Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


He wanted to show his pride.

The very day of the exhibition of the picture, as Madeleine pointed out to him that he was very wrong not to go, he replied:

"Hold your tongue.

I shall stay at home."

Then after dinner he suddenly said:

"It will be better after all to undergo this affliction.

Get dressed at once."

She was expecting this, and said:

"I will be ready in a quarter of an hour."

He dressed growling, and even in the cab he continued to spit out his spleen.

The court-yard of the Carlsbourg mansion was lit up by four electric lights, looking like four small bluish moons, one at each corner.

A splendid carpet was laid down the high flight of steps, on each of which a footman in livery stood motionless as a statue.

Du Roy muttered: "Here's a fine show-off for you," and shrugged his shoulders, his heart contracted by jealousy.

His wife said: "Be quiet and do likewise."

They went in and handed their heavy outer garments to the footmen who advanced to meet them.

Several ladies were also there with their husbands, freeing themselves from their furs.

Murmurs of:

"It is very beautiful, very beautiful," could be heard.

The immense entrance hall was hung with tapestry, representing the adventures of Mars and Venus.

To the right and left were the two branches of a colossal double staircase, which met on the first floor.

The banisters were a marvel of wrought-iron work, the dull old gilding of which glittered with discreet luster beside the steps of pink marble.

At the entrance to the reception-rooms two little girls, one in a pink folly costume, and the other in a blue one, offered a bouquet of flowers to each lady.

This was held to be charming.

The reception-rooms were already crowded.

Most of the ladies were in outdoor dress, showing that they came there as to any other exhibition.

Those who intended remaining for the ball were bare armed and bare necked.

Madame Walter, surrounded by her friends, was in the second room acknowledging the greetings of the visitors.

Many of these did not know her, and walked about as though in a museum, without troubling themselves about the masters of the house.

When she perceived Du Roy she grew livid, and made a movement as though to advance towards him. Then she remained motionless, awaiting him.

He greeted her ceremoniously, while Madeleine overwhelmed her with affection and compliments.

Then George left his wife with her and lost himself in the crowd, to listen to the spiteful things that assuredly must be said.

Five reception-rooms opened one into the other, hung with costly stuffs, Italian embroideries, or oriental rugs of varying shades and styles, and bearing on their walls pictures by old masters.

People stopped, above all, to admire a small room in the Louis XVI style, a kind of boudoir, lined with silk, with bouquets of roses on a pale blue ground.

The furniture, of gilt wood, upholstered in the same material, was admirably finished.

George recognized some well-known people--the Duchess de Ferracine, the Count and Countess de Ravenal, General Prince d'Andremont, the beautiful Marchioness des Dunes, and all those folk who are seen at first performances.

He was suddenly seized by the arm, and a young and pleased voice murmured in his ear:

"Ah! here you are at last, you naughty Pretty-boy.

How is it one no longer sees you?"

It was Susan Walter, scanning him with her enamel-like eyes from beneath the curly cloud of her fair hair.

He was delighted to see her again, and frankly pressed her hand. Then, excusing himself, he said:

"I have not been able to come.

I have had so much to do during the past two months that I have not been out at all."

She said, with her serious air: "That is wrong, very wrong.

You have caused us a great deal of pain, for we adore you, mamma and I.

As to myself, I cannot get on without you.

When you are not here I am bored to death.

You see I tell you so plainly, so that you may no longer have the right of disappearing like that.

Give me your arm, I will show you

'Jesus Walking on the Waters' myself; it is right away at the end, beyond the conservatory.

Papa had it put there so that they should be obliged to see everything before they could get to it.