Then he rang the bell. The door opened almost immediately, and
before him stood a servant in a black coat, with a grave, shaven
face, so perfect in his appearance that Duroy again became confused
as he compared the cut of their garments.
The lackey asked:
"Whom shall I announce, Monsieur?" He raised a portiere and
pronounced the name.
Duroy lost his self-possession upon being ushered into a world as
yet strange to him. However, he advanced. A young, fair woman
received him alone in a large, well-lighted room. He paused,
disconcerted. Who was that smiling lady? He remembered that Forestier
was married, and the thought that the handsome blonde was his friend's
wife rendered him awkward and ill-at-ease. He stammered out:
"Madame, I am"
She held out her hand. "I know, MonsieurCharles told me of your
meeting last night, and I am very glad that he asked you to dine with
Duroy blushed to the roots of his hair, not knowing how to reply;
he felt that he was being inspected from his head to his feet. He half
thought of excusing himself, of inventing an explanation of the
carelessness of his toilette, but he did not know how to touch upon
that delicate subject.
He seated himself upon a chair she pointed out to him, and as he
sank into its luxurious depths, it seemed to him that he was entering
a new and charming life, that he would make his mark in the world,
that he was saved. He glanced at Mme. Forestier. She wore a gown of
pale blue cashmere which clung gracefully to her supple form and
rounded outlines; her arms and throat rose in, lily-white purity from
the mass of lace which ornamented the corsage and short sleeves. Her
hair was dressed high and curled on the nape of her neck.
Duroy grew more at his ease under her glance, which recalled to
him, he knew not why, that of the girl he had met the preceding
evening at the Folies-Bergeres. Mme. Forestier had gray eyes, a small
nose, full lips, and a rather heavy chin, an irregular, attractive
face, full of gentleness and yet of malice.
After a short silence, she asked: "Have you been in Paris a long
Gradually regaining his self-possession, he replied: "a few months,
Madame. I am in the railroad employ, but my friend Forestier has
encouraged me to hope that, thanks to him, I can enter into
She smiled kindly and murmured in a low voice: "I know."
The bell rang again and the servant announced: "Mme. de Marelle."
She was a dainty brunette, attired in a simple, dark robe; a red rose
in her black tresses seemed to accentuate her special character, and a
young girl, or rather a child, for such she was, followed her.
Mme. Forestier said: "Good evening, Clotilde."
"Good evening, Madeleine."
They embraced each other, then the child offered her forehead with
the assurance of an adult, saying:
"Good evening, cousin."
Mme. Forestier kissed her, and then made the introductions:
"M. Georges Duroy, an old friend of Charles. Mme. de Marelle, my
friend, a relative in fact." She added: "Here, you know, we do not
stand on ceremony."
Duroy bowed. The door opened again and a short man entered, upon
his arm a tall, handsome woman, taller than he and much younger, with
distinguished manners and a dignified carriage. It was M. Walter,
deputy, financier, a moneyed man, and a man of business, manager of
"La Vie Francaise," with his wife, nee Basile Ravalade, daughter of
the banker of that name.
Then came Jacques Rival, very elegant, followed by Norbert de
Varenne. The latter advanced with the grace of the old school and
taking Mme. Forestier's hand kissed it; his long hair falling upon
his hostess's bare arm as he did so.
Forestier now entered, apologizing for being late; he had been
The servant announced dinner, and they entered the dining-room.
Duroy was placed between Mme. de Marelle and her daughter. He was
again rendered uncomfortable for fear of committing some error in the
conventional management of his fork, his spoon, or his glasses, of
which he had four. Nothing was said during the soup; then Norbert de
Varenne asked a general question: "Have you read the Gauthier case?
How droll it was!"
Then followed a discussion of the subject in which the ladies
joined. Then a duel was mentioned and Jacques Rival led the
conversation; that was his province. Duroy did not venture a remark,
but occasionally glanced at his neighbor. A diamond upon a slight,
golden thread depended from her ear; from time to time she uttered a
remark which evoked a smile upon his lips. Duroy sought vainly for
some compliment to pay her; he busied himself with her daughter,
filled her glass, waited upon her, and the child, more dignified than
her mother, thanked him gravely saying, "You are very kind, Monsieur,"
while she listened to the conversation with a reflective air. The
dinner was excellent and everyone was delighted with it.
The conversation returned to the colonization of Algeria. M. Walter
uttered several jocose remarks; Forestier alluded to the article he
had prepared for the morrow; Jacques Rival declared himself in favor
of a military government with grants of land to all the officers
after thirty years of colonial service.
"In that way," said he, "you can establish a strong colony,
familiar with and liking the country, knowing its language and able to
cope with all those local yet grave questions which invariably
Norbert de Varenne interrupted: "Yes, they would know everything,
except agriculture. They would speak Arabic, but they would not know
how to transplant beet-root, and how to sow wheat. They would be
strong in fencing, but weak in the art of farming. On the contrary,
the new country should be opened to everyone. Intelligent men would
make positions for themselves; the others would succumb. It is a
A pause ensued. Everyone smiled. Georges Duroy, startled at the
sound of his own voice, as if he had never heard it, said:
"What is needed the most down there is good soil. Really fertile
land costs as much as it does in France and is bought by wealthy
Parisians. The real colonists, the poor, are generally cast out into
the desert, where nothing grows for lack of water."
All eyes turned upon him. He colored. M. Walter asked: "Do you know
He replied: "Yes, sir, I was there twenty-eight months." Leaving
the subject of colonization, Norbert de Varenne questioned him as to
some of the Algerian customs. Georges spoke with animation; excited
by the wine and the desire to please, he related anecdotes of the
regiment, of Arabian life, and of the war.
Mme. Walter murmured to him in her soft tones: "You could write a
series of charming articles."
Forestier took advantage of the situation to say to M. Walter: "My
dear sir, I spoke to you a short while since of M. Georges Duroy and
asked you to permit me to include him on the staff of political
reporters. Since Marambot has left us, I have had no one to take
urgent and confidential reports, and the paper is suffering by it."
M. Walter put on his spectacles in order to examine Duroy. Then he
said: "I am convinced that M. Duroy is original, and if he will call
upon me tomorrow at three o'clock, we will arrange matters." After a
pause, turning to the young man, he said: "You may write us a short
sketch on Algeria, M. Duroy. Simply relate your experiences; I am
sure they will interest our readers. But you must do it quickly."
Mme. Walter added with her customary, serious grace: "You will have
a charming title: 'Souvenirs of a Soldier in Africa.' Will he not, M.
The old poet, who had attained renown late in life, disliked and
mistrusted newcomers. He replied dryly: "Yes, excellent, provided
that it is written in the right key, for there lies the great
Mme. Forestier cast upon Duroy a protecting and smiling glance
which seemed to say: "You shall succeed." The servant filled the
glasses with wine, and Forestier proposed the toast: "To the long
prosperity of 'La Vie Francaise.'" Duroy felt superhuman strength
within him, infinite hope, and invincible resolution. He was at his
ease now among these people; his eyes rested upon their faces with
renewed assurance, and for the first time he ventured to address his
"You have the most beautiful earrings I have ever seen."
She turned toward him with a smile: "It is a fancy of mine to wear
diamonds like this, simply on a thread."
He murmured in reply, trembling at his audacity: "It is charming
but the ear increases the beauty of the ornament."
She thanked him with a glance. As he turned his head, he met Mme.
Forestier's eyes, in which he fancied he saw a mingled expression of
gaiety, malice, and encouragement. All the men were talking at the
same time; their discussion was animated.
When the party left the dining-room, Duroy offered his arm to the
little girl. She thanked him gravely and stood upon tiptoe in order
to lay her hand upon his arm. Upon entering the drawing-room, the
young man carefully surveyed it. It was not a large room; but there
were no bright colors, and one felt at ease; it was restful. The
walls were draped with violet hangings covered with tiny embroidered
flowers of yellow silk. The portieres were of a grayish blue and the
chairs were of all shapes, of all sizes; scattered about the room
were couches and large and small easy-chairs, all covered with Louis
XVI. brocade, or Utrecht velvet, a cream colored ground with garnet
"Do you take coffee, M. Duroy?" Mme. Forestier offered him a cup,
with the smile that was always upon her lips.
"Yes, Madame, thank you." He took the cup, and as he did so, the
young woman whispered to him: "Pay Mme. Walter some attention." Then
she vanished before he could reply.
First he drank his coffee, which he feared he should let fall upon
the carpet; then he sought a pretext for approaching the manager's
wife and commencing a conversation. Suddenly he perceived that she
held an empty cup in her hand, and as she was not near a table, she
did not know where to put it. He rushed toward her:
"Allow me, Madame."
"Thank you, sir."
He took away the cup and returned: "If you, but knew, Madame, what
pleasant moments 'La Vie Francaise' afforded me, when I was in the
desert! It is indeed the only paper one cares to read outside of
France; it contains everything."
She smiled with amiable indifference as she replied: "M. Walter had
a great deal of trouble in producing the kind of journal which was
They talked of Paris, the suburbs, the Seine, the delights of
summer, of everything they could think of. Finally M. Norbert de
Varenne advanced, a glass of liqueur in his hand, and Duroy
discreetly withdrew. Mme. de Marelle, who was chatting with her
hostess, called him: "So, sir," she said bluntly, "you are going to
try journalism?" That question led to a renewal of the interrupted
conversation with Mme. Walter. In her turn Mme. de Marelle related
anecdotes, and becoming familiar, laid her hand upon Duroy's arm. He
felt that he would like to devote himself to her, to protect her
and the slowness with which he replied to her questions indicated his
preoccupation. Suddenly, without any cause, Mme. de Marelle called:
"Laurine!" and the girl came to her. "Sit down here, my child, you
will be cold near the window."
Duroy was seized with an eager desire to embrace the child, as if
part of that embrace would revert to the mother. He asked in a
gallant, yet paternal tone: "Will you permit me to kiss you,
Mademoiselle?" The child raised her eyes with an air of surprise.
Mme. de Marelle said with a smile: "Reply."
"I will allow you to-day, Monsieur, but not all the time."
Seating himself, Duroy took Laurine upon his knee, and kissed her
lips and her fine wavy hair. Her mother was surprised: "Well, that is
strange! Ordinarily she only allows ladies to caress her. You are
Duroy colored, but did not reply.
When Mme. Forestier joined them, a cry of astonishment escaped her:
"Well, Laurine has become sociable; what a miracle!"
The young man rose to take his leave, fearing he might spoil his
conquest by some awkward word. He bowed to the ladies, clasped and
gently pressed their hands, and then shook hands with the men. He
observed that Jacques Rival's was dry and warm and responded
cordially to his pressure; Norbert de Varenne's was moist and cold
and slipped through his fingers; Walter's was cold and soft, without
life, expressionless; Forestier's fat and warm.
His friend whispered to him: "To-morrow at three o'clock; do not
When he reached the staircase, he felt like running down, his joy
was so great; he went down two steps at a time, but suddenly on the
second floor, in the large mirror, he saw a gentleman hurrying on,
and he slackened his pace, as much ashamed as if he had been
surprised in a crime.
He surveyed himself some time with a complacent smile; then taking
leave of his image, he bowed low, ceremoniously, as if saluting some
CHAPTER III. FIRST ATTEMPTS
When Georges Duroy reached the street, he hesitated as to what he
should do. He felt inclined to stroll along, dreaming of the future
and inhaling the soft night air; but the thought of the series of
articles ordered by M. Walter occurred to him, and he decided to
return home at once and begin work. He walked rapidly along until he
came to Rue Boursault. The tenement in which he lived was occupied by
twenty familiesfamilies of workingmenand as he mounted the
staircase he experienced a sensation of disgust and a desire to live
as wealthy men do. Duroy's room was on the fifth floor. He entered
it, opened his window, and looked out: the view was anything but
He turned away, thinking: "This won't do. I must go to work." So he
placed his light upon the table and began to write. He dipped his pen
into the ink and wrote at the head of his paper in a bold hand:
"Souvenirs of a Soldier in Africa." Then he cast about for the first
phrase. He rested his head upon his hand and stared at the blank
sheet before him. What should he say? Suddenly he thought: "I must
begin with my departure," and he wrote: "In 1874, about the fifteenth
of May, when exhausted France was recruiting after the catastrophe of
the terrible years" Here he stopped short, not knowing how to
introduce his subject. After a few minutes' reflection, he decided to
lay aside that page until the following day, and to write a
description of Algiers. He began: "Algiers is a very clean city" but
he could not continue. After an effort he added: "It is inhabited
partly by Arabs." Then he threw his pen upon the table and arose. He
glanced around his miserable room; mentally he rebelled against his
poverty and resolved to leave the next day.
Suddenly the desire to work came on him, and he tried to begin the
article again; he had vague ideas of what he wanted to say, but he
could not express his thoughts in words. Convinced of his inability
he arose once more, his blood coursing rapidly through his veins. He
turned to the window just as the train was coming out of the tunnel,
and his thoughts reverted to his parents. He saw their tiny home on
the heights overlooking Rouen and the valley of the Seine. His father
and mother kept an inn, La Belle-Vue, at which the citizens of the
faubourgs took their lunches on Sundays. They had wished to make a
"gentleman" of their son and had sent him to college. His studies
completed, he had entered the army with the intention of becoming an
officer, a colonel, or a general. But becoming disgusted with military
life, he determined to try his fortune in Paris. When his time of
service had expired, he went thither, with what results we have seen.
He awoke from his reflections as the locomotive whistled shrilly,
closed his window, and began to disrobe, muttering: "Bah, I shall be
able to work better to-morrow morning. My brain is not clear to-night.
I have drunk a little too much. I can't work well under such
circumstances." He extinguished his light and fell asleep.
He awoke early, and, rising, opened his window to inhale the fresh
air. In a few moments he seated himself at his table, dipped his pen
in the ink, rested his head upon his hand and thoughtbut in vain!
However, he was not discouraged, but in thought reassured himself:
"Bah, I am not accustomed to it! It is a profession that must be
learned like all professions. Some one must help me the first time.
I'll go to Forestier. He'll start my article for me in ten minutes."
When he reached the street, Duroy decided that it was rather early
to present himself at his friend's house, so he strolled along under
the trees on one of the boulevards for a time. On arriving at
Forestier's door, he found his friend going out.
"You hereat this hour! Can I do anything for you?"
Duroy stammered in confusion: "IIcannot write that article on
Algeria that M. Walter wants. It is not very surprising, seeing that
I have never written anything. It requires practice. I could write
very rapidly, I am sure, if I could make a beginning. I have the
ideas but I cannot express them." He paused and hesitated.
Forestier smiled maliciously: "I understand that."
Duroy continued: "Yes, anyone is liable to have that trouble at the
beginning; and, wellI have come to ask you to help me. In ten
minutes you can set me right. You can give me a lesson in style;
without you I can do nothing."
The other smiled gaily. He patted his companion's arm and said to
him: "Go to my wife; she will help you better than I can. I have
trained her for that work. I have not time this morning or I would do
But Duroy hesitated: "At this hour I cannot inquire for her."
"Oh, yes, you can; she has risen. You will find her in my study."
"I will go, but I shall tell her you sent me!"
Forestier walked away, and Duroy slowly ascended the stairs,
wondering what he should say and what kind of a reception he would
The servant who opened the door said: "Monsieur has gone out."
Duroy replied: "Ask Mme. Forestier if she will see me, and tell her
that M. Forestier, whom I met on the street, sent me."
The lackey soon returned and ushered Duroy into Madame's presence.
She was seated at a table and extended her hand to him.
"So soon?" said she. It was not a reproach, but a simple question.
He stammered: "I did not want to come up, Madame, but your husband,
whom I met below, insistedI dare scarcely tell you my errandI
worked late last night and early this morning, to write the article
on Algeria which M. Walter wantsand I did not succeedI destroyed
all my attemptsI am not accustomed to the workand I came to ask
Forestier to assist mehis once."
She interrupted with a laugh: "And he sent you to me?"
"Yes, Madame. He said you could help me better than hebutI
dared notI did not like to."
"It will be delightful to work together that way. I am charmed with
your idea. Wait, take my chair, for they know my handwriting on the
paperwe will write a successful article."
She took a cigarette from the mantelpiece and lighted it. "I cannot
work without smoking," she said; "what are you going to say?"
He looked at her in astonishment. "I do not know; I came here to
find that out."
She replied: "I will manage it all right. I will make the sauce but
I must have the dish." She questioned him in detail and finally said:
"Now, we will begin. First of all we will suppose that you are
addressing a friend, which will allow us scope for remarks of all
kinds. Begin this way: 'My dear Henry, you wish to know something
about Algeria; you shall.'"
Then followed a brilliantly worded description of Algeria and of
the port of Algiers, an excursion to the province of Oran, a visit to
Saida, and an adventure with a pretty Spanish maid employed in a
When the article was concluded, he could find no words of thanks;
he was happy to be near her, grateful for and delighted with their
growing intimacy. It seemed to him that everything about him was a
part of her, even to the books upon the shelves. The chairs, the
furniture, the airall were permeated with that delightful fragrance
peculiar to her.
She asked bluntly: "What do you think of my friend Mme. de
"I think her very fascinating," he said; and he would have liked to
add: "But not as much so as you." He had not the courage to do so.
She continued: "If you only knew how comical, original, and
intelligent she is! She is a true Bohemian. It is for that reason
that her husband no longer loves her. He only sees her defects and
none of her good qualities."
Duroy was surprised to hear that Mme. de Marelle was married.
"What," he asked, "is she married? What does her husband do?"
Mme. Forestier shrugged her shoulders. "Oh, he is superintendent of
a railroad. He is in Paris a week out of each month. His wife calls
it 'Holy Week.' or 'The week of duty.' When you get better acquainted
with her, you will see how witty she is! Come here and see her some
As she spoke, the door opened noiselessly, and a gentleman entered
unannounced. He halted on seeing a man. For a moment Mme. Forestier
seemed confused; then she said in a natural voice, though her cheeks
were tinged with a blush:
"Come in, my dear sir; allow me to present to you an old comrade of
Charles, M. Georges Duroy, a future journalist." Then in a different
tone, she said: "Our best and dearest friend, Count de Vaudrec."
The two men bowed, gazed into one another's eyes, and then Duroy
took his leave. Neither tried to detain him.
On reaching the street he felt sad and uncomfortable. Count de
Vaudrec's face was constantly before him. It seemed to him that the
man was displeased at finding him tete-a-tete with Mme. Forestier,
though why he should be, he could not divine.
To while away the time until three o'clock, he lunched at Duval's,
and then lounged along the boulevard. When the clock chimed the hour
of his appointment, he climbed the stairs leading to the office of
"La Vie Francaise."
Duroy asked: "Is M. Walter in?"
"M. Walter is engaged," was the reply. "Will you please take a
Duroy waited twenty minutes, then he turned to the clerk and said:
"M. Walter had an appointment with me at three o'clock. At any rate,
see if my friend M. Forestier is here."
He was conducted along a corridor and ushered into a large room in
which four men were writing at a table. Forestier was standing before
the fireplace, smoking a cigarette. After listening to Duroy's story
"Come with me; I will take you to M. Walter, or else you might
remain here until seven o'clock."
They entered the manager's room. Norbert de Varenne was writing an
article, seated in an easychair; Jacques Rival, stretched upon a
divan, was smoking a cigar. The room had the peculiar odor familiar
to all journalists. When they approached M. Walter, Forestier said:
"Here is my friend Duroy."
The manager looked keenly at the young man and asked:
"Have you brought my article?"
Duroy drew the sheets of manuscript from his pocket.
"Here they are, Monsieur."
The manager seemed delighted and said with a smile: "Very good. You
are a man of your word. Need I look over it, Forestier?"
But Forestier hastened to reply: "It is not necessary, M. Walter; I
helped him in order to initiate him into the profession. It is very
good." Then bending toward him, he whispered: "You know you promised
to engage Duroy to replace Marambot. Will you allow me to retain him
on the same terms?"
Taking his friend's arm, the journalist drew him away, while M.
Walter returned to the game of ecarte he had been engaged in when
they entered. Forestier and Duroy returned to the room in which
Georges had found his friend. The latter said to his new reporter:
"You must come here every day at three o'clock, and I will tell you
what places to go to. First of all, I shall give you a letter of
introduction to the chief of the police, who will in turn introduce
you to one of his employees. You can arrange with him for all
important news, official and semiofficial. For details you can apply
to Saint-Potin, who is posted; you will see him to-morrow. Above all,
you must learn to make your way everywhere in spite of closed doors.
You will receive two hundred francs a months, two sous a line for
original matter, and two sous a line for articles you are ordered to
write on different subjects."
"What shall I do to-day?" asked Duroy.
"I have no work for you to-day; you can go if you wish to."
"And ourour article?"
"Oh, do not worry about it; I will correct the proofs. Do the rest
to-morrow and come here at three o'clock as you did to-day."
And after shaking hands, Duroy descended the staircase with a light
CHAPTER IV. DUROY LEARNS SOMETHING
Georges Duroy did not sleep well, so anxious was he to see his
article in print. He rose at daybreak, and was on the street long
before the newsboys. When he secured a paper and saw his name at the
end of a column in large letters, he became very much excited. He
felt inclined to enact the part of a newsboy and cry out to the
hurrying throng: "Buy this! it contains an article by me!" He
strolled along to a cafe and seated himself in order to read the
article through; that done he decided to go to the railroad office,
draw his salary, and hand in his resignation.
With great pomposity he informed the chief clerk that he was on the
staff of "La Vie Francaise," and by that means was avenged for many
petty insults which had been offered him. He then had some cards
written with his new calling beneath his name, made several
purchases, and repaired to the office of "La Vie Francaise."
Forestier received him loftily as one would an inferior.
"Ah, here you are! Very well; I have several things for you to do.
Just wait ten minutes till I finish this work." He continued writing.
At the other end of the table sat a short, pale man, very stout and
bald. Forestier asked him, when his letter was completed, "Saint-
Potin, at what time shall you interview those people?"
"At four o'clock."
"Take Duroy, who is here, with you and initiate him into the
Then turning to his friend, Forestier added: "Have you brought the
other paper on Algeria? The article this morning was very
Duroy stammered: "No, I thought I should have time this afternoon.
I had so much to doI could not."
The other shrugged his shoulders. "If you are not more careful, you
will spoil your future. M. Walter counted on your copy. I will tell
him it will be ready to-morrow. If you think you will be paid for
doing nothing, you are mistaken." After a pause, he added: "You
should strike while the iron is hot."
Saint-Potin rose: "I am ready," said he.
Forestier turned around in his chair and said, to Duroy: "Listen.
The Chinese general Li-Theng-Fao, stopping at the Continental, and
Rajah Taposahib Ramaderao Pali, stopping at Hotel Bishop, have been
in Paris two days. You must interview them." Addressing Saint-Potin,
he said: "Do not forget the principal points I indicated to you. Ask
the general and the rajah their opinions on the dealings of England
in the extreme East, their ideas of their system of colonization and
government, their hopes relative to the intervention of Europe and of
France in particular." To Duroy he said: "Observe what Saint- Potin
says; he is an excellent reporter, and try to learn how to draw out a
man in five minutes." Then he resumed his work.
The two men walked down the boulevard together, while Saint-Potin
gave Duroy a sketch of all the officials connected with the paper,
sparing no one in his criticism. When he mentioned Forestier, he
said: "As for him, he was fortunate in marrying his wife."
Duroy asked: "What about his wife?"
Saint-Potin rubbed his hands. "Oh, she is beloved by an old fellow
named Vaudreche dotes upon her."
Duroy felt as if he would like to box Saint-Potin's ears. To change
the subject he said: "It seems to me that it is late, and we have two
noble lords to call upon!"
Saint-Potin laughed: "You are very innocent! Do you think that I am
going to interview that Chinese and that Indian? As if I did not know
better than they do what they should think to please the readers of
'La Vie Francaise'! I have interviewed five hundred Chinese,
Prussians, Hindoos, Chilians, and Japanese. They all say the same
thing. I need only copy my article on the last comer, word for word,
changing the heading, names, titles, and ages: in that there must be
no error, or I shall be hauled over the coals by the 'Figaro' or
'Gaulois.' But on that subject the porter of the hotels will post me
in five minutes. We will smoke our cigars and stroll in that
direction. Totalone hundred sous for cabfare. That is the way, my
When they arrived at the Madeleine, Saint-Potin said to his
companion: "If you have anything to do, I do not need you."
Duroy shook hands with him and walked away. The thought of the
article he had to write that evening haunted him. Mentally he
collected the material as he wended his way to the cafe at which he
dined. Then he returned home and seated himself at his table to work.
Before his eyes was the sheet of blank paper, but all the material he
had amassed had escaped him. After trying for an hour, and after
filling five pages with sentences which had no connection one with the
other, he said: "I am not yet familiar with the work. I must take
At ten o'clock the following morning he rang the bell, at his
friend's house. The servant who opened the door, said: "Monsieur is
Duroy had not expected to find Forestier at home. However he said:
"Tell him it is M. Duroy on important business."
In the course of five minutes he was ushered into the room in which
he had spent so happy a morning. In the place Mme. Forestier had
occupied, her husband was seated writing, while Mme. Forestier stood
by the mantelpiece and dictated to him, a cigarette between her lips.
Duroy paused upon the threshold and murmured: "I beg your pardon, I
am interrupting you."
His friend growled angrily: "What do you want again? Make haste; we
Georges stammered: "It is nothing."
But Forestier persisted: "Come, we are losing time; you did not
force your way into the house for the pleasure of bidding us good
Duroy, in confusion, replied: "No, it is this: I cannot complete my
article, and you weresoso kind the last time that I hopedthat I
dared to come"
Forestier interrupted with: "So you think I will do your work and
that you have only to take the money. Well, that is fine!" His wife
smoked on without interfering.
Duroy hesitated: "Excuse me. I believedIthought" Then, in a
clear voice, he said: "I beg a thousand pardons, Madame, and thank
you very much for the charming article you wrote for me yesterday."
Then he bowed, and said to Charles: "I will be at the office at three
He returned home saying to himself: "Very well, I will write it
alone and they shall see." Scarcely had he entered than he began to
write, anger spurring him on. In an hour he had finished an article,
which was a chaos of absurd matter, and took it boldly to the office.
Duroy handed Forestier his manuscript. "Here is the rest of Algeria."
"Very well, I will hand it to the manager. That will do."
When Duroy and Saint-Potin, who had some political information to
look up, were in the hall, the latter asked: "Have you been to the
"Why? To get your pay? You should always get your salary a month in
advance. One cannot tell what might happen. I will introduce you to
Duroy drew his two hundred francs together with twenty-eight francs
for his article of the preceding day, which, in addition to what
remained to him of his salary from the railroad office, left him
three hundred and forty francs. He had never had so much, and he
thought himself rich for an indefinite time. Saint-Potin took him to
the offices of four or five rival papers, hoping that the news he had
been commissioned to obtain had been already received by them and that
he could obtain it by means of his diplomacy.
When evening came, Duroy, who had nothing more to do, turned toward
the Folies-Bergeres, and walking up to the office, he said: "My name
is Georges Duroy. I am on the staff of 'La Vie Francaise.' I was here
the other night with M. Forestier, who promised to get me a pass. I do
not know if he remembered it."
The register was consulted, but his name was not inscribed upon it.
However, the cashier, a very affable man, said to him: "Come in, M.
Duroy, and speak to the manager yourself; he will see that everything
is all right."
He entered and almost at once came upon Rachel, the woman he had
seen there before. She approached him: "Good evening, my dear; are
"Very well; how are you?"
"I am not ill. I have dreamed of you twice since the other night."
Duroy smiled. "What does that mean?"
"That means that I like you"; she raised her eyes to the young
man's face, took his arm and leaning upon it, said: "Let us drink a
glass of wine and then take a walk. I should like to go to the opera
like this, with you, to show you off."
* * * * * * *
At daybreak he again sallied forth to obtain a "Vie Francaise." He
opened the paper feverishly; his article was not there. On entering
the office several hours later, he said to M. Walter: "I was very
much surprised this morning not to see my second article on Algeria."
The manager raised his head and said sharply: "I gave it to your
friend, Forestier, and asked him to read it; he was dissatisfied with
it; it will have to be done over."
Without a word, Duroy left the room, and entering his friend's
office, brusquely asked: "Why did not my article appear this
The journalist, who was smoking a cigar, said calmly: "The manager
did not consider it good, and bade me return it to you to be revised.
There it is." Duroy revised it several times, only to have it
rejected. He said nothing more of his "souvenirs," but gave his whole
attention to reporting. He became acquainted behind the scenes at the
theaters, and in the halls and corridors of the chamber of deputies;
he knew all the cabinet ministers, generals, police agents, princes,
ambassadors, men of the world, Greeks, cabmen, waiters at cafes, and
many others. In short he soon became a remarkable reporter, of great
value to the paper, so M. Walter said. But as he only received ten
centimes a line in addition to his fixed salary of two hundred francs
and as his expenses were large, he never had a sou. When he saw
certain of his associates with their pockets full of money, he
wondered what secret means they employed in order to obtain it. He
determined to penetrate that mystery, to enter into the association,
to obtrude himself upon his comrades, and make them share with him.
Often at evening, as he watched the trains pass his window, he dreamed
of the conduct he might pursue.
CHAPTER V. THE FIRST INTRIGUE
Two months elapsed. It was September. The fortune which Duroy had
hoped to make so rapidly seemed to him slow in coming. Above all he
was dissatisfied with the mediocrity of his position; he was
appreciated, but was treated according to his rank. Forestier himself
no longer invited him to dinner, and treated him as an inferior. Often
he had thought of making Mme. Forestier a visit, but the remembrance
of their last meeting restrained him. Mme. de Marelle had invited him
to call, saying: "I am always at home about three o'clock." So one
afternoon, when he had nothing to do, he proceeded toward her house.
She lived on Rue Verneuil, on the fourth floor. A maid answered his
summons, and said: "Yes, Madame is at home, but I do not know whether
she has risen." She conducted Duroy into the drawing-room, which was
large, poorly furnished, and somewhat untidy. The shabby, threadbare
chairs were ranged along the walls according to the servant's fancy,
for there was not a trace visible of the care of a woman who loves her
home. Duroy took a seat and waited some time. Then a door opened and
Mme. de Marelle entered hastily, clad in a Japanese dressing-gown. She
"How kind of you to come to see me. I was positive you had
forgotten me." She held out her hand to him with a gesture of delight;
and Duroy, quite at his ease in that shabby apartment, kissed it as he
had seen Norbert de Varenne do.
Examining him from head to foot, she cried: "How you have changed!
Well; tell me the news."
They began to chat at once as if they were old acquaintances, and
in five minutes an intimacy, a mutual understanding, was established
between those two beings alike in character and kind. Suddenly the
young woman said in surprise: "It is astonishing how I feel with you.
It seems to me as if I had known you ten years. We shall undoubtedly
become good friends; would that please you?"
He replied: "Certainly," with a smile more expressive than words.
He thought her very bewitching in her pretty gown. When near Mme.
Forestier, whose impassive, gracious smile attracted yet held at a
distance, and seemed to say: "I like you, yet take care," he felt a
desire to cast himself at her feet, or to kiss the hem of her
garment. When near Mme. de Marelle, he felt a more passionate desire.
A gentle rap came at the door through which Mme. de Marelle had
entered, and she cried: "You may come in, my darling."
The child entered, advanced to Duroy and offered him her hand. The
astonished mother murmured: "That is a conquest." The young man,
having kissed the child, seated her by his side, and with a serious
air questioned her as to what she had done since they last met. She
replied in a flute-like voice and with the manner of a woman. The
clock struck three; the journalist rose.
"Come often," said Mme. de Marelle; "it has been a pleasant
causerie. I shall always be glad to welcome you. Why do I never meet
you at the Forestiers?"
"For no particular reason. I am very busy. I hope, however, that we
shall meet there one of these days."
In the course of a few days he paid another visit to the
enchantress. The maid ushered him into the drawing-room and Laurine
soon entered; she offered him not her hand but her forehead, and
said: "Mamma wishes me to ask you to wait for her about fifteen
minutes, for she is not dressed. I will keep you company."
Duroy, who was amused at the child's ceremonious manner, replied:
"Indeed, Mademoiselle, I shall be enchanted to spend a quarter of an
hour with you." When the mother entered they were in the midst of an
exciting game, and Mme. de Marelle paused in amazement, crying:
"Laurine playing? You are a sorcerer, sir!" He placed the child, whom
he had caught in his arms, upon the floor, kissed the lady's hand, and
they seated themselves, the child between them. They tried to
converse, but Laurine, usually so silent, monopolized the
conversation, and her mother was compelled to send her to her room.
When they were alone, Mme. de Marelle lowered her voice and said:
"I have a great project. It is this: As I dine every week at the
Foresters', I return it from time to time by inviting them to a
restaurant. I do not like to have company at home; I am not so
situated that I can have any. I know nothing about housekeeping or
cooking. I prefer a life free from care; therefore I invite them to
the cafe occasionally; but it is not lively when we are only three. I
am telling you this in order to explain such an informal gathering. I
should like you to be present at our Saturdays at the Cafe Riche at
seven-thirty. Do you know the house?"
Duroy accepted gladly. He left her in a transport of delight and
impatiently awaited the day of the dinner. He was the first to arrive
at the place appointed and was shown into a small private room, in
which the table was laid for four; that table looked very inviting
with its colored glasses, silver, and candelabra.
Duroy seated himself upon a low bench. Forestier entered and shook
hands with him with a cordiality he never evinced at the office.
"The two ladies will come together," said he. "These dinners are
Very soon the door opened and Mesdames Forestier and De Marelle
appeared, heavily veiled, surrounded by the charming mystery
necessary to a rendezvous in a place so public. As Duroy greeted the
former, she took him to task for not having been to see her; then she
added with a smile: "Ah, you prefer Mme. de Marelle; the time passes
more pleasantly with her."
When the waiter handed the wine-list to Forestier, Mme. de Marelle
exclaimed: "Bring the gentle-men whatever they want; as for us, we
want nothing but champagne."
Forestier, who seemed not to have heard her, asked: "Do you object
to my closing the window? My cough has troubled me for several days."
"Not at all."
His wife did not speak. The various courses were duly served and
then the guests began to chat. They discussed a scandal which was
being circulated about a society belle. Forestier was very much
amused by it. Duroy said with a smile: "How many would abandon
themselves to a caprice, a dream of love, if they did not fear that
they would pay for a brief happiness with tears and an irremediable
Both women glanced at him approvingly. Forestier cried with a
sceptical laugh: "The poor husbands!" Then they talked of love. Duroy
said: "When I love a woman, everything else in the world is
Mme. Forestier murmured:, "There is no happiness comparable to that
first clasp of the hand, when one asks: 'Do you love me?' and the
other replies: 'Yes, I love you.'" Mme. de Marelle cried gaily as she
drank a glass of champagne: "I am less Platonic."
Forestier, lying upon the couch, said in serious tone: "That
frankness does you honor and proves you to be a practical woman. But
might one ask, what is M. de Marelle's opinion?"
She shrugged her shoulders disdainfully and said: "M. de Marelle
has no opinion on that subject."
The conversation grew slow. Mme. de Marelle seemed to offer
provocation by her remarks, while Mme. Forestier's charming reserve,
the modesty in her voice, in her smile, all seemed to extenuate the
bold sallies which issued from her lips. The dessert came and then
followed the coffee. The hostess and her guests lighted cigarettes,
but Forestier suddenly began to cough. When the attack was over, he
growled angrily: "These parties are not good for me; they are stupid.
Let us go home."
Mme. de Marelle summoned the waiter and asked for her bill. She
tried to read it, but the figures danced before her eyes; she handed
the paper to Duroy.
"Here, pay it for me; I cannot see." At the same time, she put her
purse in his hand.
The total was one hundred and thirty francs. Duroy glanced at the
bill and when it was settled, whispered: "How much shall I give the
"Whatever you like; I do not know."
He laid five francs upon the plate and handed the purse to its
owner, saying: "Shall I escort you home?"
"Certainly; I am unable to find the house."
They shook hands with the Forestiers and were soon rolling along in
a cab side by side. Duroy could think of nothing to say; he felt
impelled to clasp her in his arms. "If I should dare, what would she
do?" thought he. The recollection of their conversation at dinner
emboldened, but the fear of scandal restrained him. Mme. de Marelle
reclined silently in her corner. He would have thought her asleep,
had he not seen her eyes glisten whenever a ray of light penetrated
the dark recesses of the carriage. Of what was she thinking? Suddenly
she moved her foot, nervously, impatiently. That movement caused him
to tremble, and turning quickly, he cast himself upon her, seeking her
lips with his. She uttered a cry, attempted to repulse him and then
yielded to his caresses as if she had not the strength to resist.
The carriage stopped at her door, but she did not rise; she did not
move, stunned by what had just taken place. Fearing that the cabman
would mistrust something, Duroy alighted from the cab first and
offered his hand to the young woman. Finally she got out, but in
silence. Georges rang the bell, and when the door was opened, he
asked timidly: "When shall I see you again?"
She whispered so low that he could barely hear her: "Come and lunch
with me to-morrow." With those words she disappeared.
Duroy gave the cabman a five-franc piece, and turned away with a
triumphant, joyful air. He had at last conquered a married woman! A
woman of the world! A Parisian! How easy it had been!
He was somewhat nervous the following day as he ascended Mme. de
Marelle's staircase. How would she receive him? Suppose she forbade
him to enter her house? If she had toldbut no, she could not tell
anything without telling the whole truth! He was master of the
The little maid-servant opened the door. She was as pleasant as
usual. Duroy felt reassured and asked: "Is Madame well?"
"Yes, sir; as well as she always is," was the reply, and he was
ushered into the salon. He walked to the mantelpiece to see what kind
of an appearance he presented: he was readjusting his cravat when he
saw in the mirror the young woman standing on the threshold looking at
him. He pretended not to have seen her, and for several moments they
gazed at one another in the mirror. Then he turned. She had not moved;
she seemed to be waiting. He rushed toward her crying: "How I love
you!" He clasped her to his breast. He thought: "It is easier than I
thought it would be. All is well." He looked at her with a smile,
without uttering a word, trying to put into his glance a wealth of
love. She too smiled and murmured: "We are alone. I sent Laurine to
lunch with a friend."
He sighed, and kissing her wrists said: "Thanks; I adore you." She
took his arm as if he had been her husband, and led him to a couch,
upon which they seated themselves side by side. Duroy stammered,
incoherently: "You do not care for me."
She laid her hand upon his lips. "Be silent!"
"How I love you!" said he.
She repeated: "Be silent!"
They could hear the servant laying the table in the dining-room. He
rose: "I cannot sit so near you. I shall lose my head."
The door opened: "Madame is served!"
He offered her his arm gravely. They lunched without knowing what
they were eating. The servant came and went without seeming to notice
anything. When the meal was finished, they returned to the
drawing-room and resumed their seats on the couch side by side.
Gradually he drew nearer her and tried to embrace her.
"Be careful, some one might come in."
He whispered: "When can I see you alone to tell you how I love
She leaned toward him and said softly: "I will pay you a visit one
of these days."
He colored. "My roomsarearevery modest."
She smiled: "That makes no difference. I shall come to see you and
not your rooms."
He urged her to tell him when she would come. She fixed a day in
the following week, while he besought her with glowing eyes to hasten
the day. She was amused to see him implore so ardently and yielded a
day at a time. He repeated: "To-morrow, sayto-morrow." Finally she
consented. "Yes, to-morrow at five o'clock."
He drew a deep breath; then they chatted together as calmly as if
they had known one another for twenty years. A ring caused them to
start; they separated. She murmured: "It is Laurine."
The child entered, paused in surprise, then ran toward Duroy
clapping her hands, delighted to see him, and crying: "Ah, 'Bel-
Mme. de Marelle laughed. "Bel-Ami! Laurine has christened you. It
is a pretty name. I shall call you Bel-Ami, too!"
He took the child upon his knee. At twenty minutes of three he rose
to go to the office; at the half-open door he whispered: "To-morrow,
five o'clock." The young woman replied: "Yes," with a smile and
After he had finished his journalistic work, he tried to render his
apartments more fit to receive his expected visitor. He was well
satisfied with the results of his efforts and retired, lulled to rest
by the whistling of the trains. Early the next morning he bought a
cake and a bottle of Madeira. He spread the collation on his
dressing-table which was covered with a napkin. Then he waited. She
came at a quarter past five and exclaimed as she entered: "Why, it is
nice here. But there were a great many people on the stairs."
He took her in his arms and kissed her hair. An hour and a half
later he escorted her to a cab-stand on the Rue de Rome. When she was
seated in the cab, he whispered: "Tuesday, at the same hour."
She repeated his words, and as it was night, she kissed him. Then
as the cabman started up his horse, she cried:" Adieu, Bel-Ami!" and
the old coupe rumbled off.
For three weeks Duroy received Mme. de Marelle every two or three
days, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening.
As he was awaiting her one afternoon, a noise on the staircase drew
him to his door. A child screamed. A man's angry voice cried: "What
is the brat howling about?"
A woman's voice replied: "Nicolas has been tripped up on the
landing-place by the journalist's sweetheart."
Duroy retreated, for he heard the rustling of skirts. Soon there
was a knock at his door, which he opened, and Mme. de Marelle rushed
in, crying: "Did you hear?" Georges feigned ignorance of the matter.
"How they insulted me?"
"Those miserable people below."
"Why, no; what is it? Tell me."
She sobbed and could not speak. He was forced to place her upon his
bed and to lay a damp cloth upon her temples. When she grew calmer,
anger succeeded her agitation. She wanted Duroy to go downstairs at
once, to fight them, to kill them.
He replied: "They are working-people. Just think, it would be
necessary to go to court where you would be recognized; one must not
compromise oneself with such people."
She said: "What shall we do? I cannot come here again."
He replied: "That is very simple. I will move."
She murmured: "Yes, but that will take some time."
Suddenly she said: "Listen to me, I have found a means; do not
worry about it. I will send you a 'little blue' to-morrow morning."
She called a telegram a "little blue."
She smiled with delight at her plans, which she would not reveal.
She was, however, very much affected as she descended the staircase
and leaned with all her strength upon her lover's arm. They met no
He was still in bed the following morning when the promised
telegram was handed him. Duroy opened it and read:
"Come at five o'clock to Rue de Constantinople, No. 127. Ask
for the room rented by Mme. Duroy. CLO."
At five o'clock precisely he entered a large furnished house and
asked the janitor: "Has Mme. Duroy hired a room here?"
"Will you show me to it, if you please?"
The man, accustomed no doubt to situations in which it was
necessary to be prudent, looked him straight in the eyes; then
selecting a key, he asked: "Are you M. Duroy?"
He opened a small suite, comprising two rooms on the ground floor.
Duroy thought uneasily: "This will cost a fortune. I shall have to
run into debt. She has done a very foolish thing."
The door opened and Clotilde rushed in. She was enchanted. "Is it
not fine? There are no stairs to climb; it is on the ground floor!
One could come and go through the window without the porter seeing
He embraced her nervously, not daring to ask the question that
hovered upon his lips. She had placed a large package on the stand in
the center of the room. Opening it she took out a tablet of soap, a
bottle of Lubin's extract, a sponge, a box of hairpins, a button-
hook, and curling-tongs. Then she amused herself by finding places in
which to put them.
She talked incessantly as she opened the drawers: "I must bring
some linen in order to have a change. We shall each have a key,
besides the one at the lodge, in case we should forget ours. I rented
the apartments for three monthsin your name, of course, for I could
not give mine."
Then he asked: "Will you tell me when to pay?"
She replied simply: "It is paid, my dear."
He made a pretense of being angry: "I cannot permit that."
She laid her hand upon his shoulder and said in a supplicatory
tone: "Georges, it will give me pleasure to have the nest mine. Say
that you do not care, dear Georges," and he yielded. When she had left
him, he murmured: "She is kind-hearted, anyway."
Several days later he received a telegram which read:
"My husband is coming home this evening. We shall therefore not
meet for a week. What a bore, my dearest!"
Duroy was startled; he had not realized the fact that Mme. de
Marelle was married. He impatiently awaited her husband's departure.
One morning he received the following telegram:
When they met, she rushed into his arms, kissed him passionately,
and asked: "After a while will you take me to dine?"
"Certainly, my darling, wherever you wish to go."
"I should like to go to some restaurant frequented by the working-
They repaired to a wine merchant's where meals were also served.
Clotilde's entrance caused a sensation on account of the elegance of
her dress. They partook of a ragout of mutton and left that place to
enter a ball-room in which she pressed more closely to his side. In
fifteen minutes her curiosity was satisfied and he conducted her
home. Then followed a series of visits to all sorts of places of
amusement. Duroy soon began to tire of those expeditions, for he had
exhausted all his resources and all means of obtaining money. In
addition to that he owed Forestier a hundred francs, Jacques Rival
three hundred, and he was hampered with innumerable petty debts
ranging from twenty francs to one hundred sous.
On the fourteenth of December, he was left without a sou in his
pocket. As he had often done before, he did not lunch, and spent the
afternoon working at the office. At four o'clock he received a
telegram from Mme. de Marelle, saying: "Shall we dine together and
afterward have a frolic?"
He replied at once: "Impossible to dine," then he added: "But I
will expect you at our apartments at nine o'clock." Having sent a boy
with the note in order to save the money for a telegram, he tried to
think of some way by which he could obtain his evening meal. He
waited until all of his associates had gone and when he was alone, he
rang for the porter, put his hand in his pocket and said: "Foucart, I
have left my purse at home and I have to dine at the Luxembourg. Lend
me fifty sous to pay for my cab."
The man handed him three francs and asked:
"Is that enough?"
"Yes, thank you." Taking the coins, Duroy rushed down the staircase
and dined at a cookshop.
At nine o'clock, Mme. de Marelle, whom he awaited in the tiny
salon, arrived. She wished to take a walk and he objected. His
opposition irritated her.
"I shall go alone, then. Adieu!"
Seeing that the situation was becoming grave, he seized her hands
and kissed them, saying:
"Pardon me, darling; I am nervous and out of sorts this evening. I
have been annoyed by business matters."
Somewhat appeased but still, vexed, she replied:
"That does not concern me; I will not be the butt for your ill
He clasped her in his arms and murmured his apologies. Still she
persisted in her desire to go out.
"I beseech you, remain here by the fire with me. Say yes."
"No," she replied, "I will not yield to your caprices."
He insisted: "I have a reason, a serious reason"
"If you will not go with me, I shall go alone. Adieu!"
She disengaged herself from his embrace and fled to the door. He
"Listen Clo, my little Clo, listen to me"
She shook her head, evaded his caresses and tried to escape from
his encircling arms.
"I have a reason"
Looking him in the face, she said: "You lie! What is it?"
He colored, and in order to avoid a rupture, confessed in accents
of despair: "I have no money!"
She would not believe him until he had turned all his pockets
inside out, to prove his words. Then she fell upon his breast: "Oh, my
poor darling! Had I known! How did it happen?"
He invented a touching story to this effect: That his father was in
straitened circumstances, that he had given him not only his savings,
but had run himself into debt.
"I shall have to starve for the next six months."
"Shall I lend you some?" she whispered.
He replied with dignity: "You are very kind, dearest; but do not
mention that again; it wounds me."
She murmured: "You will never know how much I love you." On taking
leave of him, she asked: "Shall we meet again the day after to-
"At the same time?"
"Yes, my darling."
When Duroy opened his bedroom door and fumbled in his vest pocket
for a match, he was amazed to find in it a piece of moneya twenty-
franc piece! At first he wondered by what miracle it had got there;
suddenly it occurred to him that Mme. de Marelle had given him alms!
Angry and humiliated, he determined to return it when next they met.
The next morning it was late when he awoke; he tried to overcome his
hunger. He went out and as he passed the restaurants he could
scarcely resist their temptations. At noon he said: "Bah, I shall
lunch upon Clotilde's twenty francs; that will not hinder me from
returning the money to-morrow."
He ate his lunch, for which he paid two francs fifty, and on
entering the office of "La Vie Francaise" he repaid the porter the
three francs he had borrowed from him. He worked until seven o'clock,
then he dined, and he continued to draw upon the twenty francs until
only four francs twenty remained. He decided to say to Mme. de Marelle
upon her arrival:
"I found the twenty-franc piece you slipped into my pocket. I will
not return the money to-day, but I will repay you when we next meet."
When Madame came, he dared not broach the delicate subject. They
spent the evening together and appointed their next meeting for
Wednesday of the following week, for Mme. de Marelle had a number of
engagements. Duroy continued to accept money from Clotilde and
quieted his conscience by assuring himself: "I will give it back in a
lump. It is nothing but borrowed money anyway." So he kept account of
all that he received in order to pay it back some day.
One evening, Mme. de Marelle said to him: "Would you believe that I
have never been to the Folies-Bergeres; will you take me there?"
He hesitated, fearing a meeting with Rachel. Then he thought: "Bah,
I am not married after all. If she should see me, she would take in
the situation and not accost me. Moreover, we would have a box."
When they entered the hall, it was crowded; with difficulty they
made their way to their seats. Mme. de Marelle did not look at the
stage; she was interested in watching the women who were promenading,
and she felt an irresistible desire to touch them, to see of what
those beings were made. Suddenly she said:
"There is a large brunette who stares at us all the time. I think
every minute she will speak to us. Have you seen her?"
He replied: "No, you are mistaken."
He told an untruth, for he had noticed the woman, who was no other
than Rachel, with anger in her eyes and violent words upon her lips.
Duroy had passed her when he and Mme. de Marelle entered and she
had said to him: "Good evening," in a low voice and with a wink which
said "I understand." But he had not replied; for fear of being seen
by his sweetheart he passed her coldly, disdainfully. The woman, her
jealousy aroused, followed the couple and said in a louder key: "Good
evening, Georges." He paid no heed to her. Then she was determined to
be recognized and she remained near their box, awaiting a favorable
moment. When she saw that she was observed by Mme. de Marelle, she
touched Duroy's shoulder with the tip of her finger, and said:
"Good evening. How are you?"
But Georges did not turn his head.
She continued: "Have you grown deaf since Thursday?"
Still he did not reply. She laughed angrily and cried:
"Are you dumb, too? Perhaps Madame has your tongue?"
With a furious glance, Duroy then exclaimed:
"How dare you accost me? Go along or I will have you arrested."
With flaming eyes, she cried: "Ah, is that so! Because you are with
another is no reason that you cannot recognize me. If you had made
the least sign of recognition when you passed me, I would not have
molested you. You did not even say good evening to me when you met
During that tirade Mme. de Marelle in affright opened the door of
the box and fled through the crowd seeking an exit. Duroy rushed
after her. Rachel, seeing him disappear, cried: "Stop her! she has
stolen my lover!"
Two men seized the fugitive by the shoulder, but Duroy, who had
caught up with her, bade them desist, and together he and Clotilde
reached the street.
They entered a cab. The cabman asked: "Where shall I drive to?"
Duroy replied: "Where you will!"
Clotilde sobbed hysterically. Duroy did not know what to say or do.
At length he stammered:
"Listen Clomy dearest Clo, let me explain. It is not my fault. I
knew that womanlong ago"
She raised her head and with the fury of a betrayed woman, she
cried disconnectedly: "Ah, you miserable fellowwhat a rascal you
are! Is it possible? What disgrace, oh, my God! You gave her my
moneydid you not? I gave him the moneyfor that womanoh, the
For several moments she seemed to be vainly seeking an epithet more
forcible. Suddenly leaning forward she grasped the cabman's sleeve.
"Stop!" she cried, and opening the door, she alighted. Georges was
about to follow her but she commanded: "I forbid you to follow me,"
in a voice so loud that the passers-by crowded around her, and Duroy
dared not stir for fear of a scandal.
She drew out her purse, and taking two francs fifty from it, she
handed it to the cabman, saying aloud: "Here is the money for your
hour. Take that rascal to Rue Boursault at Batignolles!"
The crowd applauded; one man said: "Bravo, little one!" and the cab
moved on, followed by the jeers of the bystanders.
CHAPTER VI. A STEP UPWARD
The next morning Georges Duroy arose, dressed himself, and
determined to have money; he sought Forestier. His friend received
him in his study.
"What made you rise so early?" he asked.
"A very serious matter. I have a debt of honor."
"A gaming debt?"
He hesitated, then repeated: "A gaming debt."
"Is it large?"
"Five hundred francs." He only needed two hundred and eighty.
Forestier asked sceptically: "To whom do you owe that amount?"
Duroy did not reply at once. "TotoaM. de Carleville."
"Ah, where does he live?"
Forestier laughed. "I know the gentleman! If you want twenty francs
you can have them, but no more."
Duroy took the gold-piece, called upon more friends, and by five
o'clock had collected eighty francs. As he required two hundred more,
he kept what he had begged and muttered: "I shall not worry about it.
I will pay it when I can."
For two weeks he lived economically, but at the end of that time,
the good resolutions he had formed vanished, and one evening he
returned to the Folies Bergeres in search of Rachel; but the woman
was implacable and heaped coarse insults upon him, until he felt his
cheeks tingle and he left the hall.
Forestier, out of health and feeble, made Duroy's existence at the
office insupportable. The latter did not reply to his rude remarks,
but determined to be avenged. He called upon Mme. Forestier. He found
her reclining upon a couch, reading. She held out her hand without
rising and said: "Good morning, Bel-Ami!"
"Why do you call me by that name?"
She replied with a smile: "I saw Mme. de Marelle last week and I
know what they have christened you at her house."
He took a seat near his hostess and glanced at her curiously; she
was a charming blonde, fair and plump, made for caresses, and he
thought: "She is certainly nicer than the other one." He did not
doubt that he would only have to extend his hand in order to gather
the fruit. As he gazed upon her she chided him for his neglect of
He replied: "I did not come because it was for the best"
"Why? Can you not guess?"
"Because I loved you; a little, only a little, and I did not wish
to love you any more."
She did not seem surprised, nor flattered; she smiled indifferently
and replied calmly: "Oh, you can come just the same; no one loves me
"Because it is useless, and I tell them so at once. If you had
confessed your fears to me sooner, I would have reassured you. My
dear friend, a man in love is not only foolish but dangerous. I cease
all intercourse with people who love me or pretend to; firstly,
because they bore me, and secondly, because I look upon them with
dread, as I would upon a mad dog. I know that your love is only a kind
of appetite; while with me it would be a communion of souls. Now, look
me in the face" she no longer smiled. "I will never be your
sweetheart; it is therefore useless for you to persist in your
efforts. And now that I have explained, shall we be friends?"
He knew that that sentence was irrevocable, and delighted to be
able to form such an alliance as she proposed, he extended both hands,
"I am yours, Madame, to do with as you will"
He kissed her hands and raising his head said: "If I had found a
woman like you, how gladly would I have married her."
She was touched by those words, and in a soft voice, placing her
hand upon his arm, she said: "I am going to begin my offices at once.
You are not diplomatic" she hesitated. "May I speak freely?"
"Call upon Mme. Walter who has taken a fancy to you. But be guarded
as to your compliments, for she is virtuous. You will make a better
impression there by being careful in your remarks. I know that your
position at the office is unsatisfactory, but do not worry; all their
employees are treated alike."
He said: "Thanks; you are an angela guardian angel."
As he took his leave, he asked again: "Are we friendsis it
Having observed the effect of his last compliment, he said: "If you
ever become a widow, I have put in my application!" Then he left the
room hastily in order not to allow her time to be angry.
Duroy did not like to call on Mme. Walter, for he had never been
invited, and he did not wish to commit a breach of etiquette. The
manager had been kind to him, appreciated his services, employed him
to do difficult work, why should he not profit by that show of favor
to call at his house? One day, therefore, he repaired to the market
and bought twenty-five pears. Having carefully arranged them in a
basket to make them appear as if they came from a distance he took
them to Mme. Walter's door with his card on which was inscribed:
"Georges Duroy begs Mme. Walter to accept the fruit which he
received this morning from Normandy."
The following day he found in his letter-box at the office an
envelope containing Mme, Walter's card on which was written:
"Mme. Walter thanks M. Georges Duroy very much, and is at home
The next Saturday he called. M. Walter lived on Boulevard
Malesherbes in a double house which he owned. The reception-rooms
were on the first floor. In the antechamber were two footmen; one
took Duroy's overcoat, the other his cane, put it aside, opened a
door and announced the visitor's name. In the large mirror in the
apartment Duroy could see the reflection of people seated in another
room. He passed through two drawing-rooms and entered a small boudoir
in which four ladies were gathered around a tea-table. Notwithstanding
the assurance he had gained during his life in Paris, and especially
since he had been thrown in contact with so many noted personages,
Duroy felt abashed. He stammered:
"Madame, I took the liberty."
The mistress of the house extended her hand and said to him: "You
are very kind, M. Duroy, to come to see me." She pointed to a chair.
The ladies chatted on. Visitors came and went. Mme. Walter noticed
that Duroy said nothing, that no one addressed him, that he seemed
disconcerted, and she drew him into the conversation which dealt with
the admission of a certain M. Linet to the Academy. When Duroy had
taken his leave, one of the ladies said: "How odd he is! Who is he?"
Mme. Walter replied: "One of our reporters; he only occupies a
minor position, but I think he will advance rapidly."
In the meantime, while he was being discussed, Duroy walked gaily
down Boulevard Malesherbes.
The following week he was appointed editor of the "Echoes," and
invited to dine at Mme. Walter's. The "Echoes" were, M. Walter said,
the very pith of the paper. Everything and everybody should be
remembered, all countries, all professions, Paris and the provinces,
the army, the arts, the clergy, the schools, the rulers, and the
courtiers. The man at the head of that department should be wide
awake, always on his guard, quick to judge of what was best to be
said and best to be omitted, to divine what would please the public
and to present it well. Duroy was just the man for the place.
He was enjoying the fact of his promotion, when he received an
engraved card which read:
"M. and Mme. Walter request the pleasure of M. Georges Duroy's
company at dinner on Thursday, January 20."
He was so delighted that he kissed the invitation as if it had been
Then he sought the cashier to settle the important question of his
salary. At first twelve hundred francs were allowed Duroy, who
intended to save a large share of the money. He was busy two days
getting settled in his new position, in a large room, one end of
which he occupied, and the other end of which was allotted to
Boisrenard, who worked with him.
The day of the dinner-party he left the office in good season, in
order to have time to dress, and was walking along Rue de Londres
when he saw before him a form which resembled Mme. de Marelle's. He
felt his cheeks glow and his heart throb. He crossed the street in
order to see the lady's face; he was mistaken, and breathed more
freely. He had often wondered what he should do if he met Clotilde
face to face. Should he bow to her or pretend not to see her? "I
should not see her," thought he.
When Duroy entered his rooms he thought: "I must change my
apartments; these will not do any longer." He felt both nervous and
gay, and said aloud to himself: "I must write to my father."
Occasionally he wrote home, and his letters always delighted his old
parents. As he tied his cravat at the mirror he repeated: "I must
write home to-morrow. If my father could see me this evening in the
house to which I am going, he would be surprised. Sacristi, I shall
soon give a dinner which has never been equaled!"
Then he recalled his old home, the faces of his father and mother.
He saw them seated at their homely board, eating their soup. He
remembered every wrinkle on their old faces, every movement of their
hands and heads; he even knew what they said to each other every
evening as they supped. He thought: "I will go to see them some day."
His toilette completed, he extinguished his light and descended the
On reaching his destination, he boldly entered the antechamber,
lighted by bronze lamps, and gave his cane and his overcoat to the
two lackeys who approached him. All the salons were lighted. Mme.
Walter received in the second, the largest. She greeted Duroy with a
charming smile, and he shook hands with two men who arrived after
him, M. Firmin and M. Laroche-Mathieu; the latter had especial
authority at the office on account of his influence in the chamber of
Then the Forestiers arrived, Madeleine looking charming in pink.
Charles had become very much emaciated and coughed incessantly.
Norbert de Varenne and Jacques Rival came together. A door opened
at the end of the room, and M. Walter entered with two tall young
girls of sixteen and seventeen; one plain, the other pretty. Duroy
knew that the manager was a paterfamilias, but he was astonished. He
had thought of the manager's daughters as one thinks of a distant
country one will never see. Then, too, he had fancied them children,
and he saw women. They shook hands upon being introduced and seated
themselves at a table set apart for them. One of the guests had not
arrived, and that embarrassing silence which precedes dinners in
general reigned supreme.
Duroy happening to glance at the walls, M. Walter said: "You are
looking at my pictures? I will show them all to you." And he took a
lamp that they might distinguish all the details. There were
landscapes by Guillemet; "A Visit to the Hospital," by Gervex; "A
Widow," by Bouguereau; "An Execution," by Jean Paul Laurens, and many
Duroy exclaimed: "Charming, charming, char" but stopped short on
hearing behind him the voice of Mme. de Marelle who had just entered.
M. Walter continued to exhibit and explain his pictures; but Duroy saw
nothingheard without comprehending. Mme. de Marelle was there,
behind him. What should he do? If he greeted her, might she not turn
her back upon him or utter some insulting remark? If he did not
approach her, what would people think? He was so ill at ease that at
one time he thought he should feign indisposition and return home.
The pictures had all been exhibited. M. Walter placed the lamp on
the table and greeted the last arrival, while Duroy recommenced alone
an examination of the canvas, as if he could not tear himself away.
What should he do? He heard their voices and their conversation. Mme.
Forestier called him; he hastened toward her. It was to introduce him
to a friend who was on the point of giving a fete, and who wanted a
description of it in "La Vie Francaise."
He stammered: "Certainly, Madame, certainly."
Madame de Marelle was very near him; he dared not turn to go away.
Suddenly to his amazement, she exclaimed: "Good evening, Bel-Ami; do
you not remember me?"
He turned upon his heel hastily; she stood before him smiling, her
eyes overflowing with roguishness and affection. She offered him her
hand; he took it doubtfully, fearing some perfidy. She continued
calmly: "What has become of you? One never sees you!"
Not having regained his self-possession, he murmured: "I have had a
great deal to do, Madame, a great deal to do. M. Walter has given me
another position and the duties are very arduous."
"I know, but that is no excuse for forgetting your friends."
Their conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a large
woman, decollette, with red arms, red cheeks, and attired in gay
colors. As she was received with effusion, Duroy asked Mme. Forestier:
"Who is that person?"
"Viscountess de Percemur, whose nom de plume is 'Patte Blanche.'"
He was surprised and with difficulty restrained a burst of
"Patte Blanche? I fancied her a young woman like you. Is that Patte
Blanche? Ah, she is handsome, very handsome!"
A servant appeared at the door and announced: "Madame is served."
Duroy was placed between the manager's plain daughter, Mlle. Rose,
and Mme. de Marelle. The proximity of the latter embarrassed him
somewhat, although she appeared at ease and conversed with her usual
spirit. Gradually, however, his assurance returned, and before the
meal was over, he knew that their relations would be renewed.
Wishing, too, to be polite to his employer's daughter, he addressed
her from time to time. She responded as her mother would have done,
without any hesitation as to what she should say. At M. Walter's
right sat Viscountess de Percemur, and Duroy, looking at her with a
smile, asked Mme. de Marelle in a low voice: "Do you know the one who
signs herself 'Domino Rose'?"
"Yes, perfectly; Baroness de Livar."
"Is she like the Countess?"
"No. But she is just as comical. She is sixty years old, has false
curls and teeth, wit of the time of the Restoration, and toilettes of
the same period."
When the guests returned to the drawing-room, Duroy asked Mme. de
Marelle: "May I escort you home?"
"Because M. Laroche-Mathieu, who is my neighbor, leaves me at my
door every time that I dine here."
"When shall I see you again?"
"Lunch with me to-morrow."
They parted without another word. Duroy did not remain late; as he
descended the staircase, he met Norbert de Varenne, who was likewise
going away. The old poet took his arm; fearing no rivalry on the
newspaper, their work being essentially different, he was very
friendly to the young man.
"Shall we walk along together?"
"I shall be pleased to," replied Duroy.
The streets were almost deserted that night. At first the two men
did not speak. Then Duroy, in order to make some remark, said: "That
M. Laroche-Mathieu looks very intelligent."
The old poet murmured: "Do you think so?"
The younger man hesitated in surprise: "Why, yes! Is he not
considered one of the most capable men in the Chamber?"
"That may be. In a kingdom of blind men the blind are kings. All
those people are divided between money and politics; they are pedants
to whom it is impossible to speak of anything that is familiar to us.
Ah, it is difficult to find a man who is liberal in his ideas! I have
known several, they are dead. Still, what difference does a little
more or a little less genius make, since all must come to an end?" He
paused, and Duroy said with a smile:
"You are gloomy to-night, sir!"
The poet replied: "I always am, my child; you will be too in a few
years. While one is climbing the ladder, one sees the top and feels
hopeful; but when one has reached that summit, one sees the descent
and the end which is death. It is slow work ascending, but one
descends rapidly. At your age one is joyous; one hopes for many
things which never come to pass. At mine, one expects nothing but
Duroy laughed: "Egad, you make me shudder."
Norbert de Varenne continued: "You do not understand me now, but
later on you will remember what I have told you. We breathe, sleep,
drink, eat, work, and then die! The end of life is death. What do you
long for? Love? A few kisses and you will be powerless. Money? What
for? To gratify your desires. Glory? What comes after it all? Death!
Death alone is certain."
He stopped, took Duroy by his coat collar and said slowly: "Ponder
upon all that, young man; think it over for days, months, and years,
and you will see life from a different standpoint. I am a lonely, old
man. I have neither father, mother, brother, sister, wife, children,
nor God. I have only poetry. Marry, my friend; you do not know what it
is to live alone at my age. It is so lonesome. I seem to have no one
upon earth. When one is old it is a comfort to have children."
When they reached Rue de Bourgogne, the poet halted before a high
house, rang the bell, pressed Duroy's hand and said: "Forget what I
have said to you, young man, and live according to your age. Adieu!"
With those words he disappeared in the dark corridor.
Duroy felt somewhat depressed on leaving Varenne, but on his way a
perfumed damsel passed by him and recalled to his mind his
reconciliation with Mme. de Marelle. How delightful was the
realization of one's hopes!
The next morning he arrived at his lady-love's door somewhat early;
she welcomed him as if there had been no rupture, and said as she
"You do not know how annoyed I am, my beloved; I anticipated a
delightful honeymoon and now my husband has come home for six weeks.
But I could not let so long a time go by without seeing you,
especially after our little disagreement, and this is how I have
arranged matters: Come to dinner Monday. I will introduce you to M.
de Marelle, I have already spoken of you to him."
Duroy hesitated in perplexity; he feared he might betray something
by a word, a glance. He stammered:
"No, I would rather not meet your husband."
"Why not? How absurd! Such things happen every day. I did not think
you so foolish."
"Very well, I will come to dinner Monday."
"To make it more pleasant, I will have the Forestiers, though I do
not like to receive company at home."
On Monday as he ascended Mme. de Marelle's staircase, he felt
strangely troubled; not that he disliked to take her husband's hand,
drink his wine, and eat his bread, but he dreaded something, he knew
not what. He was ushered into the salon and he waited as usual. Then
the door opened, and a tall man with a white beard, grave and
precise, advanced toward him and said courteously:
"My wife has often spoken of you, sir; I am charmed to make your
Duroy tried to appear cordial and shook his host's proffered hand
with exaggerated energy. M. de Marelle put a log upon the fire and
"Have you been engaged in journalism a long time?"
Duroy replied: "Only a few months." His embarrassment wearing off,
he began to consider the situation very amusing. He gazed at M. de
Marelle, serious and dignified, and felt a desire to laugh aloud. At
that moment Mme. de Marelle entered and approached Duroy, who in the
presence of her husband dared not kiss her hand. Laurine entered
next, and offered her brow to Georges. Her mother said to her:
"You do not call M. Duroy Bel-Ami to-day."
The child blushed as if it were a gross indiscretion to reveal her
When the Forestiers arrived, Duroy was startled at Charles's
appearance. He had grown thinner and paler in a week and coughed
incessantly; he said they would leave for Cannes on the following
Thursday at the doctor's orders. They did not stay late; after they
had left, Duroy said, with a shake of his head:
"He will not live long."
Mme. de Marelle replied calmly: "No, he is doomed! He was a lucky
man to obtain such a wife."
Duroy asked: "Does she help him very much?"
"She does all the work; she is well posted on every subject, and
she always gains her point, as she wants it, and when she wants it!
Oh, she is as maneuvering as anyone! She is a treasure to a man who
wishes to succeed."
Georges replied: "She will marry very soon again, I have no doubt."
"Yes! I should not even be surprised if she had some one in viewa
deputy! but I do not know anything about it."
M. de Marelle said impatiently: "You infer so many things that I do
not like! We should never interfere in the affairs of others.
Everyone should make that a rule."
Duroy took his leave with a heavy heart. The next day he called on
the Forestiers, and found them in the midst of packing. Charles lay
upon a sofa and repeated: "I should have gone a month ago." Then he
proceeded to give Duroy innumerable orders, although everything had
been arranged with M. Walter. When Georges left him, he pressed his
comrade's hand and said:
"Well, old fellow, we shall soon meet again."
Mme. Forestier accompanied him to the door and he reminded her of
their compact. "We are friends and allies, are we not? If you should
require my services in any way, do not hesitate to call upon me. Send
me a dispatch or a letter and I will obey."
She murmured: "Thank you, I shall not forget."
As Duroy descended the staircase, he met M. de Vaudrec ascending.
The Count seemed sadperhaps at the approaching departure.
The journalist bowed, the Count returned his salutation courteously
but somewhat haughtily.
On Thursday evening the Forestiers left town.
CHAPTER VII. A DUEL WITH AN END
Charles's absence gave Duroy a more important position on "La Vie
Francaise." Only one matter arose to annoy him, otherwise his sky was
An insignificant paper, "La Plume," attacked him constantly, or
rather attacked the editor of the "Echoes" of "La Vie Francaise."
Jacques Rival said to him one day: "You are very forbearing."
"What should I do? It is no direct attack."
But, one afternoon when he entered the office, Boisrenard handed
him a number of "La Plume."
"See, here is another unpleasant remark for you."
"Relative to what?"
"To the arrest of one Dame Aubert."
Georges took the paper and read a scathing personal denunciation.
Duroy, it seems, had written an item claiming that Dame Aubert who,
as the editor of "La Plume," claimed, had been put under arrest, was
a myth. The latter retaliated by accusing Duroy of receiving bribes
and of suppressing matter that should be published.
As Saint-Potin entered, Duroy asked him: "Have you seen the
paragraph in 'La Plume'?"
"Yes, and I have just come from Dame Aubert's; she is no myth, but
she has not been arrested; that report has no foundation."
Duroy went at once to M. Walter's office. After hearing the case,
the manager bade him go to the woman's house himself, find out the
details, and reply, to the article.
Duroy set out upon his errand and on his return to the office,
wrote the following:
"An anonymous writer in 'La Plume' is trying to pick a quarrel
with me on the subject of an old woman who, he claims, was
arrested for disorderly conduct, which I deny. I have myself
seen Dame Aubert, who is sixty years old at least; she told me
the particulars of her dispute with a butcher as to the weight
of some cutlets, which dispute necessitated an explanation
before a magistrate. That is the whole truth in a nutshell. As
for the other insinuations I scorn them. One never should reply
to such things, moreover, when they are written under a mask.
M. Walter and Jacques Rival considered that sufficient, and it was
decided that it should be published in that day's issue.
Duroy returned home rather agitated and uneasy. What would this
opponent reply? Who was he? Why that attack? He passed a restless
night. When he re-read his article in the paper the next morning, he
thought it more aggressive in print than it was in writing. He might,
it seemed to him, have softened certain terms. He was excited all day
and feverish during-the night. He rose early to obtain an issue of "La
Plume" which should contain the reply to his note. He ran his eyes
over the columns and at first saw nothing. He was beginning to breathe
more freely when these words met his eye:
"M. Duroy of 'La Vie Francaise' gives us the lie! In doing so,
he lies. He owns, however, that a woman named Aubert exists,
and that she was taken before a magistrate by an agent. Two
words only remain to be added to the word 'agent,' which are
'of morals' and all is told. But the consciences of certain
journalists are on a par with their talents."
"I sign myself, Louis Langremont."
Georges's heart throbbed violently, and he returned home in order
to dress himself. He had been insulted and in such a manner that it
was impossible to hesitate. Why had he been insulted? For nothing! On
account of an old woman who had quarreled with her butcher.
He dressed hastily and repaired to M. Walter's house, although it
was scarcely eight o'clock. M. Walter was reading "La Plume."
"Well," he said gravely, on perceiving Duroy, "you cannot let that
pass." The young man did not reply.
The manager continued: "Go at once in search of Rival, who will
look after your interests."
Duroy stammered several vague words and set out for Rival's house.
Jacques was still in bed, but he rose when the bell rang, and having
read the insulting paragraph, said: "Whom would you like to have
"I do not know."
"Are you a good swordsman?"
"A good shot?"
"I have used a pistol a good deal."
"Good! Come and exercise while I attend to everything. Wait a
He entered his dressing-room and soon reappeared, washed, shaven,
"Come with me," said he. He lived on the ground floor, and he led
Duroy into a cellar converted into a room for the practice of fencing
and shooting. He produced a pair of pistols and began to give his
orders as briefly as if they were on the dueling ground. He was well
satisfied with Duroy's use of the weapons, and told him to remain
there and practice until noon, when he would return to take him to
lunch and tell him the result of his mission. Left to his own devices,
Duroy aimed at the target several times and then sat down to reflect.
Such affairs were abominable anyway! What would a respectable man
gain by risking his life? And he recalled Norbert de Varenne's
remarks, made to him a short while before. "He was right!" he
declared aloud. It was gloomy in that cellar, as gloomy as in a tomb.
What o'clock was it? The time dragged slowly on. Suddenly he heard
footsteps, voices, and Jacques Rival reappeared accompanied by
Boisrenard. The former cried on perceiving Duroy: "All is settled!"
Duroy thought the matter had terminated with a letter of apology;
his heart gave a bound and he stammered: "Ahthank you!"
Rival continued: "M. Langremont has accepted every condition.
Twenty-five paces, fire when the pistol is leveled and the order
given." Then he added: "Now let us lunch; it is past twelve o'clock."
They repaired to a neighboring restaurant. Duroy was silent. He ate
that they might not think he was frightened, and went in the
afternoon with Boisrenard to the office, where he worked in an
absent, mechanical manner. Before leaving, Jacques Rival shook hands
with him and warned him that he and Boisrenard would call for him in
a carriage the next morning at seven o'clock to repair to the wood at
Vesinet, where the meeting was to take place.
All had been settled without his saying a word, giving his opinion,
accepting or refusing, with such rapidity that his brain whirled and
he scarcely knew what was taking place. He returned home about nine
o'clock in the evening after having dined with Boisrenard, who had
not left him all day. When he was alone, he paced the floor; he was
too confused to think. One thought alone filled his mind and that
was: a duel to-morrow! He sat down and began to meditate. He had
thrown upon his table his adversary's card brought him by Rival. He
read it for the twentieth time that day:
176 Rue Montmartre."
Nothing more! Who was the man? How old was he? How tall? How did he
look? How odious that a total stranger should without rhyme or
reason, out of pure caprice, annoy him thus on account of an old,
woman's quarrel with her butcher! He said aloud: "The brute!" and
glared angrily at the card.
He began to feel nervous; the sound of his voice made him start; he
drank a glass of water and laid down. He turned from his right side
to his left uneasily. He was thirsty; he rose, he felt restless
"Am I afraid?" he asked himself.
Why did his heart palpitate so wildly at the slightest sound? He
began to reason philosophically on the possibility of being afraid.
No, certainly he was not, since he was ready to fight. Still he felt
so deeply moved that he wondered if one could be afraid in spite of
oneself. What would happen if that state of things should exist? If
he should tremble or lose his presence of mind? He lighted his candle
and looked in the glass; he scarcely recognized his own face, it was
Suddenly he thought: "To-morrow at this time I may be dead." He
turned to his couch and saw himself stretched lifeless upon it. He
hastened to the window and opened it; but the night air was so chilly
that he closed it, lighted a fire, and began to pace the floor once
more, saying mechanically: "I must be more composed. I will write to
my parents, in case of accident." He took a sheet of paper and after
several attempts began:
"My dear father and mother:"
"At daybreak I am going to fight a duel, and as something
He could write no more, he rose with a shudder. It seemed to him
that notwithstanding his efforts, he would not have the strength
necessary to face the meeting. He wondered if his adversary had ever
fought before; if he were known? He had never heard his name.
However, if he had not been a remarkable shot, he would not have
accepted that dangerous weapon without hesitation. He ground his
teeth to prevent his crying aloud. Suddenly he remembered that he had
a bottle of brandy; he fetched it from the cupboard and soon emptied
it. Now he felt his blood course more warmly through his veins. "I
have found a means," said he.
Day broke. He began to dress; when his heart failed him, he took
more brandy. At length there was a knock at the door. His friends had
come; they were wrapped in furs. After shaking hands, Rival said: "It
is as cold as Siberia. Is all well?"
"Are you calm?"
"Have you eaten and drunk something?"
"I do not need anything."
They descended the stairs. A gentleman was seated in the carriage.
Rival said: "Dr. Le Brument." Duroy shook hands with him and
stammered: "Thank you," as he entered the carriage. Jacques Rival and
Boisrenard followed him, and the coachman drove off. He knew where to
The conversation flagged, although the doctor related a number of
anecdotes. Rival alone replied to him. Duroy tried to appear self-
possessed, but he was haunted continually by the fear of showing his
feelings or of losing his self-possession. Rival addressed him,
saying: "I took the pistols to Gastine Renette. He loaded them. The
box is sealed."
Duroy replied mechanically: "Thank you."
Then Rival proceeded to give him minute directions, that he might
make no mistakes. Duroy repeated those directions as children learn
their lessons in order to impress them upon his memory. As he
muttered the phrases over and over, he almost prayed that some
accident might happen to the carriage; if he could only break his
At the end of a glade he saw a carriage standing and four gentlemen
stamping their feet in order to keep them warm, and he was obliged to
gasp in order to get breath. Rival and Boisrenard alighted first, then
the doctor and the combatant.
Rival took the box of pistols, and with Boisrenard approached the
two strangers, who were advancing toward them. Duroy saw them greet
one another ceremoniously, then walk through the glade together as
they counted the paces.
Dr. Le Brument asked Duroy: "Do you feel well? Do you not want
"Nothing, thank you." It seemed to him that he was asleep, that he
was dreaming. Was he afraid? He did not know. Jacques Rival returned
and said in a low voice: "All is ready. Fortune has favored us in the
drawing of the pistols." That was a matter of indifference to Duroy.
They helped him off with his overcoat, led him to the ground set apart
for the duel, and gave him his pistol. Before him stood a man, short,
stout, and bald, who wore glasses. That was his adversary. A voice
broke the silencea voice which came from afar: "Are you ready,
Georges cried: "Yes."
The same voice commanded: "Fire!"
Duroy heard nothing more, saw nothing more; he only knew that he
raised his arm and pressed with all his strength upon the trigger.
Soon he saw a little smoke before him; his opponent was still
standing in the same position, and there was a small white cloud
above his head. They had both fired. All was over! His second and the
doctor felt him, unbuttoned his garments, and asked anxiously: "Are
you wounded?" He replied: "No, I think not."
Langremont was not wounded either, and Jacques Rival muttered
discontentedly: "That is always the way with those cursed pistols,
one either misses or kills one's opponent"
Duroy was paralyzed with surprise and joy. All was over! He felt
that he could fight the entire universe. All was over! What bliss! He
felt brave enough to provoke anyone. The seconds consulted several
moments, then the duelists and their friends entered the carriages and
drove off. When the official report was drawn up, it was handed to
Duroy who was to insert it in the "Echoes." He was surprised to find
that two balls had been fired.
He said to Rival: "We only fired once!"
The latter smiled: "Yesonceonce eachthat makes twice!"
And Duroy, satisfied with that explanation, asked no more
questions. M. Walter embraced him.
"Bravo! you have defended the colors of 'La Vie Francaise'! Bravo!"
The following day at eleven o'clock in the forenoon, Duroy received
"My God! I have been frightened. Come at once to Rue de
Constantinople that I may embrace you, my love. How brave you are. I
adore you. Clo."
He repaired to the place appointed, and Mme. de Marelle rushed into
his arms, covering him with kisses.
"Oh, my darling, if you only knew how I felt when I read the
morning papers! Tell me, tell me all about it."
Duroy was obliged to give her a detailed account.
"You must have had a terrible night before the duel!"
"Why, no; I slept very well."
"I should not have closed my eyes. Tell me what took place on the
Forthwith he proceeded to give her a graphic description of the
duel. When he had concluded, she said to him: "I cannot live without
you! I must see you, and with my husband in Paris it is not very
convenient. I often have an hour early in the morning when I could
come and embrace you, but I cannot enter that horrible house of
yours! What can we do?"
He asked abruptly: "How much do you pay here?"
"One hundred francs a month."
"Very well, I will take the apartments on my own account, and I
will move at once. Mine are not suitable anyway for me now."
She thought a moment and then replied: "No I do not want you to."
He asked in surprise: "Why not?"
"That is no reason. These rooms suit me very well. I am here; I
shall remain." He laughed. "Moreover, they were hired in my name!"
But she persisted: "No, no, I do not wish you to."
"Why not, then?"
She whispered softly, tenderly: "Because you would bring others
here, and I do not wish you to."
Indignantly he cried: "Never, I promise you!"
"You would do so in spite of your promise."
"I swear I will not."
"Trulyupon my word of honor. This is our nestours alone!"
She embraced him in a transport of delight. "Then I agree, my
dearest. But if you deceive me oncejust once, that will end all
between us forever."
He protested, and it was agreed that he should settle in the rooms
that same day. She said to him:
"You must dine with us Sunday. My husband thinks you charming."
He was flattered. "Indeed?"
"Yes, you have made a conquest. Did you not tell me that your home
was in the country?"
"Then you know something about agriculture?"
"Very well; talk to him of gardening and crops; he enjoys those
"All right. I shall not forget."
She left him, after lavishing upon him innumerable caresses.
CHAPTER VIII. DEATH AND A PROPOSAL
Duroy moved his effects to the apartments in Rue de Constantinople.
Two or three times a week, Mme. de-Marelle paid him visits. Duroy, to
counterbalance them, dined at her house every Thursday, and delighted
her husband by talking agriculture to him.
It was almost the end of February. Duroy was free from care. One
night, when he returned home, he found a letter under his door. He
examined the postmark; it was from Cannes. Having opened it, he read:
"Cannes, Villa Jolie."
"Dear sir and friend: You told me, did you not, that I could
count upon you at any time? Very well. I have a favor to ask
of you; it is to come and help menot to leave me alone during
Charles's last moments. He may not live through the week,
although he is not confined to his bed, but the doctor has
warned me. I have not the strength nor the courage to see that
agony day and night, and I think with terror of the approaching
end I can only ask such a thing of you, for my husband has no
relatives. You were his comrade; he helped you to your
position; come, I beg of you; I have no one else to ask."
Georges murmured: "Certainly I will go. Poor Charles!"
The manager, to whom he communicated the contents of that letter,
grumblingly gave his consent. He repeated: "But return speedily, you
are indispensable to us."
Georges Duroy left for Cannes the next day by the seven o'clock
express, after having warned Mme. de Marelle by telegram. He arrived
the following day at four o'clock in the afternoon. A commissionnaire
conducted him to Villa Jolie. The house was small and low, and of the
Italian style of architecture.
A servant opened the door and cried: "Oh, sir, Madame is awaiting
Duroy asked: "How is your master?"
"Not very well, sir. He will not be here long."
The floor of the drawing-room which the young man entered was
covered with a Persian rug; the large windows looked upon the village
and the sea.
Duroy murmured: "How cozy it is here! Where the deuce do they get
the money from?"
The rustling of a gown caused him to turn. Mme. Forestier extended
both her hands, saying:
"How kind of you to come."
She was a trifle paler and thinner, but still as bright as ever,
and perhaps prettier for being more delicate. She whispered: "It is
terriblehe knows he cannot be saved and he tyrannizes over me. I
have told him of your arrival. But where is your trunk?"
Duroy replied: "I left it at the station, not knowing which hotel
you would advise me to stop at, in order to be near you."
She hesitated, then said: "You must stop here, at the villa. Your
chamber is ready. He might die any moment, and if it should come in
the night, I would be alone. I will send for your luggage."
He bowed. "As you will."
"Now, let us go upstairs," said she; he followed her. She opened a
door on the first floor, and Duroy saw a form near a window, seated
in an easy-chair, and wrapped in coverlets. He divined that it was
his friend, though he scarcely recognized him. Forestier raised his
hand slowly and with difficulty, saying:
"You are here; you have come to see me die. I am much obliged."
Duroy forced a smile. "To see you die? That would not be a very
pleasant sight, and I would not choose that occasion on which to
visit Cannes. I came here to rest."
"Sit down," said Forestier, and he bowed his head as if deep in
hopeless meditation. Seeing that he did not speak, his wife
approached the window and pointing to the horizon, said, "Look at
that? Is it not beautiful?"
In spite of himself Duroy felt the grandeur of the closing day and
exclaimed: "Yes, indeed, it is magnificent"
Forestier raised his head and said to his wife: "Give me more air."
She replied: "You must be careful; it is late, the sun is setting;
you will catch more cold and that would be a serious thing in your
He made a feeble gesture of anger with his right hand, and said: "I
tell you I am suffocating! What difference does it make if I die a
day sooner or later, since I must die?"
She opened the window wide. The air was soft and balmy. Forestier
inhaled it in feverish gasps. He grasped the arms of his chair and
said in a low voice: "Shut the window. I would rather die in a
His wife slowly closed the window, then leaned her brow against the
pane and looked out. Duroy, ill at ease, wished to converse with the
invalid to reassure him, but he could think of no words of comfort.
He stammered: "Have you not been better since you are here?"
His friend shrugged his shoulders impatiently: "You will see very
soon." And he bowed his head again.
Duroy continued: "At home it is still wintry. It snows, hails,
rains, and is so dark that they have to light the lamps at three
o'clock in the afternoon."
Forestier asked: "Is there anything new at the office?"
"Nothing. They have taken little Lacrin of the 'Voltaire' to fill
your place, but he is incapable. It is time you came back."
The invalid muttered: "I? I will soon be writing under six feet of
sod." A long silence ensued.
Mme. Forestier did not stir; she stood with her back to the room,
her face toward the window. At length Forestier broke the silence in
a gasping voice, heartrending to listen to: "How many more sunsets
shall I seeeighttenfifteentwentyor perhaps thirtyno more.
You have more time, you twoas for meall is at an end. And
everything will go on when I am gone as if I were here." He paused a
few moments, then continued: "Everything that I see reminds me that I
shall not see them long. It is horrible. I shall no longer see the
smallest objectsthe glassesthe dishesthe beds on which we
restthe carriages. It is fine to drive in the evening. How I loved
Again Norbert de Varenne's words occurred to Duroy. The room grew
dark. Forestier asked irritably:
"Are we to have no lamp to-night? That is what is called caring for
The form outlined against the window disappeared and an electric
bell was heard to ring. A servant soon entered and placed a lamp upon
the mantel-piece. Mme. Forestier asked her husband: "Do you wish to
retire, or will you go downstairs to dinner?"
"I will go down to dinner."
The meal seemed to Duroy interminable, for there was no
conversation, only the ticking of a clock broke the silence. When
they had finished, Duroy, pleading fatigue, retired to his room and
tried in vain to invent some pretext for returning home as quickly as
possible. He consoled himself by saying: "Perhaps it will not be for
The next morning Georges rose early and strolled down to the beach.
When he returned the servant said to him: "Monsieur has asked for you
two or three times. Will you go upstairs?"
He ascended the stairs. Forestier appeared to be in a chair; his
wife, reclining upon a couch, was reading. The invalid raised his
head. Duroy asked:
"Well, how are you? You look better this morning."
Forestier murmured: "Yes, I am better and stronger. Lunch as
hastily as you can with Madeleine, because we are going to take a
When Mme. Forestier was alone with Duroy, she said to him: "You
see, to-day he thinks he is better! He is making plans for to-morrow.
We are now going to Gulf Juan to buy pottery for our rooms in Paris.
He is determined to go, but he cannot stand the jolting on the road."
The carriage arrived, Forestier descended the stairs, step by step,
supported by his servant. When he saw the closed landau, he wanted it
uncovered. His wife opposed him: "It is sheer madness! You will take
He persisted: "No, I am going to be better, I know it."
They first drove along a shady road and then took the road by the
sea. Forestier explained the different points of interest. Finally
they arrived at a pavilion over which were these words: "Gulf Juan
Art Pottery," and the carriage drew up at the door. Forestier wanted
to buy a vase to put on his bookcase. As he could not leave the
carriage, they brought the pieces to him one by one. It took him a
long time to choose, consulting his wife and Duroy: "You know it is
for my study. From my easy-chair I can see it constantly. I prefer
the ancient formthe Greek."
At length he made his choice. "I shall return to Paris in a few
days," said he.
On their way home along the gulf a cool breeze suddenly sprang up,
and the invalid began to cough. At first it was nothing, only a
slight attack, but it grew worse and turned to a sort of hiccougha
rattle; Forestier choked, and every time he tried to breathe he
coughed violently. Nothing quieted him. He had to be carried from the
landau to his room. The heat of the bed did not stop the attack, which
lasted until midnight. The first words the sick man uttered were to
ask for a barber, for he insisted on being shaved every morning. He
rose to be shaved, but was obliged to go to bed at once, and began to
breathe so painfully that Mme. Forestier in affright woke Duroy and
asked him to fetch the doctor. He returned almost immediately with Dr.
Gavant who prescribed for the sick man. When the journalist asked him
his opinion, he said: "It is the final stage. He will be dead
to-morrow morning. Prepare that poor, young wife and send for a
priest. I can do nothing more. However, I am entirely at your
disposal" Duroy went to Mme. Forestier. "He is going to die. The
doctor advises me to send for a priest. What will you do?"
She hesitated a moment and then said slowly:
"I will go and tell him that the cure wishes to see him. Will you
be kind enough to procure one who will require nothing but the
confession, and who will not make much fuss?"
The young man brought with him a kind, old priest who accommodated
himself to circumstances. When he had entered the death chamber, Mme.
Forestier went out and seated herself with Duroy in an adjoining room.
"That has upset him," said she. "When I mentioned the priest to
him, his face assumed a scared expression. He knew that the end was
near. I shall never forget his face."
At that moment they heard the priest saying to him: "Why no, you
are not so low as that. You are ill, but not in danger. The proof of
that is that I came as a friend, a neighbor." They could not hear his
reply. The priest continued: "No, I shall not administer the
sacrament. We will speak of that when you are better. If you will
only confess, I ask no more. I am a pastor; I take advantage of every
occasion to gather in my sheep."
A long silence followed. Then suddenly the priest said, in the tone
of one officiating at the altar:
"The mercy of God is infinite; repeat the 'Confiteor,' my son.
Perhaps you have forgotten it; I will help you. Repeat with me:
'Confiteor Deo omnipotenti; Beata Mariae semper virgini.'" He paused
from time to time to permit the dying man to catch up to him.
Then he said: "Now, confess." The sick man murmured something. The
priest repeated: "You have committed sins: of what kind, my son?"
The young woman rose and said simply: "Let us go into the garden.
We must not listen to his secrets."
They seated themselves upon a bench before the door, beneath a
blossoming rosebush. After several moments of silence Duroy asked:
"Will it be some time before you return to Paris?"
"No," she replied; "when all is over, I will go back."
"In about ten days?"
"Yes, at most."
He continued; "Charles has no relatives then?"
"None, save cousins. His father and mother died when he was very
In the course of a few minutes, the servant came to tell them that
the priest had finished, and together they ascended the stairs.
Forestier seemed to have grown thinner since the preceding day. The
priest was holding his hand.
"Au revoir, my son. I will come again to-morrow morning"; and he
left. When he was gone, the dying man, who was panting, tried to
raise his two hands toward his wife and gasped:
"Save mesave me, my darling. I do not want to dieoh, save
mego for the doctor. I will take anything. I do not want to die." He
wept; the tears coursed down his pallid cheeks. Then his hands
commenced to wander hither and thither continually, slowly, and
regularly, as if gathering something on the coverlet. His wife, who
was also weeping, sobbed:
"No, it is nothing. It is only an attack; you will be better to-
morrow; you tired yourself with that drive."
Forestier drew his breath quickly and so faintly that one could
scarcely hear him. He repeated:
"I do not want to die! Oh, my Godmy Godwhat has happened to me?
I cannot see. Oh, my God!" His staring eyes saw something invisible
to the others; his hands plucked continually at the counterpane.
Suddenly he shuddered and gasped: "The cemeterymemy God!" He did
not speak again. He lay there motionless and ghastly. The hours
dragged on; the clock of a neighboring convent chimed noon.
Duroy left the room to obtain some food. He returned an hour later;
Mme. Forestier would eat nothing. The invalid had not stirred. The
young woman was seated in an easy-chair at the foot of the bed. Duroy
likewise seated himself, and they watched in silence. A nurse, sent by
the doctor, had arrived and was dozing by the window.
Duroy himself was almost asleep when he felt a presentiment that
something was about to happen. He opened his eyes just in time to see
Forestier close his. He coughed slightly, and two streams of blood
issued from the corners of his mouth and flowed upon his night robe;
his hands ceased their perpetual motion; he had breathed his last. His
wife, perceiving it, uttered a cry and fell upon her knees by the
bedside. Georges, in surprise and affright, mechanically made the sign
of the cross.
The nurse, awakening, approached the bed and said: "It has come."
Duroy, recovering his self-possession, murmured with a sigh of
relief: "It was not as hard as I feared it would be."
That night Mme. Forestier and Duroy watched in the chamber of
death. They were alone beside him who was no more. They did not speak,
Georges's eyes seemed attracted to that emaciated face which the
flickering light made more hollow. That was his friend, Charles
Forestier, who the day before had spoken to him. For several years he
had lived, eaten, laughed, loved, and hoped as did everyoneand now
all was ended for him forever.
Life lasted a few months or years, and then fled! One was born,
grew, was happy, and died. Adieu! man or woman, you will never return
to earth! He thought of the insects which live several hours, of the
feasts which live several days, of the men who live several years, of
the worlds which last several centuries. What was the difference
between one and the other? A few more dawns, that was all.
Duroy turned away his eyes in order not to see the corpse. Mme.
Forestier's head was bowed; her fair hair enhanced the beauty of her
sorrowful face. The young man's heart grew hopeful. Why should he
lament when he had so many years still before him? He glanced at the
handsome widow. How had she ever consented to marry that man? Then he
pondered upon all the hidden secrets of their lives. He remembered
that he had been told of a Count de Vaudrec who had dowered and given
her in marriage. What would she do now? Whom would she marry? Had she
projects, plans? He would have liked to know. Why that anxiety as to
what she would do?
Georges questioned himself, and found that it was caused by a
desire to win her for himself. Why should he not succeed? He was
positive that she liked him; she would have confidence in him, for she
knew that he was intelligent, resolute, tenacious. Had she not sent
for him? Was not that a kind of avowal? He was impatient to question
her, to find out her intentions. He would soon have to leave that
villa, for he could not remain alone with the young widow; therefore
he must find out her plans before returning to Paris, in order that
she might not yield to another's entreaties. He broke the oppressive
silence by saying:
"You must be fatigued."
"Yes, but above all I am grieved."
Their voices sounded strange in that room. They glanced
involuntarily at the corpse as if they expected to see it move. Duroy
"It is a heavy blow for you, and will make a complete change in
She sighed deeply, but did not reply. He added:
"It is very sad for a young woman like you to be left alone." He
paused; she still did not reply, and he stammered: "At any rate, you
will remember the compact between us; you can command me as you will.
I am yours."
She held out her hand to him and said mournfully and gently:
"Thanks, you are very kind. If I can do anything for you, I say too:
'Count on me.'"
He took her proffered hand, gazed at it, and was seized with an
ardent desire to kiss it. Slowly he raised it to his lips and then
relinquished it. As her delicate fingers lay upon her knee the young
widow said gravely:
"Yes, I shall be all alone, but I shall force myself to be brave."
He did not know how to tell her that he would be delighted to wed
her. Certainly it was no time to speak to her on such a subject;
however, he thought he might be able to express himself by means of
some phrase which would have a hidden meaning and would infer what he
wished to say. But that rigid corpse lay between them. The atmosphere
became oppressive, almost suffocating. Duroy asked: "Can we not open
the window a little? The air seems to be impure."
"Certainly," she replied; "I have noticed it too."
He opened the window, letting in the cool night air. He turned:
"Come and look out, it is delightful."
She glided softly to his side. He whispered: "Listen to me. Do not
be angry that I broach the subject at such a time, but the day after
to-morrow I shall leave here and when you return to Paris it might be
too late. You know that I am only a poor devil, who has his position
to make, but I have the will and some intelligence, and I am
advancing. A man who has attained his ambition knows what to count on;
a man who has his way to make does not know what may come- -it may be
better or worse. I told you one day that my most cherished dream was
to have a wife like you."
"I repeat it to you to-day. Do not reply, but let me continue. This
is no proposalthe time and place would render it odious. I only
wish to tell you that by a word you can make me happy, and that you
can make of me as you will, either a friend or a husbandfor my
heart and my body are yours. I do not want you to answer me now. I do
not wish to speak any more on the subject here. When we meet in Paris,
you can tell me your decision."
He uttered these words without glancing at her, and she seemed not
to have heard them, for she stood by his side motionless, staring
vaguely and fixedly at the landscape before her, bathed in moonlight.
At length she murmured: "It is rather chilly," and turned toward
the bed. Duroy followed her. They did not speak but continued their
watch. Toward midnight Georges fell asleep. At daybreak the nurse
entered and he started up. Both he and Mme. Forestier retired to
their rooms to obtain some rest. At eleven o'clock they rose and
lunched together; while through the open window was wafted the sweet,
perfumed air of spring. After lunch, Mme. Forestier proposed that they
take a turn in the garden; as they walked slowly along, she suddenly
said, without turning her head toward him, in a low, grave voice:
"Listen to me, my dear friend; I have already reflected upon what
you proposed to me, and I cannot allow you to depart without a word
of reply. I will, however, say neither yes nor no. We will wait, we
will see; we will become better acquainted. You must think it well
over too. Do not yield to an impulse. I mention this to you before
even poor Charles is buried, because it is necessary, after what you
have said to me, that you should know me as I am, in order not to
cherish the hope you expressed to me any longer, if you are not a man
who can understand and bear with me."
"Now listen carefully: Marriage, to me, is not a chain but an
association. I must be free, entirely unfettered, in all my actions-
-my coming and my going; I can tolerate neither control, jealousy,
nor criticism as to my conduct. I pledge my word, however, never to
compromise the name of the man I marry, nor to render him ridiculous
in the eyes of the world. But that man must promise to look upon me
as an equal, an ally, and not as an inferior, or as an obedient,
submissive wife. My ideas, I know, are not like those of other
people, but I shall never change them. Do not answer me, it would be
useless. We shall meet again and talk it all over later. Now take a
walk; I shall return to him. Good-bye until to-night."
He kissed her hand and left her without having uttered a word. That
night they met at dinner; directly after the meal they sought their
rooms, worn out with fatigue.
Charles Forestier was buried the next day in the cemetery at Cannes
without any pomp, and Georges returned to Paris by the express which
left at one-thirty. Mme. Forestier accompanied him to the station.
They walked up and down the platform awaiting the hour of departure
and conversing on indifferent subjects.
The train arrived, the journalist took his seat; a porter cried:
"Marseilles, Lyons, Paris! All aboard!" The locomotive whistled and
the train moved slowly out of the station.
The young man leaned out of the carriage, and looked at the
youthful widow standing on the platform gazing after him. Just as she
was disappearing from his sight, he threw her a kiss, which she
returned with a more discreet wave of her hand.
CHAPTER IX. MARRIAGE
Georges Duroy resumed his old habits. Installed in the cozy
apartments on Rue de Constantinople, his relations with Mme. de
Marelle became quite conjugal.
Mme. Forestier had not returned; she lingered at Cannes. He,
however, received a letter from her announcing her return about the
middle of April, but containing not a word as to their parting. He
waited. He was resolved to employ every means to marry her if she
seemed to hesitate; he had faith in his good fortune, in that power
of attraction which he felt within hima power so irresistible that
all women yielded to it.
At length a short note admonished him that the decisive moment had
"I am in Paris. Come to see me."
Nothing more. He received it at nine o'clock. At three o'clock of
the same day he called at her house. She extended both hands to him
with a sweet smile, and they gazed into each other's eyes for several
seconds, then she murmured:
"How kind of you to come!"
He replied: "I should have come, whensoever you bade me."
They sat down; she inquired about the Walters, his associates, and
"I miss that very much," said she. "I had become a journalist in
spirit. I like the profession." She paused. He fancied he saw in her
smile, in her voice, in her words, a kind of invitation, and although
he had resolved not to hasten matters, he stammered:
"Wellwhywhy do you not resumethat professionunderthe name
She became suddenly serious, and placing her hand on his arm, she
said: "Do not let us speak of that yet."
Divining that she would accept him, he fell upon his knees, and
passionately kissed her hands, saying:
"Thank youthank youhow I love you."
She rose, she was very pale. Duroy kissed her brow. When she had
disengaged herself from his embrace, she said gravely: "Listen, my
friend, I have not yet fully decided; but my answer may be 'yes.' You
must wait patiently, however, until I disclose the secret to you."
He promised and left her, his heart overflowing with joy. He worked
steadily, spent little, tried to save some money that he might not be
without a sou at the time of his marriage, and became as miserly as he
had once been prodigal. Summer glided by; then autumn, and no one
suspected the tie existing between Duroy and Mme. Forestier, for they
seldom met in public.
One evening Madeleine said to him: "You have not yet told Mme. de
Marelle our plans?"
"No, my dear; as you wished them kept secret, I have not mentioned
them to a soul."
"Very well; there is plenty of time. I will tell the Walters."
She turned away her head and continued: "If you wish, we can be
married the beginning of May."
"I obey you in all things joyfully."
"The tenth of May, which falls on Saturday, would please me, for it
is my birthday."
"Very well, the tenth of May."
"Your parents live near Rouen, do they not?"
"Yes, near Rouen, at Canteleu."
"I am very anxious to see them!"
He hesitated, perplexed: "Butthey are" Then he added more
firmly: "My dear, they are plain, country people, innkeepers, who
strained every nerve to give me an education. I am not ashamed of
them, but theirsimplicitytheir rusticity might annoy you."
She smiled sweetly. "No, I will love them very much. We will visit
them; I wish to. I, too, am the child of humble parentsbut I lost
mineI have no one in the world"she held out her hand to him
He was affected, conquered as he had never been by any woman.
"I have been thinking of something," said she, "but it is difficult
He asked: "What is it?"
"It is this: I am like all women. I have mymy weaknesses. I
should like to bear a noble name. Can you not on the occasion of our
marriage change your name somewhat?" She blushed as if she had
proposed something indelicate.
He replied simply: "I have often thought of it, but it does not
seem easy to me."
He laughed. "Because I am afraid I should be ridiculed."
She shrugged her shoulders. "Not at allnot at all. Everyone does
it, and no one laughs. Separate your name in this way: Du Roy. It
sounds very well."
He replied: "No, that will not do; it is too common a proceeding. I
have thought of assuming the name of my native place, first as a
literary pseudonym and then as my surname in conjunction with Duroy,
which might later on, as you proposed, be separated."
She asked: "Is your native place Canteleu?"
"I do not like the termination. Could we not modify it?"
She took a pen and wrote down the names in order to study them.
Suddenly she cried: "Now I have it," and held toward him a sheet of
paper on which was written: "Mme. Duroy de Cantel."
Gravely he replied: "Yes, it is very nice."
She was delighted, and repeated: "Duroy de Cantel. Mme. Duroy de
Cantel. It is excellent, excellent!"
Then she added with an air of conviction: "You will see how easily
it will be accepted by everyone! After to-morrow, sign your articles
'D. de Cantel,' and your 'Echoes' simply 'Duroy.' That is done on the
press every day and no one will be surprised to see you take a nom de
plume. What is your father's name?"
She murmured "Alexandre!" two or three times in succession; then
she wrote upon a blank sheet:
"M. and Mme. Alexandre du Roy de Cantel announce the marriage of
their son, M. Georges du Roy de Cantel with Mme. Forestier."
She examined her writing, and, charmed with the effect, exclaimed:
"With a little method one can succeed in anything."
When Georges reached the street resolved to call himself,
henceforth, "Du Roy," or even "Du Roy de Cantel," it seemed to him
that he was of more importance. He swaggered more boldly, held his
head more erect and walked as he thought gentlemen should. He felt a
desire to inform the passers-by, "My name is Du Roy de Cantel."
Scarcely had he entered his apartments when the thought of Mme. de
Marelle rendered him uneasy, and he wrote to her immediately,
appointing a meeting for the following day.
"It will be hard," thought he. "There will be a quarrel surely."
The next morning he received a telegram from Madame, informing him
that she would be with him at one o'clock. He awaited her
impatiently, determined to confess at once and afterward to argue
with her, to tell her that he could not remain a bachelor
indefinitely, and that, as M. de Marelle persisted in living, he had
been compelled to choose some one else as a legal companion. When the
bell rang, his heart gave a bound.
Mme. de Marelle entered and cast herself into his arms, saying:
"Good afternoon, Bel-Ami." Perceiving that his embrace was colder
than usual, she glanced up at him and asked: "What ails you?"
"Take a seat," said he. "We must talk seriously."
She seated herself without removing her hat, and waited. He cast
down his eyes; he was preparing to commence.
Finally he said slowly: "My dear friend, you see that I am very
much perplexed, very sad, and very much embarrassed by what I have to
confess to you. I love you; I love you with all my heart, and the
fear of giving you pain grieves me more than what I have to tell
She turned pale, trembled, and asked: "What is it? Tell me
He said sadly but resolutely: "I am going to be married."
She sighed like one about to lose consciousness; then she gasped,
but did not speak.
He continued: "You cannot imagine how much I suffered before taking
that resolution. But I have neither position nor money. I am alone in
Paris, I must have near me some one who can counsel, comfort, and
support me. What I need is an associate, an ally, and I have found
one!" He paused, hoping that she would reply, expecting an outburst
of furious rage, reproaches, and insults. She pressed her hand to her
heart and breathed with difficulty. He took the hand resting on the
arm of the chair, but she drew it away and murmured as if stupefied:
"Oh, my God!"
He fell upon his knees before her, without, however, venturing to
touch her, more moved by her silence than he would have been by her
"Clo, my little Clo, you understand my position. Oh, if I could
have married you, what happiness it would have afforded me! But you
were married! What could I do? Just think of it! I must make my way in
the world and I can never do so as long as I have no domestic ties.
If you knew. There are days when I should like to kill your husband."
He spoke in a low, seductive voice. He saw two tears gather in Mme. de
Marelle's eyes and trickle slowly down her cheeks. He whispered: "Do
not weep, Clo, do not weep, I beseech you. You break my heart."
She made an effort to appear dignified and haughty, and asked,
though somewhat unsteadily: "Who is it?"
For a moment he hesitated before he replied: "Madeleine Forestier!"
Mme. de Marelle started; her tears continued to flow. She rose.
Duroy saw that she was going to leave him without a word of reproach
or pardon, and he felt humbled, humiliated. He seized her gown and
"Do not leave me thus."
She looked at him with that despairing, tearful glance so charming
and so touching, which expresses all the misery pent-up in a woman's
heart, and stammered: "I have nothingto say; I can do nothing.
Youyou are right; you have made a good choice."
And disengaging herself she left the room.
With a sigh of relief at escaping so easily, he repaired to Mme.
Forestier's, who asked him: "Have you told Mme. de Marelle?"
He replied calmly: "Yes."
"Did it affect her?"
"Not at all. On the contrary, she thought it an excellent plan."
The news was soon noised abroad. Some were surprised, others
pretended to have foreseen it, and others again smiled, inferring
that they were not at all astonished. The young man, who signed his
articles, "D. de Cantel," his "Echoes," "Duroy," and his political
sketches, "Du Roy," spent the best part of his time with his
betrothed, who had decided that the date fixed for the wedding should
be kept secret, that the ceremony should be celebrated in the presence
of witnesses only, that they should leave the same evening for Rouen,
and that the day following they should visit the journalist's aged
parents and spend several days with them. Duroy had tried to persuade
Madeleine to abandon that project, but not succeeding in his efforts
he was finally compelled to submit.
The tenth of May arrived. Thinking a religious ceremony
unnecessary, as they had issued no invitations, the couple were
married at a magistrate's and took the six o'clock train for Normandy.
As the train glided along, Duroy seated in front of his wife, took
her hand, kissed it, and said: "When we return we will dine at Chatou
She murmured: "We shall have a great many things to do!" in a tone
which seemed to say: "We must sacrifice pleasure to duty."
He retained her hand wondering anxiously how he could manage to
caress her. He pressed her hand slightly, but she did not respond to
He said: "It seems strange that you should be my wife."
She appeared surprised: "Why?"
"I do not know. It seems droll. I want to embrace you and I am
surprised that I have the right."
She calmly offered him her cheek which he kissed as he would have
kissed his sister's. He continued:
"The first time I saw you (you remember, at that dinner to which I
was invited at Forestier's), I thought: 'Sacristi, if I could only
find a wife like that!' And now I have one."
She glanced at him with smiling eyes.
He said to himself: "I am too cold. I am stupid. I should make more
advances." And he asked: "How did you make Forestier's acquaintance?"
She replied with provoking archness: "Are we going to Rouen to talk
He colored. "I am a fool. You intimidate me."
She was delighted. "I? Impossible."
He seated himself beside her. She exclaimed: "Ah! a stag!" The
train was passing through the forest of Saint-Germain and she had seen
a frightened deer clear an alley at a bound. As she gazed out of the
open window, Duroy bending over her, pressed a kiss upon her neck.
For several moments she remained motionless, then raising her head,
she said: "You tickle me, stop!"
But he did not obey her.
She repeated: "Stop, I say!"
He seized her head with his right hand, turned it toward him and
pressed his lips to hers. She struggled, pushed him away and
He did not heed her. With an effort, she freed herself and rising,
said: "Georges, have done. We are not children, we shall soon reach
"Very well," said he, gaily, "I will wait."
Reseating herself near him she talked of what they would do on
their return; they would keep the apartments in which she had lived
with her first husband, and Duroy would receive Forestier's position
on "La Vie Francaise." In the meantime, forgetting her injunctions and
his promise, he slipped his arm around her waist, pressed her to him
and murmured: "I love you dearly, my little Made."
The gentleness of his tone moved the young woman, and leaning
toward him she offered him her lips; as she did so, a whistle
announced the proximity of the station. Pushing back some stray locks
upon her temples, she exclaimed:
"We are foolish."
He kissed her hands feverishly and replied:
"I adore you, my little Made."
On reaching Rouen they repaired to a hotel where they spent the
night. The following morning, when they had drunk the tea placed upon
the table in their room, Duroy clasped his wife in his arms and said:
"My little Made, I feel that I love you very, very much."
She smiled trustfully and murmured as she returned his kisses: "I
love you tooa little."
The visit to his parents worried Georges, although he had prepared
his wife. He began again: "You know they are peasants, real, not
sham, comic-opera peasants."
She smiled. "I know it, you have told me often enough."
"We shall be very uncomfortable. There is only a straw bed in my
room; they do not know what hair mattresses are at Canteleu."
She seemed delighted. "So much the better. It would be charming to
sleep badlywhennear youand to be awakened by the crowing of the
He walked toward the window and lighted a cigarette. The sight of
the harbor, of the river filled with ships moved him and he
exclaimed: "Egad, but that is fine!"
Madeleine joined him and placing both of her hands on her husband's
shoulder, cried: "Oh, how beautiful! I did not know that there were
so many ships!"
An hour later they departed in order to breakfast with the old
couple, who had been informed several days before of their intended
arrival. Both Duroy and his wife were charmed with the beauties of
the landscape presented to their view, and the cabman halted in order
to allow them to get a better idea of the panorama before them. As he
whipped up his horse, Duroy saw an old couple not a hundred meters
off, approaching, and he leaped from the carriage crying: "Here they
are, I know them."
The man was short, corpulent, florid, and vigorous, notwithstanding
his age; the woman was tall, thin, and melancholy, with stooping
shouldersa woman who had worked from childhood, who had never
laughed nor jested.
Madeleine, too, alighted and watched the couple advance, with a
contraction of her heart she had not anticipated. They did not
recognize their son in that fine gentleman, and they would never have
taken that handsome lady for their daughter-in-law. They walked along,
passed the child they were expecting, without glancing at the "city
Georges cried with a laugh: "Good day, Father Duroy."
Both the old man and his wife were struck dumb with astonishment;
the latter recovered her self-possession first and asked: "Is it you,
The young man replied: "Yes, it is I, Mother Duroy," and
approaching her, he kissed her upon both cheeks and said: "This is my
The two rustics stared at Madeleine as if she were a curiosity,
with anxious fear, combined with a sort of satisfied approbation on
the part of the father and of jealous enmity on that of the mother.
M. Duroy, senior, who was naturally jocose, made so bold as to ask
with a twinkle in his eye: "May I kiss you too?" His son uttered an
exclamation and Madeleine offered her cheek to the old peasant; who
afterward wiped his lips with the back of his hand. The old woman, in
her turn, kissed her daughter-in-law with hostile reserve. Her ideal
was a stout, rosy, country lass, as red as an apple and as round.
The carriage preceded them with the luggage. The old man took his
son's arm and asked him: "How are you getting on?"
"That is right. Tell me, has your wife any means?"
Georges replied: "Forty thousand francs."
His father whistled softly and muttered: "Whew!" Then he added:
"She is a handsome woman." He admired his son's wife, and in his day
had considered himself a connoisseur.
Madeleine and the mother walked side by side in silence; the two
men joined them. They soon reached the village, at the entrance to
which stood M. Duroy's tavern. A pine board fastened over the door
indicated that thirsty people might enter. The table was laid. A
neighbor, who had come to assist, made a low courtesy on seeing so
beautiful a lady appear; then recognizing Georges, she cried: "Oh
Lord, is it you?"
He replied merrily: "Yes, it is I, Mother Brulin," and he kissed
her as he had kissed his father and mother. Then he turned to his
"Come into our room," said he, "you can lay aside your hat."
They passed through a door to the right and entered a room paved
with brick, with whitewashed walls and a bed with cotton hangings.
A crucifix above a holy-water basin and two colored prints,
representing Paul and Virginia beneath a blue palm-tree, and Napoleon
I. on a yellow horse, were the only ornaments in that neat, but bare
When they were alone, Georges embraced Madeleine.
"Good morning, Made! I am glad to see the old people once more.
When one is in Paris one does not think of this place, but when one
returns, one enjoys it just the same."
At that moment his father cried, knocking on the partition with his
fist: "Come, the soup is ready."
They re-entered the large public-room and took their seats at the
table. The meal was a long one, served in a truly rustic fashion.
Father Duroy, enlivened by the cider and several glasses of wine,
related many anecdotes, while Georges, to whom they were all
familiar, laughed at them.
Mother Duroy did not speak, but sat at the board, grim and austere,
glancing at her daughter-in-law with hatred in her heart.
Madeleine did not speak nor did she eat; she was depressed.
Wherefore? She had wished to come; she knew that she was coming to a
simple home; she had formed no poetical ideas of those peasants, but
she had perhaps expected to find them somewhat more polished,
refined. She recalled her own mother, of whom she never spoke to
anyonea governess who had been betrayed and who had died of grief
and shame when Madeleine was twelve years old. A stranger had had the
little girl educated. Her father without doubt. Who was he? She did
not know positively, but she had vague suspicions.
The meal was not yet over when customers entered, shook hands with
M. Duroy, exclaimed on seeing his son, and seating themselves at the
wooden tables began to drink, smoke, and play dominoes. The smoke
from the clay pipes and penny cigars filled the room.
Madeleine choked and asked: "Can we go out? I cannot remain here
Old Duroy grumbled at being disturbed. Madeleine rose and placed
her chair at the door in order to wait until her father-in-law and his
wife had finished their coffee and wine.
Georges soon joined her.
"Would you like to stroll down to the Seine?"
Joyfully she cried: "Yes."
They descended the hillside, hired a boat at Croisset, and spent
the remainder of the afternoon beneath the willows in the soft, warm,
spring air, and rocked gently by the rippling waves of the river.
They returned at nightfall. The evening repast by candle-light was
more painful to Madeleine than that of the morning. Neither Father
Duroy nor his wife spoke. When the meal was over, Madeleine drew her
husband outside in order not to have to remain in that room, the
atmosphere of which was heavy with smoke and the fumes of liquor.
When they were alone, he said: "You are already weary."
She attempted to protest; he interrupted her:
"I have seen it. If you wish we will leave tomorrow."
She whispered: "I should like to go."
They walked along and entered a narrow path among high trees,
hedged in on either side by impenetrable brushwood.
She asked: "Where are we?"
He replied: "In the forestone of the largest in France."
Madeleine, on raising her head, could see the stars between the
branches and hear the rustling of the leaves. She felt strangely
nervous. Why, she could not tell. She seemed to be lost, surrounded
by perils, abandoned, alone, beneath that vast vaulted sky.
She murmured: "I am afraid; I should like to return."
"Very well, we will."
On their return they found the old people in bed. The next morning
Madeleine rose early and was ready to leave at daybreak. When Georges
told his parents that they were going to return home, they guessed
whose wish it was.
His father asked simply: "Shall I see you soon again?"
"Yesin the summer-time."
His mother grumbled: "I hope you will not regret what you have
Georges gave them two hundred francs to appease them, and the cab
arriving at ten o'clock, the couple kissed the old peasants and set
As they were descending the side of the hill, Duroy laughed. "You
see," said he, "I warned you. I should, however, not have presented
you to M. and Mme. du Roy de Cantel, senior."
She laughed too and replied: "I am charmed now! They are nice
people whom I am beginning to like very much. I shall send them
confections from Paris." Then she murmured: "Du Roy de Cantel. We will
say that we spent a week at your parents' estate," and drawing near
him, she kissed him saying:
"Good morning, Georges."
He replied: "Good morning, Madeleine," as he slipped his arm around
CHAPTER X. JEALOUSY
The Du Roys had been in Paris two days and the journalist had
resumed work; he had given up his own especial province to assume
that of Forestier, and to devote himself entirely to politics. On
this particular evening he turned his steps toward home with a light
heart. As he passed a florist's on Rue Notre Dame de Lorette he
bought a bouquet of half-open roses for Madeleine. Having forgotten
his key, on arriving at his door, he rang and the servant answered
Georges asked: "Is Madame at home?" "Yes, sir."
In the dining-room he paused in astonishment to see covers laid for
three: the door of the salon being ajar, he saw Madeleine arranging
in a vase on the mantelpiece a bunch of roses similar to his.
He entered the room and asked: "Have you invited anyone to dinner?"
She replied without turning her head and continuing the arrangement
of her flowers: "Yes and no: it is my old friend, Count de Vaudrec,
who is in the habit of dining here every Monday and who will come now
as he always has,"
Georges murmured: "Very well."
He stopped behind her, the bouquet in his hand, the desire strong
within him to conceal itto throw it away. However, he said:
"Here, I have brought you some roses!"
She turned to him with a smile and said: "Ah, how thoughtful of
you!" and she kissed him with such evident affection that he felt
She took the flowers, inhaled their perfume, and put them in an
empty vase. Then she said as she noted the effect: "Now I am
satisfied; my mantelpiece looks pretty," adding with an air of
"Vaudrec is charming; you will become intimate with him at once,"
A ring announced the Count. He entered as if he were at home. After
gallantly kissing Mme. Du Roy's hand, he turned to her husband and
cordially offered his hand, saying: "How are you, my dear Du Roy?"
He had no longer that haughty air, but was very affable. One would
have thought in the course of five minutes, that the two men had
known one another for ten years. Madeleine, whose face was radiant,
said: "I will leave you together. I have work to superintend in the
kitchen." The dinner was excellent and the Count remained very late.
When he was gone, Madeleine said to her husband: "Is he not nice? He
improves, too, on acquaintance. He is a good, true, faithful friend.
Ah, without him"
She did not complete her sentence and Georges replied: "Yes, he is
very pleasant, I think we shall understand each other well."
"You do not know," she said, "that we have work to do to-night
before retiring. I did not have time to tell you before dinner, for
Vaudrec came. Laroche-Mathieu brought me important news of Morocco.
We must make a fine article of that. Let us set to work at once.
Come, take the lamp."
He carried the lamp and they entered the study. Madeleine leaned,
against the mantelpiece, and having lighted a cigarette, told him the
news and gave him her plan of the article. He listened attentively,
making notes as she spoke, and when she had finished he raised
objections, took up the question and, in his turn, developed another
plan. His wife ceased smoking, for her interest was aroused in
following Georges's line of thought. From time to time she murmured:
"Yes, yes; very goodexcellentvery forcible" And when he had
finished speaking, she said: "Now let us write."
It was always difficult for him to make a beginning and she would
lean over his shoulder and whisper the phrases in his ear, then he
would add a few lines; when their article was completed, Georges re-
read it. Both he and Madeleine pronounced it admirable and kissed one
another with passionate admiration.
The article appeared with the signature of "G. du Roy de Cantel,"
and made a great sensation. M. Walter congratulated the author, who
soon became celebrated in political circles. His wife, too, surprised
him by the ingenuousness of her mind, the cleverness of her wit, and
the number of her acquaintances. At almost any time upon returning
home he found in his salon a senator, a deputy, a magistrate, or a
general, who treated Madeleine with grave familiarity.
Deputy Laroche-Mathieu, who dined at Rue Fontaine every Tuesday,
was one of the largest stockholders of M. Walter's paper and the
latter's colleague and associate in many business transactions. Du
Roy hoped, later on, that some of the benefits promised by him to
Forestier might fall to his share. They would be given to Madeleine's
new husbandthat was allnothing was changed; even his associates
sometimes called him Forestier, and it made Du Roy furious at the
dead. He grew to hate the very name; it was to him almost an insult.
Even at home the obsession continued; the entire house reminded him of
One evening Du Roy, who liked sweetmeats, asked:
"Why do we never have sweets?"
His wife replied pleasantly: "I never think of it, because Charles
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, old
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.
CHAPTER XI. MADAME WALTER TAKES A
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
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 plainone
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
"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: "Andshelikesme"
"Yes. If you were not married I should advise you to ask for the
hand ofSuzannewould 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 conquestsone 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
"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."
"Stillstillyou 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 my heart"
"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 admirably."
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
usBel-Amiwe 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 moneyyou 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 indeedI do
not understandyou 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 declarationseriously?"
"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 madI 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 you."
She stammered: "After what you promised meit is too badtoo
He seemed to make a great effort, then he continued in a subdued
voice: "See, how I can control myselfand yetlet me only tell you
thisI love youyes, 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 cannotI do not wish to. Think of what my servants, my
daughters, would saynonoit 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
"Then tell me where I can meet youin the streetit matters not
whereat any hour you wishprovided 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.
CHAPTER XII. A MEETING AND THE
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
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
thusmad to have come hithermad to do as I have done, to let you
believe that thisthis adventure can have any results. Forget it,
and never speak to me of it again." She paused.
He replied: "I expect nothingI hope nothingI love youwhatever
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
He was overcome by astonishment.
"Oh, my God!" she continued incoherently, "Should I say that to
you? I feel guilty, despicableIwho have two daughtersbut I
cannot cannotI never thoughtit was stronger than
IlistenlistenI have never lovedany otherbut youI swear
itI have loved you a year in secretI have suffered and
struggledI can no longer; I love you." She wept and her bowed form
was shaken by the violence of her emotion.
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 nowgogo awayfor only five minutesI suffer too much
near you. I want to praygo. Let me pray alonefive minuteslet me
ask Godto pardon meto save meleave mefive 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
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 onceat once! It is
necessary! He is here! In this church! He is waiting for me."
The priest asked: "Who is waiting for you?"
"A manwho will be my ruin if you do not save me. I can no longer
escape himI am too weaktoo 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
"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 questionyou 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 yieldI 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 accounthow 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."
CHAPTER XIII. 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
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 ratmy dogmy treasure- -my
jewelmy 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
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 are!"
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 Mme.
"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 toto give youpolitical newsto give you
the means of earning fifty thousand francsor 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
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
"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 hiseyes 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 next day.
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
"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 youyou 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 hairhere is a white oneyou have taken a
fancy to an old woman now. Then you do not need mekeep the other
one." She rose.
He attempted to detain her and stammered: "NoCloyou are
absurd I do not know whose it islistenstayseestay"
But she repeated: "Keep your old womankeep herhave a chain made
of her hairof her gray hairthere 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 thenhe 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 thingsof 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: "ThanksI 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 himdo not worry about meI do not know what time I
shall returndo 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
"Ahandhe 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 exactlyone 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.
CHAPTER XIV. THE WILL
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
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 mucha remembrance to prove that he thought of usthat 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 legally."
"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 manround 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 madyou areyou areyou did not thinkhe would leave you
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 shall not."
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 millionso 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 methat 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
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: "Nodecidedly noperhaps it would
be better to renounce it altogetherit would be more correctmore
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
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 reflecthe 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 herethrow 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 title.
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 altogether
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."
CHAPTER XV. SUZANNE
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 worlda 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
himan idea of conquering all Parisan 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 everyonetoward 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 is excellent."
His only reply was to turn his back upon her. He declared that he
would not attend M. Walter's fetethat 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 inflexible.
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 museumwithout 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
hastilyone 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 marrysome 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 workthe work of a masterone 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 Suzannea 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 world's
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
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 eveningororyou 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."
"I have none."
"Indeed! Why do you never come to see me? Why do you refuse to dine
with me even once a week? I have no other thoughts than of you. I
suffer terribly. You cannot understand that your image, always
present, closes my throat, stifles me, and leaves me scarcely
strength enough to move my limbs in order to walk. So I remain all
day in my chair thinking of you."
He looked at her in astonishment. These were the words of a
desperate woman, capable of anything. He, however, cherished a vague
project and replied: "My dear, love is not eternal. One loves and one
ceases to love. When it lasts it becomes a drawback. I want none of
it! However, if you will be reasonable, and will receive and treat me
as a friend, I will come to see you as formerly. Can you do that?"
She murmured: "I can do anything in order to see you."
"Then it is agreed that we are to be friends, nothing more."
She gasped: "It is agreed"; offering him her lips she cried in her
despair: "One more kissone last kiss!"
He gently drew back. "No, we must adhere to our rules."
She turned her head and wiped away two tears, then drawing from her
bosom a package of notes tied with pink ribbon, she held it toward Du
Roy: "Here is your share of the profits in that Moroccan affair. I was
so glad to make it for you. Here, take it."
He refused: "No, I cannot accept that money."
She became excited: "Oh, you will not refuse it now! It is yours,
yours alone. If you do not take it, I will throw it in the sewer. You
will not refuse it, Georges!"
He took the package and slipped it into his pocket "We must return
to the house; you will take cold."
"So much the better; if I could but die!"
She seized his hand, kissed it passionately, and fled toward the
house. He returned more leisurely, and entered the conservatory with
head erect and smiling lips. His wife and Laroche were no longer
there. The crowd had grown thinner. Suzanne, leaning on her sister's
arm, advanced toward him. In a few moments, Rose, whom they teased
about a certain Count, turned upon her heel and left them.
Du Roy, finding himself alone with Suzanne, said in a caressing
voice: "Listen, my dear little one; do you really consider me a
"Why, yes, Bel-Ami."
"You have faith in me?"
"Do you remember what I said to you a while since?"
"About your, marriage, or rather the man you would marry."
"Well, will you promise me one thing?"
"Yes; what is it?"
"To consult me when you receive a proposal and to accept no one
without asking my advice."
"Yes, I will gladly."
"And it is to be a secret between usnot a word to your father or
"Not a word."
Rival approached them saying: "Mademoiselle, your father wants you
in the ballroom."
She said: "Come, Bel-Ami," but he refused, for he had decided to
leave at once, wishing to be alone with his thoughts. He went in
search of his wife, and found her drinking chocolate at the buffet
with two strange men. She introduced her husband without naming them.
In a short while, he asked: "Shall we go?"
"Whenever you like."
She took his arm and they passed through the almost deserted rooms.
Madeleine asked: "Where is Mme. Walter; I should like to bid her
"It is unnecessary. She would try to keep us in the ballroom, and I
have had enough."
"You are right."
On the way home they did not speak. But when they had entered their
room, Madeleine, without even taking off her veil, said to him with a
smile: "I have a surprise for you."
He growled ill-naturedly: "What is it?"
"I cannot make the effort."
"The day after to-morrow is the first of January."
"It is the season for New Year's gifts."
"Here is yours, which Laroche handed me just now." She gave him a
small black box which resembled a jewel-casket.
He opened it indifferently and saw the cross of the Legion of
Honor. He turned a trifle pale, then smiled, and said: "I should have
preferred ten millions. That did not cost him much."
She had expected a transport of delight and was irritated by his
"You are incomprehensible. Nothing seems to satisfy you."
He replied calmly: "That man is only paying his debts; he owes me a
great deal more."
She was astonished at his tone, and said: "It is very nice,
however, at your age."
He replied: "I should have much more."
He took the casket, placed it on the mantelpiece, and looked for
some minutes at the brilliant star within it, then he closed it with
a shrug of his shoulders and began to prepare to retire.
"L'Officiel" of January 1 announced that M. Prosper Georges du Roy
had been decorated with the Legion of Honor for exceptional services.
The name was written in two words, and that afforded Georges more
pleasure than the decoration itself.
An hour after having read that notice, he received a note from Mme.
Walter, inviting him to come and bring his wife to dine with them
that evening, to celebrate his distinction.
At first he hesitated, then throwing the letter in the fire, he
said to Madeleine: "We shall dine at the Walters' this evening."
In her surprise she exclaimed: "Why, I thought you would never set
your foot in their house again."
His sole reply was: "I have changed my mind."
When they arrived at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, they found Mme.
Walter alone in the dainty boudoir in which she received her intimate
friends. She was dressed in black and her hair was powdered. At a
distance she appeared like an old lady, in proximity, like a youthful
"Are you in mourning?" asked, Madeleine.
She replied sadly: "Yes and no. I have lost none of my relatives,
but I have arrived at an age when one should wear somber colors. I
wear it to-day to inaugurate it; hitherto I have worn it in my
The dinner was somewhat tedious. Suzanne alone talked incessantly.
Rose seemed preoccupied. The journalist was overwhelmed with
congratulations, after the meal, when all repaired to the drawing-
rooms. Mme. Walter detained him as they were about to enter the
salon, saying: "I will never speak of anything to you again, only
come to see me, Georges. It is impossible for me to live without you.
I see you, I feel you, in my heart all day and all night. It is as if
I had drunk a poison which preyed upon me. I cannot bear it. I would
rather be as an old woman to you. I powdered my hair for that reason
to-night; but come herecome from time to time as a friend."
He replied calmly: "Very well. It is unnecessary to speak of it
again. You see I came to-day on receipt of your letter."
Walter, who had preceded them, with his two daughters and
Madeleine, awaited Du Roy near the picture of "Christ Walking on the
"Only think," said he, "I found my wife yesterday kneeling before
that painting as if in a chapel. She was praying!"
Mme. Walter replied in a firm voice, in a voice in which vibrated a
secret exaltation: "That Christ will save my soul. He gives me fresh
courage and strength every time that I look at Him." And pausing
before the picture, she murmured: "How beautiful He is! How
frightened those men are, and how they love Him! Look at His head,
His eyes, how simple and supernatural He is at the same time!"
Suzanne cried: "Why, He looks like you, Bel-Ami! I am sure He looks
like you. The resemblance is striking."
She made him stand beside the painting and everyone recognized the
likeness. Du Roy was embarrassed. Walter thought it very singular;
Madeleine, with a smile, remarked that Jesus looked more manly. Mme.
Walter stood by motionless, staring fixedly at her lover's face, her
cheeks as white as her hair.
CHAPTER XVI. DIVORCE
During the remainder of the winter, the Du Roys often visited the
Walters. Georges, too, frequently dined there alone, Madeleine
pleading fatigue and preferring to remain at home. He had chosen
Friday as his day, and Mme. Walter never invited anyone else on that
evening; it belonged to Bel-Ami. Often in a dark corner or behind a
tree in the conservatory, Mme. Walter embraced the young man and
whispered in his ear: "I love you, I love you! I love you
But he always repulsed her coldly, saying: "If you persist in that,
I will not come again."
Toward the end of March people talked of the marriage of the two
sisters: Rose was to marry, Dame Rumor said, Count de Latour-Ivelin
and Suzanne, the Marquis de Cazolles. The subject of Suzanne's
possible marriage had not been broached again between her and Georges
until one morning, the latter having been brought home by M. Walter to
lunch, he whispered to Suzanne: "Come, let us give the fish some
They proceeded to the conservatory in which was the marble basin
containing the fish. As Georges and Suzanne leaned over its edge,
they saw their reflections in the water and smiled at them. Suddenly,
he said in a low voice: "It is not right of you to keep secrets from
"What secrets, Bel-Ami?"
"Do you remember what you promised me here the night of the fete?"
"To consult me every time you received a proposal."
"Well, you have received one!"
"You know very well."
"No, I swear I do not."
"Yes, you do. It is from that fop of a Marquis de Cazolles."
"He is not a fop."
"That may be, but he is stupid. He is no match for you who are so
pretty, so fresh, so bright!"
She asked with a smile: "What have you against him?"
"Yes, you have. He is not all that you say he is."
"He is a fool, and an intriguer."
She glanced at him: "What ails you?"
He spoke as if tearing a secret from the depths of his heart: "I
am- -I am jealous of him."
She was astonished.
"Because I love you and you know it"
Then she said severely: "You are mad, Bel-Ami!"
He replied: "I know that I am! Should I confess itI, a married
man, to you, a young girl? I am worse than madI am culpable,
wretchedI have no possible hope, and that thought almost destroys
my reason. When I hear that you are going to be married, I feel
murder in my heart. You must forgive me, Suzanne."
He paused. The young girl murmured half sadly, half gaily: "It is a
pity that you are married; but what can you do? It cannot be helped."
He turned toward her abruptly and said: "If I were free would you
She replied: "Yes, Bel-Ami, I would marry you because I love you
better than any of the others."
He rose and stammering: "Thanksthanksdo not, I implore you, say
yes to anyone. Wait a while. Promise me."
Somewhat confused, and without comprehending what he asked, she
whispered: "I promise."
Du Roy threw a large piece of bread into the water and fled,
without saying adieu, as if he were beside himself. Suzanne, in
surprise, returned to the salon.
When Du Roy arrived home, he asked Madeleine, who was writing
letters: "Shall you dine at the Walters' Friday? I am going."
She hesitated: "No, I am not well. I prefer to remain here."
"As you like. No one will force you." Then he took up his hat and
For some time he had watched and followed her, knowing all her
actions. The time he had awaited had come at length.
On Friday he dressed early, in order, as he said, to make several
calls before going to M. Walter's. At about six o'clock, after having
kissed his wife, he went in search of a cab. He said to the cabman:
"You can stop at No. 17 Rue Fontaine, and remain there until I order
you to go on. Then you can take me to the restaurant Du Coq- Faisan,
The cab rolled slowly on; Du Roy lowered the shades. When in front
of his house, he kept watch of it. After waiting ten minutes, he saw
Madeleine come out and go toward the boulevards. When she was out of
earshot, he put his head out of the window and cried: "Go on!"
The cab proceeded on its way and stopped at the Coq-Faisan. Georges
entered the dining-room and ate slowly, looking at his watch from
time to time. At seven-thirty he left and drove to Rue La
Rochefoucauld. He mounted to the third story of a house in that
street, and asked the maid who opened the door: "Is M. Guibert de
Lorme at home?"
He was shown into the drawing-room, and after waiting some time, a
tall man with a military bearing and gray hair entered. He was the
Du Roy bowed, then said: "As I suspected, my wife is with her lover
in furnished apartments they have rented on Rue des Martyrs."
The magistrate bowed: "I am at your service, sir."
"Very well, I have a cab below." And with three other officers they
proceeded to the house in which Du Roy expected to surprise his wife.
One officer remained at the door to watch the exit; on the second
floor they halted; Du Roy rang the bell and they waited. In two or
three minutes Georges rang again several times in succession. They
heard a light step approach, and a woman's voice, evidently disguised,
"Who is there?"
The police officer replied: "Open in the name of the law."
The voice repeated: "Who are you?"
"I am the police commissioner. Open, or I will force the door."
The voice continued: "What do you want?"
Du Roy interrupted: "It is I; it is useless to try to escape us."
The footsteps receded and then returned. Georges said: "If you do
not open, we will force the door."
Receiving no reply he shook the door so violently that the old lock
gave way, and the young man almost fell over Madeleine, who was
standing in the antechamber in her petticoat, her hair loosened, her
feet bare, and a candle in her hand.
He exclaimed: "It is she. We have caught them," and he rushed into
the room. The commissioner turned to Madeleine, who had followed them
through the rooms, in one of which were the remnants of a supper, and
looking into her eyes said:
"You are Mme. Claire Madeleine du Roy, lawful wife of M. Prosper
Georges du Roy, here present?"
She replied: "Yes, sir."
"What are you doing here?"
She made no reply. The officer repeated his question; still she did
not reply. He waited several moments and then said: "If you do not
confess, Madame, I shall be forced to inquire into the matter."
They could see a man's form concealed beneath the covers of the
bed. Du Roy advanced softly and uncovered the livid face of M.
The officer again asked: "Who are you?"
As the man did not reply, he continued: "I am the police
commissioner and I call upon you to tell me your name. If you do not
answer, I shall be forced to arrest you. In any case, rise. I will
interrogate you when you are dressed."
In the meantime Madeleine had regained her composure, and seeing
that all was lost, she was determined to put a brave face upon the
matter. Her eyes sparkled with the audacity of bravado, and taking a
piece of paper she lighted the ten candles in the candelabra as if
for a reception. That done, she leaned against the mantelpiece, took
a cigarette out of a case, and began to smoke, seeming not to see her
In the meantime the man in the bed had dressed himself and
advanced. The officer turned to him: "Now, sir, will you tell me who
He made no reply.
"I see I shall have to arrest you."
Then the man cried: "Do not touch me. I am inviolable."
Du Roy rushed toward him exclaiming: "I can have you arrested if I
want to!" Then he added: "This man's name is Laroche-Mathieu,
minister of foreign affairs."
The officer retreated and stammered: "Sir, will you tell me who you
"For once that miserable fellow has not lied. I am indeed Laroche-
Mathieu, minister," and pointing to Georges' breast, he added, "and
that scoundrel wears upon his coat the cross of honor which I gave
Du Roy turned pale. With a rapid gesture he tore the decoration
from his buttonhole and throwing it in the fire exclaimed: "That is
what a decoration is worth which is given by a scoundrel of your
The commissioner stepped between them, as they stood face to face,
saying: "Gentlemen, you forget yourselves and your dignity."
Madeleine smoked on calmly, a smile hovering about her lips. The
officer continued: "Sir, I have surprised you alone with Mme. du Roy
under suspicious circumstances; what have you to say?"
"Nothing; do your duty."
The commissioner turned to Madeleine: "Do you confess, Madame, that
this gentleman is your lover?"
She replied boldly: "I do not deny it. That is sufficient."
The magistrate made several notes; when he had finished writing,
the minister, who stood ready, coat upon arm, hat in hand, asked: "Do
you need me any longer, sir? Can I go?"
Du Roy addressed him with an insolent smile: "Why should you go, we
have finished; we will leave you alone together." Then, taking the
officer's arm, he said: "Let us go, sir; we have nothing more to do
in this place."
An hour later Georges du Roy entered the office of "La Vie
Francaise." M. Walter was there; he raised his head and asked: "What,
are you here? Why are you not dining at my house? Where have you come
Georges replied with emphasis: "I have just found out something
about the minister of foreign affairs."
"I found him alone with my wife in hired apartments. The
commissioner of police was my witness. The minister is ruined."
"Are you not jesting?"
"No, I am not. I shall even write an article on it."
"What is your object?"
"To overthrow that wretch, that public malefactor."
Georges placed his hat upon a chair and added: "Woe to those whom I
find in my path. I never pardon."
The manager stammered: "But your wife?"
"I shall apply for a divorce at once."
"Yes, I am master of the situation. I shall be free. I have a
stated income. I shall offer myself as a candidate in October in my
native district, where I am known. I could not win any respect were I
to be hampered with a wife whose honor was sullied. She took me for a
simpleton, but since I have known her game, I have watched her, and
now I shall get on, for I shall be free."
"I will write the item; it must be handled prudently."
The old man hesitated, then said: "Do so: it serves those right who
are caught in such scrapes."
CHAPTER XVII. THE FINAL PLOT
Three months had elapsed. Georges du Roy's divorce had been
obtained. His wife had resumed the name of Forestier.
As the Walters were going to Trouville on the fifteenth of July,
they decided to spend a day in the country before starting.
The day chosen was Thursday, and they set out at nine o'clock in
the morning in a large six-seated carriage drawn by four horses. They
were going to lunch at Saint-Germain. Bel-Ami had requested that he
might be the only young man in the party, for he could not bear the
presence of the Marquis de Cazolles. At the last moment, however, it
was decided that Count de Latour-Ivelin should go, for he and Rose
had been betrothed a month. The day was delightful. Georges, who was
very pale, gazed at Suzanne as they sat in the carriage and their
Mme. Walter was contented and happy. The luncheon was a long and
merry one. Before leaving for Paris, Du Roy proposed a walk on the
terrace. They stopped on the way to admire the view; as they passed
on, Georges and Suzanne lingered behind. The former whispered softly:
"Suzanne, I love you madly."
She whispered in return: "I love you too, Bel-Ami."
He continued: "If I cannot have you for my wife, I shall leave the
She replied: "Ask papa. Perhaps he will consent."
He answered impatiently: "No, I repeat that it is useless; the door
of the house would be closed against me. I would lose my position on
the journal, and we would not even meet. Those are the consequences a
formal proposal would produce. They have promised you to the Marquis
de Cazolles; they hope you will finally say 'yes' and they are
"What can we do?"
"Have you the courage to brave your father and mother for my sake?"
"Well! There is only one way. It must come from you and not from
me. You are an indulged child; they let you say anything and are not
surprised at any audacity on your part. Listen, then! This evening on
returning home, go to your mother first, and tell her that you want to
marry me. She will be very much agitated and very angry."
Suzanne interrupted him: "Oh, mamma would be glad."
He replied quickly: "No, no, you do not know her. She will be more
vexed than your father. But you must insist, you must not yield; you
must repeat that you will marry me and me alone. Will you do so?"
"And on leaving your mother, repeat the same thing to your father
"Well, and then"
"And then matters will reach a climax! If you are determined to be
my wife, my dear, dear, little Suzanne, I will elope with you."
She clapped her hands, as all the charming adventures in the
romances she had read occurred to her, and cried:
"Oh, what bliss! When will you elope with me?"
He whispered very low: "To-night!"
"Where shall we go?"
"That is my secret. Think well of what you are doing. Remember that
after that flight you must become my wife. It is the only means, but
it is dangerousvery dangerousfor you."
"I have decided. Where shall I meet you?"
"Meet me about midnight in the Place de la Concorde."
"I will be there."
He clasped her hand. "Oh, how I love you! How brave and good you
are! Then you do not want to marry Marquis de Cazolles?"
Mme. Walter, turning her head, called out: "Come, little one; what
are you and Bel-Ami doing?"
They rejoined the others and returned by way of Chatou. When the
carriage arrived at the door of the mansion, Mme. Walter pressed
Georges to dine with them, but he refused, and returned home to look
over his papers and destroy any compromising letters. Then he
repaired in a cab with feverish haste to the place of meeting. He
waited there some time, and thinking his ladylove had played him
false, he was about to drive off, when a gentle voice whispered at
the door of his cab: "Are you there, Bel-Ami?"
"Is it you, Suzanne?"
"Ah, get in." She entered the cab and he bade the cabman drive on.
He asked: "Well, how did it all pass off?"
She murmured faintly:
"Oh, it was terrible, with mamma especially."
"Your mamma? What did she say? Tell me!"
"Oh, it was frightful! I entered her room and made the little
speech I had prepared. She turned pale and cried: 'Never!' I wept, I
protested that I would marry only you; she was like a mad woman; she
vowed I should be sent to a convent. I never saw her like that,
never. Papa, hearing her agitated words, entered. He was not as angry
as she was, but he said you were not a suitable match for me. As they
had vexed me, I talked louder than they, and papa with a dramatic air
bade me leave the room. That decided me to fly with you. And here I
am; where shall we go?"
He replied, encircling her waist with his arm: "It is too late to
take the train; this cab will take us to Sevres where we can spend
the night, and to-morrow we will leave for La Roche-Guyon. It is a
pretty village on the banks of the Seine between Mantes and
The cab rolled on. Georges took the young girl's hand and kissed it
respectfully. He did not know what to say to her, being unaccustomed
to Platonic affection. Suddenly he perceived that she was weeping. He
asked in affright:
"What ails you, my dear little one?"
She replied tearfully: "I was thinking that poor mamma could not
sleep if she had found out that I was gone!"
* * * * * * *
Her mother indeed was not asleep.
When Suzanne left the room, Mine. Walter turned to her husband and
asked in despair: "What does that mean?"
"It means that that intriguer has influenced her. It is he who has
made her refuse Cazolles. You have flattered and cajoled him, too. It
was Bel-Ami here, Bel-Ami there, from morning until night. Now you are
paid for it!"
"Yes, you. You are as much infatuated with him as Madeleine,
Suzanne, and the rest of them. Do you think that I did not see that
you could not exist for two days without him?"
She rose tragically: "I will not allow you to speak to me thus. You
forget that I was not brought up like you, in a shop."
With an oath, he left the room, banging the door behind him.
When he was gone, she thought over all that had taken place.
Suzanne was in love with Bel-Ami, and Bel-Ami wanted to marry Suzanne!
No, it was not true! She was mistaken; he would not be capable of such
an action; he knew nothing of Suzanne's escapade. They would take
Suzanne away for six months and that would end it.
She rose, saying: "I cannot rest in this uncertainty. I shall lose
my reason. I will arouse Suzanne and question her."
She proceeded to her daughter's room. She entered; it was empty;
the bed had not been slept in. A horrible suspicion possessed her and
she flew to her husband. He was in bed, reading.
She gasped: "Have you seen Suzanne?"
"She isgone! she is not in her room."
With one bound he was out of bed; he rushed to his daughter's room;
not finding her there, he sank into a chair. His wife had followed
"Well?" she asked.
He had not the strength to reply: he was no longer angry; he
groaned: "He has herwe are lost."
"Why, he must marry her now!"
She cried wildly: "Marry her, never! Are you mad?"
He replied sadly: "It will do no good to yell! He has disgraced
her. The best thing to be done is to give her to him, and at once,
too; then no one will know of this escapade."
She repeated in great agitation: "Never; he shall never have
Overcome, Walter murmured: "But he has her. And he will keep her as
long as we do not yield; therefore, to avoid a scandal we must do so
But his wife replied: "No, no, I will never consent."
Impatiently he returned: "It is a matter of necessity. Ah, the
scoundrelhow he has deceived us! But he is shrewd at any rate. She
might have done better as far as position, but not intelligence and
future, is concerned. He is a promising young man. He will be a
deputy or a minister some day."
Mme. Walter, however, repeated wildly: "I will never let him marry
Suzanne! Do you hearnever!"
In his turn he became incensed, and like a practical man defended
Bel-Ami. "Be silent! I tell you he must marry her! And who knows?
Perhaps we shall not regret it! With men of his stamp one never knows
what may come about. You saw how he downed Laroche-Mathieu in three
articles, and that with a dignity which was very difficult to maintain
in his position as husband. So, we shall see."
Mme. Walter felt a desire to cry aloud and tear her hair. But she
only repeated angrily: "He shall not have her!"
Walter rose, took up his lamp, and said: "You are silly, like all
women! You only act on impulse. You do not know how to accommodate
yourself to circumstances. You are stupid! I tell you he shall marry
her; it is essential." And he left the room.
Mme. Walter remained alone with her suffering, her despair. If only
a priest were at hand! She would cast herself at his feet and confess
all her errors and her agonyhe would prevent the marriage! Where
could she find a priest? Where should she turn? Before her eyes
floated, like a vision, the calm face of "Christ Walking on the
Water," as she had seen it in the painting. He seemed to say to her:
"Come unto Me. Kneel at My feet. I will comfort and instruct you as
to what to do."
She took the lamp and sought the conservatory; she opened the door
leading into the room which held the enormous canvas, and fell upon
her knees before it. At first she prayed fervently, but as she raised
her eyes and saw the resemblance to Bel-Ami, she murmured:
"JesusJesus" while her thoughts were with her daughter and her
lover. She uttered a wild cry, as she pictured them togetheralone-
-and fell into a swoon. When day broke they found Mme. Walter still
lying unconscious before the painting. She was so ill, after that,
that her life was almost despaired of.
M. Walter explained his daughter's absence to the servants by
saying to them that she had been sent to a convent for a short time.
Then he replied to a long letter from Du Roy, giving his consent to
his marriage with his daughter. Bel-Ami had posted that epistle when
he left Paris, having prepared it the night of his departure. In it he
said in respectful terms that he had loved the young girl a long
time; that there had never been any understanding between them, but
that as she came to him to say: "I will be your wife," he felt
authorized in keeping her, in hiding her, in fact, until he had
obtained a reply from her parents, whose wishes were to him of more
value than those of his betrothed.
Georges and Suzanne spent a week at La Roche-Guyon. Never had the
young girl enjoyed herself so thoroughly. As she passed for his
sister, they lived in a chaste and free intimacy, a kind of living
companionship. He thought it wiser to treat her with respect, and
when he said to her: "We will return to Paris to-morrow; your father
has bestowed your hand upon me" she whispered naively: "Already? This
is just as pleasant as being your wife."
CHAPTER XVIII. ATTAINMENT
It was dark in the apartments in the Rue de Constantinople, when
Georges du Roy and Clotilde de Marelle, having met at the door,
entered them. Without giving him time to raise the shades, the latter
"So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter?"
He replied in the affirmative, adding gently: "Did you not know
She answered angrily: "So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter?
For three months you have deceived me. Everyone knew of it but me. My
husband told me. Since you left your wife you have been preparing for
that stroke, and you made use of me in the interim. What a rascal you
He asked: "How do you make that out? I had a wife who deceived me;
I surprised her, obtained a divorce, and am now going to marry
another. What is more simple than that?"
She murmured: "What a villain!"
He said with dignity: "I beg of you to be more careful as to what
She rebelled at such words from him: "What! Would you like me to
handle you with gloves? You have conducted yourself like a rascal
ever since I have known you, and now you do not want me to speak of
it. You deceive everyone; you gather pleasure and money everywhere,
and you want me to treat you as an honest man."
He rose; his lips twitched: "Be silent or I will make you leave
She cried: "Leave hereyou will make meyou? You forget that it
is I who have paid for these apartments from the very first, and you
threaten to put me out of them. Be silent, good-for-nothing! Do you
think I do not know how you stole a portion of Vaudrec's bequest from
Madeleine? Do you think I do not know about Suzanne?"
He seized her by her shoulders and shook her. "Do not speak of
that; I forbid you."
"I know you have ruined her!"
He would have taken anything else, but that lie exasperated him. He
repeated: "Be silenttake care"and he shook her as he would have
shaken the bough of a tree. Still she continued; "You were her ruin,
I know it." He rushed upon her and struck her as if she had been a
man. Suddenly she ceased speaking, and groaned beneath his blows.
Finally he desisted, paced the room several times in order to regain
his self-possession, entered the bedroom, filled the basin with cold
water and bathed his head. Then he washed his hands and returned to
see what Clotilde was doing. She had not moved. She lay upon the
floor weeping softly. He asked harshly:
"Will you soon have done crying?"
She did not reply. He stood in the center of the room, somewhat
embarrassed, somewhat ashamed, as he saw the form lying before him.
Suddenly he seized his hat. "Good evening. You can leave the key with
the janitor when you are ready. I will not await your pleasure."
He left the room, closed the door, sought the porter, and said to
him: "Madame is resting. She will go out soon. You can tell the
proprietor that I have given notice for the first of October."
His marriage was fixed for the twentieth; it was to take place at
the Madeleine. There had been a great deal of gossip about the entire
affair, and many different reports were circulated. Mme. Walter had
aged greatly; her hair was gray and she sought solace in religion.
In the early part of September "La Vie Francaise" announced that
Baron du Roy de Cantel had become its chief editor, M. Walter
reserving the title of manager. To that announcement were subjoined
the names of the staff of art and theatrical critics, political
reporters, and so forth. Journalists no longer sneered in speaking of
"La Vie Francaise;" its success had been rapid and complete. The
marriage of its chief editor was what was called a "Parisian event,"
Georges du Roy and the Walters having occasioned much comment for
The ceremony took place on a clear, autumn day. At ten o'clock the
curious began to assemble; at eleven o'clock, detachments of officers
came to disperse the crowd. Soon after, the first guests arrived; they
were followed by others, women in rich costumes, men, grave and
dignified. The church slowly began to fill. Norbert de Varenne espied
Jacques Rival, and joined him.
"Well," said he, "sharpers always succeed."
His companion, who was not envious, replied: "So much the better
for him. His fortune is made."
Rival asked: "Do you know what has become of his wife?"
The poet smiled. "Yes and noshe lives a very retired life, I have
been told, in the Montmartre quarter. Butthere is a butfor some
time I have read political articles in 'La Plume,' which resemble
those of Forestier and Du Roy. They are supposed to be written by a
Jean Le Dol, a young, intelligent, handsome mansomething like our
friend Georgeswho has become acquainted with Mme. Forestier. From
that I have concluded that she likes beginners and that they like
her. She is, moreover, rich; Vaudrec and Laroche-Mathieu were not
attentive to her for nothing."
Rival asked: "Tell me, is it true that Mme. Walter and Du Roy do
"Yes. She did not wish to give him her daughter's hand. But he
threatened the old man with shocking revelations. Walter remembered
Laroche-Mathieu's fate and yielded at once; but his wife, obstinate
like all women, vowed that she would never address a word to her
son-in-law. It is comical to see them together! She looks like the
statue of vengeance, and he is very uncomfortable, although he tries
to appear at his ease."
Suddenly the beadle struck the floor three times with his staff.
All the people turned to see what was coming, and the young bride
appeared in the doorway leaning upon her father's arm. She looked
like a beautiful doll, crowned with a wreath of orange blossoms. She
advanced with bowed head. The ladies smiled and murmured as she
passed them. The men whispered:
M. Walter walked by her side with exaggerated dignity. Behind them
came four maids of honor dressed in pink and forming a charming court
for so dainty a queen.
Mme. Walter followed on the arm of Count de Latour-Ivelin's aged
father. She did not walk; she dragged herself along, ready to faint
at every step. She had aged and grown thinner.
Next came Georges du Roy with an old lady, a stranger. He held his
head proudly erect and wore upon his coat, like a drop of blood, the
red ribbon of the Legion of Honor.
He was followed by the relatives: Rose, who had been married six
weeks, with a senator; Count de Latour-Ivelin with Viscountess de
Percemur. Following them was a motley procession of associates and
friends of Du Roy, country cousins of Mme. Walter's, and guests
invited by her husband.
The tones of the organ filled the church; the large doors at the
entrance were closed, and Georges kneeled beside his bride in the
choir. The new bishop of Tangiers, cross in hand, miter on head,
entered from the sacristy, to unite them in the name of the Almighty.
He asked the usual questions, rings were exchanged, words pronounced
which bound them forever, and then he delivered an address to the
newly married couple.
The sound of stifled sobs caused several to turn their heads. Mme.
Walter was weeping, her face buried in her hands. She had been
obliged to yield; but since the day on which she had told Du Roy:
"You are the vilest man I know; never speak to me again, for I will
not answer you," she had suffered intolerable anguish. She hated
Suzanne bitterly; her hatred was caused by unnatural jealousy. The
bishop was marrying a daughter to her mother's lover, before her and
two thousand persons, and she could say nothing; she could not stop
him. She could not cry: "He is mine, that man is my lover. That union
you are blessing is infamous."
Several ladies, touched by her apparent grief, murmured: "How
affected that poor mother is!"
The bishop said: "You are among the favored ones of the earth. You,
sir, who are raised above others by your talentyou who write,
instruct, counsel, guide the people, have a grand mission to
fulfilla fine example to set."
Du Roy listened to him proudly. A prelate of the Roman Church spoke
thus to him. A number of illustrious people had come thither on his
account. It seemed to him that an invisible power was impelling him
on. He would become one of the masters of the countryhe, the son of
the poor peasants of Canteleu. He had given his parents five thousand
francs of Count de Vaudrec's fortune and he intended sending them
fifty thousand more; then they could buy a small estate and live
The bishop had finished his harangue, a priest ascended the altar,
and the organ pealed forth. Suddenly the vibrating tones melted into
delicate, melodious ones, like the songs of birds; then again they
swelled into deep, full tones and human voices chanted over their
bowed heads. Vauri and Landeck of the Opera were singing.
Bel-Ami, kneeling beside Suzanne, bowed his head. At that moment he
felt almost pious, for he was filled with gratitude for the blessings
showered upon him. Without knowing just whom he was addressing, he
offered up thanks for his success. When the ceremony was over, he
rose, and, giving his arm to his wife, they passed into the sacristy.
A stream of people entered. Georges fancied himself a king whom the
people were coming to greet. He shook hands, uttered words which
signified nothing, and replied to congratulations with the words: "You
are very kind."
Suddenly he saw Mme. de Marelle, and the recollection of all the
kisses he had given her and which she had returned, of all their
caresses, of the sound of her voice, possessed him with the mad
desire to regain her. She was so pretty, with her bright eyes and
roguish air! She advanced somewhat timidly and offered him her hand.
He took, retained, and pressed it as if to say: "I shall love you
always, I am yours."
Their eyes met, smiling, bright, full of love. She murmured in her
soft tones: "Until we meet again, sir!" and he gaily repeated her
Others approached, and she passed on. Finally the throng dispersed.
Georges placed Suzanne's hand upon his arm to pass through the church
with her. It was filled with people, for all had resumed their seats
in order to see them leave the sacred edifice together. He walked
along slowly, with a firm step, his head erect. He saw no one. He only
thought of himself.
When they reached the threshold he saw a crowd gathered outside,
come to gaze at him, Georges du Roy. The people of Paris envied him.
Raising his eyes, he saw beyond the Place de la Concorde, the chamber
of deputies, and it seemed to him that it was only a stone's throw
from the portico of the Madeleine to that of the Palais Bourbon.
Leisurely they descended the steps between two rows of spectators,
but Georges did not see them; his thoughts had returned to the past,
and before his eyes, dazzled by the bright sunlight, floated the
image of Mme. de Marelle, rearranging the curly locks upon her
temples before the mirror in their apartments.