Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


But there are a lot of people about on the staircase."

He had clasped her in his arms, and was eagerly kissing the hair between her forehead and her bonnet through her veil.

An hour and a half later he escorted her back to the cab-stand in the Rue de Rome.

When she was in the carriage he murmured:

"Tuesday at the same time?"

She replied: "Tuesday at the same time."

And as it had grown dark, she drew his head into the carriage and kissed him on the lips.

Then the driver, having whipped up his beast, she exclaimed:

"Good-bye, Pretty-boy," and the old vehicle started at the weary trot of its old white horse.

For three weeks Duroy received Madame de Marelle in this way every two or three days, now in the evening and now in the morning.

While he was expecting her one afternoon, a loud uproar on the stairs drew him to the door.

A child was crying.

A man's angry voice shouted:

"What is that little devil howling about now?"

The yelling and exasperated voice of a woman replied: "It is that dirty hussy who comes to see the penny-a-liner upstairs; she has upset Nicholas on the landing.

As if dabs like that, who pay no attention to children on the staircase, should be allowed here."

Duroy drew back, distracted, for he could hear the rapid rustling of skirts and a hurried step ascending from the story just beneath him.

There was soon a knock at the door, which he had reclosed.

He opened it, and Madame de Marelle rushed into the room, terrified and breathless, stammering:

"Did you hear?"

He pretended to know nothing.

"No; what?"

"How they have insulted me."


Who?" "The blackguards who live down below."

"But, surely not; what does it all mean, tell me?"

She began to sob, without being able to utter a word.

He had to take off her bonnet, undo her dress, lay her on the bed, moisten her forehead with a wet towel.

She was choking, and then when her emotion was somewhat abated, all her wrathful indignation broke out.

She wanted him to go down at once, to thrash them, to kill them.

He repeated: "But they are only work-people, low creatures.

Just remember that it would lead to a police court, that you might be recognized, arrested, ruined.

One cannot lower one's self to have anything to do with such people."

She passed on to another idea.

"What shall we do now?

For my part, I cannot come here again."

He replied: "It is very simple; I will move."

She murmured: "Yes, but that will take some time."

Then all at once she framed a plan, and reassured, added softly:

"No, listen, I know what to do; let me act, do not trouble yourself about anything.

I will send you a telegram to-morrow morning."

She smiled now, delighted with her plan, which she would not reveal, and indulged in a thousand follies.

She was very agitated, however, as she went downstairs, leaning with all her weight on her lover's arm, her legs trembled so beneath her.

They did not meet anyone, though.

As he usually got up late, he was still in bed the next day, when, about eleven o'clock, the telegraph messenger brought him the promised telegram.

He opened it and read:

"Meet me at five; 127, Rue de Constantinople.

Rooms hired by Madame Duroy.--Clo."

At five o'clock to the minute he entered the doorkeeper's lodge of a large furnished house, and asked:

"It is here that Madame Duroy has taken rooms, is it not?"