Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)

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After all, it is only borrowed money."

At length the cashier of the paper agreed, on his desperate appeals, to let him have five francs daily.

It was just enough to live upon, but not enough to repay sixty francs with.

But as Clotilde was again seized by her passion for nocturnal excursions in all the suspicious localities in Paris, he ended by not being unbearably annoyed to find a yellow boy in one of his pockets, once even in his boot, and another time in his watch-case, after their adventurous excursions.

Since she had wishes which he could not for the moment gratify himself, was it not natural that she should pay for them rather than go without them?

He kept an account, too, of all he received in this way, in order to return it to her some day.

One evening she said to him:

"Would you believe that I have never been to the Folies-Bergere?

Will you take me there?"

He hesitated a moment, afraid of meeting Rachel.

Then he thought:

"Bah!

I am not married, after all.

If that girl sees me she will understand the state of things, and will not speak to me.

Besides, we will have a box."

Another reason helped his decision. He was well pleased of this opportunity of offering Madame de Marelle a box at the theater without its costing anything.

It was a kind of compensation.

He left her in the cab while he got the order for the box, in order that she might not see it offered him, and then came to fetch her. They went in, and were received with bows by the acting manager.

An immense crowd filled the lounge, and they had great difficulty in making their way through the swarm of men and women.

At length they reached the box and settled themselves in it, shut in between the motionless orchestra and the eddy of the gallery.

But Madame de Marelle rarely glanced at the stage. Wholly taken up with the women promenading behind her back, she constantly turned round to look at them, with a longing to touch them, to feel their bodices, their skirts, their hair, to know what these creatures were made of.

Suddenly she said:

"There is a stout, dark girl who keeps watching us all the time.

I thought just now that she was going to speak to us.

Did you notice her?"

He answered: "No, you must be mistaken."

But he had already noticed her for some time back.

It was Rachel who was prowling about in their neighborhood, with anger in her eyes and hard words upon her lips.

Duroy had brushed against her in making his way through the crowd, and she had whispered,

"Good evening," with a wink which signified,

"I understand."

But he had not replied to this mark of attention for fear of being seen by his mistress, and he had passed on coldly, with haughty look and disdainful lip.

The woman, whom unconscious jealousy already assailed, turned back, brushed against him again, and said in louder tones:

"Good evening, George."

He had not answered even then.

Then she made up her mind to be recognized and bowed to, and she kept continually passing in the rear of the box, awaiting a favorable moment.

As soon as she saw that Madame de Marelle was looking at her she touched Duroy's shoulder, saying:

"Good evening, are you quite well?"

He did not turn round, and she went on:

"What, have you grown deaf since Thursday?"

He did not reply, affecting a contempt which would not allow him to compromise himself even by a word with this slut.

She began to laugh an angry laugh, and said:

"So you are dumb, then?

Perhaps the lady has bitten your tongue off?"

He made an angry movement, and exclaimed, in an exasperated tone: "What do you mean by speaking to me?

Be off, or I will have you locked up."

Then, with fiery eye and swelling bosom, she screeched out: "So that's it, is it?

Ah! you lout.

When a man sleeps with a woman the least he can do is to nod to her.

It is no reason because you are with someone else that you should cut me to-day.