He did not indicate the article, but he noticed as he went away one of his neighbors take the _Vie Francaise_ up from the table on which he had left it.
He thought: "What shall I do now?" And he decided to go to his office, take his month's salary, and tender his resignation.
He felt a thrill of anticipatory pleasure at the thought of the faces that would be pulled up by the chief of his room and his colleagues.
The notion of the bewilderment of the chief above all charmed him.
He walked slowly, so as not to get there too early, the cashier's office not opening before ten o'clock.
His office was a large, gloomy room, in which gas had to be kept burning almost all day long in winter.
It looked into a narrow court-yard, with other offices on the further side of it.
There were eight clerks there, besides a sub-chief hidden behind a screen in one corner.
Duroy first went to get the hundred and eighteen francs twenty-five centimes enclosed in a yellow envelope, and placed in the drawer of the clerk entrusted with such payments, and then, with a conquering air, entered the large room in which he had already spent so many days.
As soon as he came in the sub-chief, Monsieur Potel, called out to him:
"Ah! it is you, Monsieur Duroy?
The chief has already asked for you several times.
You know that he will not allow anyone to plead illness two days running without a doctor's certificate."
Duroy, who was standing in the middle of the room preparing his sensational effect, replied in a loud voice:
"I don't care a damn whether he does or not."
There was a movement of stupefaction among the clerks, and Monsieur Potel's features showed affrightedly over the screen which shut him up as in a box.
He barricaded himself behind it for fear of draughts, for he was rheumatic, but had pierced a couple of holes through the paper to keep an eye on his staff.
A pin might have been heard to fall.
At length the sub-chief said, hesitatingly: "You said?"
"I said that I don't care a damn about it.
I have only called to-day to tender my resignation.
I am engaged on the staff of the _Vie Francaise_ at five hundred francs a month, and extra pay for all I write.
Indeed, I made my _debut_ this morning."
He had promised himself to spin out his enjoyment, but had not been able to resist the temptation of letting it all out at once.
The effect, too, was overwhelming.
No one stirred.
Duroy went on: "I will go and inform Monsieur Perthuis, and then come and wish you good-bye."
And he went out in search of the chief, who exclaimed, on seeing him:
"Ah, here you are.
You know that I won't have--"
His late subordinate cut him short with: "It's not worth while yelling like that."
Monsieur Perthuis, a stout man, as red as a turkey cock, was choked with bewilderment.
Duroy continued: "I have had enough of this crib.
I made my _debut_ this morning in journalism, where I am assured of a very good position.
I have the honor to bid you good-day."
And he went out.
He was avenged.
As he promised, he went and shook hands with his old colleagues, who scarcely dared to speak to him, for fear of compromising themselves, for they had overheard his conversation with the chief, the door having remained open.
He found himself in the street again, with his salary in his pocket.
He stood himself a substantial breakfast at a good but cheap restaurant he was acquainted with, and having again purchased the _Vie Francaise_, and left it on the table, went into several shops, where he bought some trifles, solely for the sake of ordering them to be sent home, and giving his name:
"George Duroy," with the addition,
"I am the editor of the _Vie Francaise_."
Then he gave the name of the street and the number, taking care to add:
"Leave it with the doorkeeper."
As he had still some time to spare he went into the shop of a lithographer, who executed visiting cards at a moment's notice before the eyes of passers-by, and had a hundred, bearing his new occupation under his name, printed off while he waited.
Then he went to the office of the paper.
Forestier received him loftily, as one receives a subordinate.
"Ah! here you are.
I have several things for you to attend to.