Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


When he saw midnight approaching, his impatience became feverish.

Every moment he thrust his head out of the window to look.

A distant clock struck twelve, then another nearer, then two together, then a last one, very far away.

When the latter had ceased to sound, he thought:

"It is all over.

It is a failure.

She won't come."

He had made up his mind, however, to wait till daylight.

In these matters one must be patient.

He heard the quarter strike, then the half-hour, then the quarter to, and all the clocks repeated "one," as they had announced midnight.

He no longer expected her; he was merely remaining, racking his brain to divine what could have happened.

All at once a woman's head was passed through the window, and asked:

"Are you there, Pretty-boy?"

He started, almost choked with emotion,

"Is that you, Susan?"

"Yes, it is I."

He could not manage to turn the handle quickly enough, and repeated:

"Ah! it is you, it is you; come inside."

She came in and fell against him.

He said, "Go on," to the driver, and the cab started.

She gasped, without saying a word.

He asked: "Well, how did it go off?"

She murmured, almost fainting: "Oh! it was terrible, above all with mamma."

He was uneasy and quivering.

"Your mamma.

What did she say?

Tell me."

"Oh! it was awful.

I went into her room and told her my little story that I had carefully prepared.

She grew pale, and then she cried:

'Never, never.'

I cried, I grew angry. I vowed I would marry no one but you.

I thought that she was going to strike me.

She went on just as if she were mad; she declared that I should be sent back to the convent the next day.

I had never seen her like that--never.

Then papa came in, hearing her shouting all her nonsense.

He was not so angry as she was, but he declared that you were not a good enough match.

As they had put me in a rage, too, I shouted louder than they did.

And papa told me to leave the room, with a melodramatic air that did not suit him at all.

This is what decided me to run off with you.

Here I am.

Where are we going to?"

He had passed his arm gently round her and was listening with all his ears, his heart throbbing, and a ravenous hatred awakening within him against these people.

But he had got their daughter.

They should just see.

He answered: "It is too late to catch a train, so this cab will take us to Sevres, where we shall pass the night.

To-morrow we shall start for La Roche-Guyon.

It is a pretty village on the banks of the Seine, between Nantes and Bonnieres."

She murmured: "But I have no clothes. I have nothing."

He smiled carelessly: