Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


They would be satisfied and happy.

The bishop had finished his harangue.

A priest, clad in a golden stole, ascended the steps of the altar, and the organ began anew to celebrate the glory of the newly-wedded couple.

Now it gave forth long, loud notes, swelling like waves, so sonorous and powerful that it seemed as though they must lift and break through the roof to spend abroad into the sky.

Their vibrating sound filled the church, causing body and spirit to thrill.

Then all at once they grew calmer, and delicate notes floated through the air, little graceful, twittering notes, fluttering like birds; and suddenly again this coquettish music waxed once more, in turn becoming terrible in its strength and fullness, as if a grain of sand had transformed itself into a world.

Then human voices rose, and were wafted over the bowed heads--Vauri and Landeck, of the Opera, were singing.

The incense shed abroad a delicate odor, and the Divine Sacrifice was accomplished on the altar, to consecrate the triumph of the Baron George Du Roy!

Pretty-boy, on his knees beside Susan, had bowed his head.

He felt at that moment almost a believer, almost religious; full of gratitude towards the divinity who had thus favored him, who treated him with such consideration.

And without exactly knowing to whom he was addressing himself, he thanked him for his success.

When the ceremony was concluded he rose up, and giving his wife his arm, he passed into the vestry.

Then began the interminable defiling past of the visitors.

George, with wild joy, believed himself a king whom a nation had come to acclaim.

He shook hands, stammered unmeaning remarks, bowed, and replied: "You are very good to say so."

All at once he caught sight of Madame de Marelle, and the recollection of all the kisses that he had given her, and that she had returned; the recollection of all their caresses, of her pretty ways, of the sound of her voice, of the taste of her lips, caused the desire to have her once more for his own to shoot through his veins.

She was so pretty and elegant, with her boyish air and bright eyes.

George thought to himself: "What a charming mistress, all the same."

She drew near, somewhat timid, somewhat uneasy, and held out her hand.

He took it in his, and retained it.

Then he felt the discreet appeal of a woman's fingers, the soft pressure that forgives and takes possession again.

And for his own part, he squeezed it, that little hand, as though to say:

"I still love you; I am yours."

Their eyes met, smiling, bright, full of love.

She murmured in her pleasant voice: "I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you again soon, sir."

He replied, gayly: "Soon, madame."

She passed on.

Other people were pushing forward.

The crowd flowed by like a stream.

At length it grew thinner.

The last guests took leave.

George took Susan's arm in his to pass through the church again.

It was full of people, for everyone had regained their seats in order to see them pass together.

They went by slowly, with calm steps and uplifted heads, their eyes fixed on the wide sunlit space of the open door.

He felt little quiverings run all over his skin those cold shivers caused by over-powering happiness.

He saw no one.

His thoughts were solely for himself.

When he gained the threshold he saw the crowd collected--a dense, agitated crowd, gathered there on his account--on account of George Du Roy.

The people of Paris were gazing at and envying him.

Then, raising his eyes, he could see afar off, beyond the Palace de la Concorde, the Chamber of Deputies, and it seemed to him that he was going to make but one jump from the portico of the Madeleine to that of the Palais Bourbon.

He slowly descended the long flight of steps between two ranks of spectators.

But he did not see them; his thoughts had now flown backwards, and before his eyes, dazzled by the brilliant sun, now floated the image of Madame de Marelle, re-adjusting before the glass the little curls on her temples, always disarranged when she rose.