Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


It was not yet nine o'clock when he reached the Parc Monceau, fresh from its morning watering.

Sitting down upon a bench he began to dream again.

A well-dressed young man was walking up and down at a short distance, awaiting a woman, no doubt.

Yes, she appeared, close veiled and quick stepping, and taking his arm, after a brief clasp of the hand, they walked away together.

A riotous need of love broke out in Duroy's heart, a need of amours at once distinguished and delicate.

He rose and resumed his journey, thinking of Forestier.

What luck the fellow had!

He reached the door at the moment his friend was coming out of it.

"You here at this time of day.

What do you want of me?"

Duroy, taken aback at meeting him thus, just as he was starting off, stammered:

"You see, you see, I can't manage to write my article; you know the article Monsieur Walter asked me to write on Algeria.

It is not very surprising, considering that I have never written anything.

Practice is needed for that, as for everything else.

I shall get used to it very quickly, I am sure, but I do not know how to set about beginning.

I have plenty of ideas, but I cannot manage to express them."

He stopped, hesitatingly, and Forestier smiled somewhat slyly, saying:

"I know what it is."

Duroy went on: "Yes, it must happen to everyone at the beginning.

Well, I came, I came to ask you for a lift. In ten minutes you can give me a start, you can show me how to shape it.

It will be a good lesson in style you will give me, and really without you I do not see how I can get on with it."

Forestier still smiled, and tapping his old comrade on the arm, said:

"Go in and see my wife; she will settle your business quite as well as I could.

I have trained her for that kind of work.

I, myself, have not time this morning, or I would willingly have done it for you."

Duroy suddenly abashed, hesitated, feeling afraid.

"But I cannot call on her at this time of the day."

"Oh, yes; she is up.

You will find her in my study arranging some notes for me."

Duroy refused to go upstairs, saying:

"No, I can't think of such a thing."

Forestier took him by the shoulders, twisted him round on his heels, and pushing him towards the staircase, said:

"Go along, you great donkey, when I tell you to.

You are not going to oblige me to go up these flights of stairs again to introduce you and explain the fix you are in."

Then Duroy made up his mind.

"Thanks, then, I will go up," he said.

"I shall tell her that you forced me, positively forced me to come and see her."

"All right.

She won't scratch your eyes out.

Above all, do not forget our appointment for three o'clock."

"Oh! don't be afraid about that."

Forestier hastened off, and Duroy began to ascend the stairs slowly, step by step, thinking over what he should say, and feeling uneasy as to his probable reception.

The man servant, wearing a blue apron, and holding a broom in his hand, opened the door to him.

"Master is not at home," he said, without waiting to be spoken to.

Duroy persisted. "Ask Madame Forestier," said he, "whether she will receive me, and tell her that I have come from her husband, whom I met in the street."

Then he waited while the man went away, returned, and opening the door on the right, said:

"Madame will see you, sir."

She was seated in an office armchair in a small room, the walls of which were wholly hidden by books carefully ranged on shelves of black wood.

The bindings, of various tints, red, yellow, green, violet, and blue, gave some color and liveliness to those monotonous lines of volumes.

She turned round, still smiling. She was wrapped in a white dressing gown, trimmed with lace, and as she held out her hand, displayed her bare arm in its wide sleeve.