Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


He turned it over and over, seeking by what miracle it could have found its way there.

It could not, however, have fallen from heaven into his pocket.

Then all at once he guessed, and an angry indignation awoke within him.

His mistress had spoken of money slipping into the lining, and being found in times of poverty.

It was she who had tendered him this alms.

How shameful!

He swore:


I'll talk to her the day after to-morrow.

She shall have a nice time over it."

And he went to bed, his heart filled with anger and humiliation.

He woke late.

He was hungry.

He tried to go to sleep again, in order not to get up till two o'clock, and then said to himself:

"That will not forward matters. I must end by finding some money."

Then he went out, hoping that an idea might occur to him in the street.

It did not; but at every restaurant he passed a longing to eat made his mouth water.

As by noon he had failed to hit on any plan, he suddenly made up his mind:

"I will lunch out of Clotilde's twenty francs.

That won't hinder me from paying them back to-morrow."

He, therefore, lunched for two francs fifty centimes.

On reaching the office he also gave three francs to the messenger, saying:

"Here, Foucart, here is the money you lent me last night for my cab."

He worked till seven o'clock.

Then he went and dined taking another three francs.

The two evening bocks brought the expenditure of the day up to nine francs thirty centimes.

But as he could not re-establish a credit or create fresh resources in twenty-four hours, he borrowed another six francs fifty centimes the next day from the twenty he was going to return that very evening, so that he came to keep his appointment with just four francs twenty centimes in his pocket.

He was in a deuce of a temper, and promised himself that he would pretty soon explain things.

He would say to his mistress:

"You know, I found the twenty francs you slipped into my pocket the other day.

I cannot give them back to you now, because my situation is unaltered, and I have not had time to occupy myself with money matters.

But I will give them to you the next time we meet."

She arrived, loving, eager, full of alarm.

How would he receive her?

She kissed him persistently to avoid an explanation at the outset.

He said to himself:

"It will be time enough to enter on the matter by-and-by.

I will find an opportunity of doing so."

He did not find the opportunity, and said nothing, shirking before the difficulty of opening this delicate subject.

She did not speak of going out, and was in every way charming.

They separated about midnight, after making an appointment for the Wednesday of the following week, for Madame de Marelle was engaged to dine out several days in succession.

The next day, as Duroy, on paying for his breakfast, felt for the four coins that ought to be remaining to him, he perceived that they were five, and one of them a gold one.

At the outset he thought that he had received it by mistake in his change the day before, then he understood it, and his heart throbbed with humiliation at this persistent charity.

How he now regretted not having said anything!

If he had spoken energetically this would not have happened.

For four days he made efforts, as numerous as they were fruitless, to raise five louis, and spent Clotilde's second one.

She managed, although he had said to her savagely,

"Don't play that joke of the other evening's again, or I shall get angry," to slip another twenty francs into his trouser pockets the first time they met.

When he found them he swore bitterly, and transferred them to his waistcoat to have them under his hand, for he had not a rap.

He appeased his conscience by this argument: "I will give it all back to her in a lump.