Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


"He is not a fop, in the first place."

"It may be so, but he is stupid, ruined by play, and worn out by dissipation.

It is really a nice match for you, so pretty, so fresh, and so intelligent."

She inquired, smiling: "What have you against him?"

"I, nothing."

"Yes, you have.

He is not all that you say."


He is a fool and an intriguer."

She turned round somewhat, leaving off looking into the water, and said:

"Come, what is the matter with you?"

He said, as though a secret was being wrenched from the bottom of his heart: "I--I--am jealous of him."

She was slightly astonished, saying:


"Yes, I."

"Why so?"

"Because I am in love with you, and you know it very well, you naughty girl."

She said, in a severe tone: "You are mad, Pretty-boy."

He replied; "I know very well that I am mad.

Ought I to have admitted that--I, a married man, to you, a young girl?

I am more than mad, I am guilty.

I have no possible hope, and the thought of that drives me out of my senses.

And when I hear it said that you are going to be married, I have fits of rage enough to kill someone.

You must forgive me this, Susan."

He was silent.

The whole of the fish, to whom bread was no longer being thrown, were motionless, drawn up in line like English soldiers, and looking at the bent heads of those two who were no longer troubling themselves about them.

The young girl murmured, half sadly, half gayly: "It is a pity that you are married.

What would you?

Nothing can be done.

It is settled."

He turned suddenly towards her, and said right in her face:

"If I were free, would you marry me?"

She replied, in a tone of sincerity: "Yes, Pretty-boy, I would marry you, for you please me far better than any of the others."

He rose, and stammered: "Thanks, thanks; do not say 'yes' to anyone yet, I beg of you; wait a little longer, I entreat you.

Will you promise me this much?"

She murmured, somewhat uneasily, and without understanding what he wanted: "Yes, I promise you."

Du Roy threw the lump of bread he still held in his hand into the water, and fled as though he had lost his head, without wishing her good-bye.

All the fish rushed eagerly at this lump of crumb, which floated, not having been kneaded in the fingers, and nibbled it with greedy mouths.

They dragged it away to the other end of the basin, and forming a moving cluster, a kind of animated and twisting flower, a live flower fallen into the water head downwards.

Susan, surprised and uneasy, got up and returned slowly to the dining-room.

The journalist had left.

He came home very calm, and as Madeleine was writing letters, said to her:

"Are you going to dine at the Walters' on Friday?

I am going."

She hesitated, and replied: "No.

I do not feel very well.

I would rather stay at home."

He remarked: "Just as you like." Then he took his hat and went out again at once.

For some time past he had been keeping watch over her, following her about, knowing all her movements.

The hour he had been awaiting was at length at hand.