But why do you no longer ever come to see me?
Why do you refuse to come to dinner, even once a week, with me?
What I suffer is fearful. I love you to that degree that I no longer have a thought that is not for you; that I see you continually before my eyes; that I can no longer say a word without being afraid of uttering your name.
You cannot understand that, I know.
It seems to me that I am seized in some one's clutches, tied up in a sack, I don't know what.
Your remembrance, always with me, clutches my throat, tears my chest, breaks my legs so as to no longer leave me strength to walk.
And I remain like an animal sitting all day on a chair thinking of you."
He looked at her with astonishment.
She was no longer the big frolicsome tomboy he had known, but a bewildered despairing woman, capable of anything.
A vague project, however, arose in his mind.
He replied: "My dear, love is not eternal.
We take and we leave one another.
But when it drags on, as between us two, it becomes a terrible drag.
I will have no more of it.
That is the truth.
However, if you can be reasonable, and receive and treat me as a friend, I will come as I used to.
Do you feel capable of that?"
She placed her two bare arms on George's coat, and murmured: "I am capable of anything in order to see you."
"Then it is agreed on," said he; "we are friends, and nothing more."
She stammered: "It is agreed on;" and then, holding out her lips to him:
"One more kiss; the last."
He refused gently, saying: "No, we must keep to our agreement."
She turned aside, wiping away a couple of tears, and then, drawing from her bosom a bundle of papers tied with pink silk ribbon, offered it to Du Roy, saying:
"Here; it is your share of the profit in the Morocco affair.
I was so pleased to have gained it for you.
Here, take it."
He wanted to refuse, observing:
"No, I will not take that money."
Then she grew indignant.
"Ah! so you won't take it now.
It is yours, yours, only.
If you do not take it, I will throw it into the gutter.
You won't act like that, George?"
He received the little bundle, and slipped it into his pocket.
"We must go in," said he, "you will catch cold."
She murmured: "So much the better, if I could die."
She took one of his hands, kissed it passionately, with rage and despair, and fled towards the mansion.
He returned, quietly reflecting.
Then he re-entered the conservatory with haughty forehead and smiling lip.
His wife and Laroche-Mathieu were no longer there.
The crowd was thinning.
It was becoming evident that they would not stay for the dance.
He perceived Susan arm-in-arm with her sister.
They both came towards him to ask him to dance the first quadrille with the Count de Latour Yvelin.
He was astonished, and asked: "Who is he, too?"
Susan answered maliciously: "A new friend of my sister's."
Rose blushed, and murmured:
"You are very spiteful, Susan; he is no more my friend than yours."
Susan smiled, saying: "Oh! I know all about it."
Rose annoyed, turned her back on them and went away.