Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)

Pause

He divined a suitor.

He was taken by the arm.

It was Norbert de Varenne.

The old poet was airing his long hair and worn dress-coat with a weary and indifferent air.

"This is what they call amusing themselves," said he.

"By and by they will dance, and then they will go bed, and the little girls will be delighted.

Have some champagne. It is capital."

He had a glass filled for himself, and bowing to Du Roy, who had taken another, said:

"I drink to the triumph of wit over wealth." Then he added softly: "Not that wealth on the part of others hurts me; or that I am angry at it. But I protest on principle."

George no longer listened to him.

He was looking for Susan, who had just disappeared with the Marquis de Cazolles, and abruptly quitting Norbert de Varenne, set out in pursuit of the young girl.

A dense crowd in quest of refreshments checked him.

When he at length made his way through it, he found himself face to face with the de Marelles.

He was still in the habit of meeting the wife, but he had not for some time past met the husband, who seized both his hands, saying:

"How can I thank you, my dear fellow, for the advice you gave me through Clotilde.

I have gained close on a hundred thousand francs over the Morocco loan.

It is to you I owe them.

You are a valuable friend."

Several men turned round to look at the pretty and elegant brunette.

Du Roy replied: "In exchange for that service, my dear fellow, I am going to take your wife, or rather to offer her my arm.

Husband and wife are best apart, you know."

Monsieur de Marelle bowed, saying:

"You are quite right.

If I lose you, we will meet here in an hour."

"Exactly."

The pair plunged into the crowd, followed by the husband.

Clotilde kept saying: "How lucky these Walters are!

That is what it is to have business intelligence."

George replied: "Bah!

Clever men always make a position one way or another."

She said: "Here are two girls who will have from twenty to thirty millions apiece.

Without reckoning that Susan is pretty."

He said nothing.

His own idea, coming from another's mouth, irritated him.

She had not yet seen the picture of

"Jesus Walking on the Water," and he proposed to take her to it.

They amused themselves by talking scandal of the people they recognized, and making fun of those they did not.

Saint-Potin passed by, bearing on the lapel of his coat a number of decorations, which greatly amused them.

An ex-ambassador following him showed far fewer.

Du Roy remarked: "What a mixed salad of society."

Boisrenard, who shook hands with him, had also adorned his buttonhole with the green and yellow ribbon worn on the day of the duel.

The Viscountess de Percemur, fat and bedecked, was chatting with a duke in the little Louis XVI boudoir.

George whispered: "An amorous _tete-a-tete_."

But on passing through the greenhouse, he noticed his wife seated beside Laroche-Mathieu, both almost hidden behind a clump of plants.

They seemed to be asserting:

"We have appointed a meeting here, a meeting in public.

For we do not care a rap what people think."

Madame de Marelle agreed that the Jesus of Karl Marcowitch was astounding, and they retraced their steps.

They had lost her husband.

George inquired: "And Laurine, is she still angry with me?"