Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


Just wait ten minutes.

I will just finish what I am about."

And he went on with a letter he was writing.

At the other end of the large table a fat, bald little man, with a very pale, puffy face, and a white and shining head, was writing, with his nose on the paper owing to extreme shortsightedness.

Forestier said to him: "I say, Saint-Potin, when are you going to interview those people?"

"At four o'clock."

"Will you take young Duroy here with you, and let him into the way of doing it?"

"All right."

Then turning to his friend, Forestier added: "Have you brought the continuation of the Algerian article?

The opening this morning was very successful."

Duroy, taken aback, stammered: "No. I thought I should have time this afternoon. I had heaps of things to do. I was not able."

The other shrugged his shoulders with a dissatisfied air.

"If you are not more exact than that you will spoil your future.

Daddy Walter was reckoning on your copy.

I will tell him it will be ready to-morrow.

If you think you are to be paid for doing nothing you are mistaken."

Then, after a short silence, he added:

"One must strike the iron while it is hot, or the deuce is in it."

Saint-Potin rose, saying:

"I am ready."

Then Forestier, leaning back in his chair, assumed a serious attitude in order to give his instructions, and turning to Duroy, said: "This is what it is.

Within the last two days the Chinese General, Li Theng Fao, has arrived at the Hotel Continental, and the Rajah Taposahib Ramaderao Pali at the Hotel Bristol.

You will go and interview them."

Turning to Saint-Potin, he continued:

"Don't forget the main points I told you of.

Ask the General and the Rajah their opinion upon the action of England in the East, their ideas upon her system of colonization and domination, and their hopes respecting the intervention of Europe, and especially of France."

He was silent for a moment, and then added in a theatrical aside: "It will be most interesting to our readers to learn at the same time what is thought in China and India upon these matters which so forcibly occupy public attention at this moment."

He continued, for the benefit of Duroy:

"Watch how Saint-Potin sets to work; he is a capital reporter; and try to learn the trick of pumping a man in five minutes."

Then he gravely resumed his writing, with the evident intention of defining their relative positions, and putting his old comrade and present colleague in his proper place.

As soon as they had crossed the threshold Saint-Potin began to laugh, and said to Duroy:

"There's a fluffer for you.

He tried to fluff even us.

One would really think he took us for his readers."

They reached the boulevard, and the reporter observed: "Will you have a drink?"


It is awfully hot."

They turned into a _cafe_ and ordered cooling drinks.

Saint-Potin began to talk.

He talked about the paper and everyone connected with it with an abundance of astonishing details.

"The governor?

A regular Jew?

And you know, nothing can alter a Jew.

What a breed!"

And he instanced some astounding traits of avariciousness peculiar to the children of Israel, economies of ten centimes, petty bargaining, shameful reductions asked for and obtained, all the ways of a usurer and pawnbroker.

"And yet with all this, a good fellow who believes in nothing and does everyone.

His paper, which is Governmental, Catholic, Liberal, Republican, Orleanist, pay your money and take your choice, was only started to help him in his speculations on the Bourse, and bolster up his other schemes.

At that game he is very clever, and nets millions through companies without four sous of genuine capital."

He went on, addressing Duroy as "My dear fellow."

"And he says things worthy of Balzac, the old shark.