Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


Then she began to tell him how she had perceived that she was in love with him on learning that he was going to marry Madeleine Forestier.

She gave details, little details of dates and the like.

Suddenly she paused.

The cab had stopped.

Du Roy opened the door.

"Where are we?" she asked.

"Get out and come into this house," he replied.

"We shall be more at ease there."

"But where are we?"

"At my rooms," and here we will leave them to their _tete-a-tete_.


Autumn had come.

The Du Roys had passed the whole of the summer in Paris, carrying on a vigorous campaign in the _Vie Francaise_ during the short vacation of the deputies.

Although it was only the beginning of October, the Chambers were about to resume their sittings, for matters as regarded Morocco were becoming threatening.

No one at the bottom believed in an expedition against Tangiers, although on the day of the prorogation of the Chamber, a deputy of the Right, Count de Lambert-Serrazin, in a witty speech, applauded even by the Center had offered to stake his moustache, after the example of a celebrated Viceroy of the Indies, against the whiskers of the President of the Council, that the new Cabinet could not help imitating the old one, and sending an army to Tangiers, as a pendant to that of Tunis, out of love of symmetry, as one puts two vases on a fireplace.

He had added: "Africa is indeed, a fireplace for France, gentleman--a fireplace which consumes our best wood; a fireplace with a strong draught, which is lit with bank notes.

You have had the artistic fancy of ornamenting the left-hand corner with a Tunisian knick-knack which had cost you dear. You will see that Monsieur Marrot will want to imitate his predecessor, and ornament the right-hand corner with one from Morocco."

This speech, which became famous, served as a peg for Du Roy for a half a score of articles upon the Algerian colony--indeed, for the entire series broken short off after his _debut_ on the paper.

He had energetically supported the notion of a military expedition, although convinced that it would not take place.

He had struck the chord of patriotism, and bombarded Spain with the entire arsenal of contemptuous arguments which we make use of against nations whose interests are contrary to our own.

The _Vie Francaise_ had gained considerable importance through its own connection with the party in office.

It published political intelligence in advance of the most important papers, and hinted discreetly the intentions of its friends the Ministry, so that all the papers of Paris and the provinces took their news from it.

It was quoted and feared, and people began to respect it.

It was no longer the suspicious organ of a knot of political jugglers, but the acknowledged one of the Cabinet.

Laroche-Mathieu was the soul of the paper, and Du Roy his mouthpiece.

Daddy Walter, a silent member and a crafty manager, knowing when to keep in the background, was busying himself on the quiet, it is said, with an extensive transaction with some copper mines in Morocco.

Madeleine's drawing-room had been an influential center, in which several members of the Cabinet met every week.

The President of the Council had even dined twice at her house, and the wives of the statesmen who had formerly hesitated to cross her threshold now boasted of being her friends, and paid her more visits than were returned by her.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs reigned almost as a master in the household.

He called at all hours, bringing dispatches, news, items of information, which he dictated either to the husband or the wife, as if they had been his secretaries.

When Du Roy, after the minister's departure, found himself alone with Madeleine, he would break out in a menacing tone with bitter insinuations against the goings-on of this commonplace parvenu.

But she would shrug her shoulders contemptuously, repeating:

"Do as much as he has done yourself.

Become a minister, and you can have your own way.

Till then, hold your tongue."

He twirled his moustache, looking at her askance:

"People do not know of what I am capable," he said, "They will learn it, perhaps, some day."

She replied, philosophically: "Who lives long enough will see it."

The morning on which the Chambers reassembled the young wife, still in bed, was giving a thousand recommendations to her husband, who was dressing himself in order to lunch with M. Laroche-Mathieu, and receive his instructions prior to the sitting for the next day's political leader in the _Vie Francaise_, this leader being meant to be a kind of semi-official declaration of the real objects of the Cabinet.

Madeleine was saying: "Above all, do not forget to ask him whether General Belloncle is to be sent to Oran, as has been reported.

That would mean a great deal."

George replied irritably: "But I know just as well as you what I have to do. Spare me your preaching."

She answered quietly: "My dear, you always forget half the commissions I entrust you with for the minister."

He growled: "He worries me to death, that minister of yours.

He is a nincompoop."

She remarked quietly: "He is no more my minister than he is yours.

He is more useful to you than to me."

He turned half round towards her, saying, sneeringly: "I beg your pardon, but he does not pay court to me."

She observed slowly: "Nor to me either; but he is making our fortune."

He was silent for a few moments, and then resumed: "If I had to make a choice among your admirers, I should still prefer that old fossil De Vaudrec.