Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


He patiently awaited the husband's departure, but he passed two evenings at the Folies Bergere, which wound up with Rachel.

Then one morning came a fresh telegram:

"To-day at five.--Clo."

They both arrived at the meeting-place before the time.

She threw herself into his arms with an outburst of passion, and kissed him all over the face, and then said:

"If you like, when we have loved one another a great deal, you shall take me to dinner somewhere.

I have kept myself disengaged."

It was at the beginning of the month, and although his salary was long since drawn in advance, and he lived from day to day upon money gleaned on every side, Duroy happened to be in funds, and was pleased at the opportunity of spending something upon her, so he replied:

"Yes, darling, wherever you like."

They started off, therefore, at about seven, and gained the outer boulevards.

She leaned closely against him, and whispered in his ear:

"If you only knew how pleased I am to walk out on your arm; how I love to feel you beside me."

He said: "Would you like to go to Pere Lathuile's?"

"Oh, no, it is too swell.

I should like something funny, out of the way! a restaurant that shopmen and work-girls go to.

I adore dining at a country inn.

Oh! if we only had been able to go into the country."

As he knew nothing of the kind in the neighborhood, they wandered along the boulevard, and ended by going into a wine-shop where there was a dining-room.

She had seen through the window two bareheaded girls seated at tables with two soldiers.

Three cab-drivers were dining at the further end of the long and narrow room, and an individual impossible to classify under any calling was smoking, stretched on a chair, with his legs stuck out in front of him, his hands in the waist-band of his trousers, and his head thrown back over the top bar.

His jacket was a museum of stains, and in his swollen pockets could be noted the neck of a bottle, a piece of bread, a parcel wrapped up in a newspaper, and a dangling piece of string.

He had thick, tangled, curly hair, gray with scurf, and his cap was on the floor under his chair.

The entrance of Clotilde created a sensation, due to the elegance of her toilet.

The couples ceased whispering together, the three cab-drivers left off arguing, and the man who was smoking, having taken his pipe from his mouth and spat in front of him, turned his head slightly to look.

Madame de Marelle murmured: "It is very nice; we shall be very comfortable here.

Another time I will dress like a work-girl."

And she sat down, without embarrassment or disgust, before the wooden table, polished by the fat of dishes, washed by spilt liquors, and cleaned by a wisp of the waiter's napkin.

Duroy, somewhat ill at ease, and slightly ashamed, sought a peg to hang his tall hat on.

Not finding one, he put it on a chair.

They had a ragout, a slice of melon, and a salad.

Clotilde repeated: "I delight in this.

I have low tastes.

I like this better than the Cafe Anglais."

Then she added:

"If you want to give me complete enjoyment, you will take me to a dancing place.

I know a very funny one close by called the Reine Blanche."

Duroy, surprised at this, asked: "Whoever took you there?"

He looked at her and saw her blush, somewhat disturbed, as though this sudden question had aroused within her some delicate recollections.

After one of these feminine hesitations, so short that they can scarcely be guessed, she replied:

"A friend of mine," and then, after a brief silence, added, "who is dead."

And she cast down her eyes with a very natural sadness.

Duroy, for the first time, thought of all that he did not know as regarded the past life of this woman.

Certainly she already had lovers, but of what kind, in what class of society?

A vague jealousy, a species of enmity awoke within him; an enmity against all that he did not know, all that had not belonged to him.

He looked at her, irritated at the mystery wrapped up within that pretty, silent head, which was thinking, perhaps, at that very moment, of the other, the others, regretfully.

How he would have liked to have looked into her recollections--to have known all.

She repeated: "Will you take me to the Reine Blanche?

That will be a perfect treat."

He thought: "What matters the past?

I am very foolish to bother about it," and smilingly replied: