Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


She would then repeat to him in a few words, always the same, that she worshiped and idolized him, and leave him, vowing that she felt so happy to have seen him.

She showed herself quite another creature than he had fancied her, striving to charm him with puerile glances, a childishness in love affairs ridiculous at her age.

Having remained up till then strictly honest, virgin in heart, inaccessible to all sentiment, ignorant of sensuality, a strange outburst of youthful tenderness, of ardent, naive and tardy love, made up of unlooked-for outbursts, exclamations of a girl of sixteen, graces grown old without ever having been young, had taken place in this staid woman.

She wrote him ten letters a day, maddeningly foolish letters, couched in a style at once poetic and ridiculous, full of the pet names of birds and beasts.

As soon as they found themselves alone together she would kiss him with the awkward prettiness of a great tomboy, pouting of the lips that were grotesque, and bounds that made her too full bosom shake beneath her bodice.

He was above all, sickened with hearing her say, "My pet," "My doggie," "My jewel," "My birdie," "My treasure," "My own," "My precious," and to see her offer herself to him every time with a little comedy of infantile modesty, little movements of alarm that she thought pretty, and the tricks of a depraved schoolgirl.

She would ask, "Whose mouth is this?" and when he did not reply "Mine," would persist till she made him grow pale with nervous irritability.

She ought to have felt, it seemed to him, that in love extreme tact, skill, prudence, and exactness are requisite; that having given herself to him, she, a woman of mature years, the mother of a family, and holding a position in society, should yield herself gravely, with a kind of restrained eagerness, with tears, perhaps, but with those of Dido, not of Juliet.

She kept incessantly repeating to him, "How I love you, my little pet.

Do you love me as well, baby?"

He could no longer bear to be called "my little pet," or "baby," without an inclination to call her "old girl."

She would say to him, "What madness of me to yield to you.

But I do not regret it.

It is so sweet to love."

All this seemed to George irritating from her mouth.

She murmured, "It is so sweet to love," like the village maiden at a theater.

Then she exasperated him by the clumsiness of her caresses.

Having become all at once sensual beneath the kisses of this young fellow who had so warmed her blood, she showed an unskilled ardor and a serious application that made Du Roy laugh and think of old men trying to learn to read.

When she would have gripped him in her embrace, ardently gazing at him with the deep and terrible glance of certain aging women, splendid in their last loves, when she should have bitten him with silent and quivering mouth, crushing him beneath her warmth and weight, she would wriggle about like a girl, and lisp with the idea of being pleasant:

"Me love 'ou so, ducky, me love 'ou so.

Have nice lovey-lovey with 'ittle wifey."

He then would be seized with a wild desire to take his hat and rush out, slamming the door behind him.

They had frequently met at the outset at the Rue de Constantinople; but Du Roy, who dreaded a meeting there with Madame de Marelle, now found a thousand pretexts for refusing such appointments.

He had then to call on her almost every day at her home, now to lunch, now to dinner.

She squeezed his hand under the table, held out her mouth to him behind the doors.

But he, for his part, took pleasure above all in playing with Susan, who amused him with her whimsicalities.

In her doll-like frame was lodged an active, arch, sly, and startling wit, always ready to show itself off.

She joked at everything and everybody with biting readiness.

George stimulated her imagination, excited it to irony and they understood one another marvelously.

She kept appealing to him every moment,

"I say, Pretty-boy.

Come here, Pretty-boy."

He would at once leave the mother and go to the daughter, who would whisper some bit of spitefulness, at which they would laugh heartily.

However, disgusted with the mother's love, he began to feel an insurmountable repugnance for her; he could no longer see, hear, or think of her without anger.

He ceased, therefore, to visit her, to answer her letters, or to yield to her appeals.

She understood at length that he no longer loved her, and suffered terribly.

But she grew insatiable, kept watch on him, followed him, waited for him in a cab with the blinds drawn down, at the door of the office, at the door of his dwelling, in the streets through which she hoped he might pass.

He longed to ill-treat her, swear at her, strike her, say to her plainly,

"I have had enough of it, you worry my life out." But he observed some circumspection on account of the _Vie Francaise_, and strove by dint of coolness, harshness, tempered by attention, and even rude words at times, to make her understand that there must be an end to it.

She strove, above all, to devise schemes to allure him to a meeting in the Rue de Constantinople, and he was in a perpetual state of alarm lest the two women should find themselves some day face to face at the door.

His affection for Madame de Marelle had, on the contrary, augmented during the summer.

He called her his "young rascal," and she certainly charmed him.

Their two natures had kindred links; they were both members of the adventurous race of vagabonds, those vagabonds in society who so strongly resemble, without being aware of it, the vagabonds of the highways.

They had had a summer of delightful love-making, a summer of students on the spree, bolting off to lunch or dine at Argenteuil, Bougival, Maisons, or Poissy, and passing hours in a boat gathering flowers from the bank.

She adored the fried fish served on the banks of the Seine, the stewed rabbits, the arbors in the tavern gardens, and the shouts of the boating men.

He liked to start off with her on a bright day on a suburban line, and traverse the ugly environs of Paris, sprouting with tradesmen's hideous boxes, talking lively nonsense.

And when he had to return to dine at Madame Walter's he hated the eager old mistress from the mere recollection of the young one whom he had left, and who had ravished his desires and harvested his ardor among the grass by the water side.

He had fancied himself at length pretty well rid of Madame Walter, to whom he had expressed, in a plain and almost brutal fashion, his intentions of breaking off with her, when he received at the office of the paper the telegram summoning him to meet her at two o'clock at the Rue de Constantinople.

He re-read it as he walked along,

"Must see you to-day. Most important.