Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


The effect was surprising.

The picture, the sides of which were hidden in the moving foliage, seemed a black spot upon a fantastic and striking horizon.

It had to be carefully looked at in order to understand it.

The frame cut the center of the ship in which were the apostles, scarcely lit up by the oblique rays from a lantern, the full light of which one of them, seated on the bulwarks, was casting upon the approaching Savior.

Jesus was advancing with his foot upon a wave, which flattened itself submissively and caressingly beneath the divine tread.

All was dark about him.

Only the stars shone in the sky.

The faces of the apostles, in the vague light of the lantern, seemed convulsed with surprise.

It was a wonderful and unexpected work of a master; one of those works which agitate the mind and give you something to dream of for years.

People who look at such things at the outset remain silent, and then go thoughtfully away, and only speak later on of the worth of the painting.

Du Roy, having contemplated it for some time, said:

"It is nice to be able to afford such trifles."

But as he was pushed against by others coming to see it, he went away, still keeping on his arm Susan's little hand, which he squeezed slightly.

She said: "Would you like a glass of champagne?

Come to the refreshment buffet.

We shall find papa there."

And they slowly passed back through the saloons, in which the crowd was increasing, noisy and at home, the fashionable crowd of a public fete.

George all at once thought he heard a voice say:

"It is Laroche-Mathieu and Madame Du Roy."

These words flitted past his ear like those distant sounds borne by the wind.

Whence came they?

He looked about on all sides, and indeed saw his wife passing by on the minister's arm.

They were chatting intimately in a low tone, smiling, and with their eyes fixed on one another's.

He fancied he noticed that people whispered as they looked at them, and he felt within him a stupid and brutal desire to spring upon them, these two creatures, and smite them down.

She was making him ridiculous.

He thought of Forestier.

Perhaps they were saying:

"That cuckold Du Roy."

Who was she?

A little parvenu sharp enough, but really not over-gifted with parts.

People visited him because they feared him, because they felt his strength, but they must speak in unrestrained fashion of this little journalistic household.

He would never make any great way with this woman, who would always render his home a suspected one, who would always compromise herself, whose very bearing betrayed the woman of intrigue.

She would now be a cannon ball riveted to his ankle.

Ah! if he had only known, if he had only guessed.

What a bigger game he would have played.

What a fine match he might have won with this little Susan for stakes.

How was it he had been blind enough not to understand that?

They reached the dining-room--an immense apartment, with marble columns, and walls hung with old tapestry.

Walter perceived his descriptive writer, and darted forward to take him by the hands.

He was intoxicated with joy.

"Have you seen everything?

Have you shown him everything, Susan?

What a lot of people, eh, Pretty-boy!

Did you see the Prince de Guerche?

He came and drank a glass of punch here just now," he exclaimed.

Then he darted towards the Senator Rissolin, who was towing along his wife, bewildered, and bedecked like a stall at a fair.

A gentleman bowed to Susan, a tall, thin fellow, slightly bald, with yellow whiskers, and that air of good breeding which is everywhere recognizable.

George heard his name mentioned, the Marquis de Cazolles, and became suddenly jealous of him.

How long had she known him?

Since her accession to wealth, no doubt.