Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


Others, too, arrived, serious, important-looking men, wearing tall hats with flat brims, as if this shape distinguished them from the rest of mankind.

Forestier reappeared holding the arm of a tall, thin fellow, between thirty and forty years of age, in evening dress, very dark, with his moustache ends stiffened in sharp points, and an insolent and self-satisfied bearing.

Forestier said to him: "Good night, dear master."

The other shook hands with him, saying:

"Good night, my dear fellow," and went downstairs whistling, with his cane under his arm.

Duroy asked: "Who is that?"

"Jacques Rival, you know, the celebrated descriptive writer, the duellist.

He has just been correcting his proofs.

Garin, Montel, and he are the three best descriptive writers, for facts and points, we have in Paris.

He gets thirty thousand francs a year here for two articles a week."

As they were leaving they met a short, stout man, with long hair and untidy appearance, who was puffing as he came up the stairs.

Forestier bowed low to him.

"Norbert de Varenne," said he, "the poet; the author of '_Les Soleils Morts_'; another who gets long prices.

Every tale he writes for us costs three hundred francs, and the longest do not run to two hundred lines.

But let us turn into the Neapolitan _cafe_, I am beginning to choke with thirst."

As soon as they were seated at a table in the _cafe_, Forestier called for two bocks, and drank off his own at a single draught, while Duroy sipped his beer in slow mouthfuls, tasting it and relishing it like something rare and precious.

His companion was silent, and seemed to be reflecting. Suddenly he exclaimed:

"Why don't you try journalism?"

The other looked at him in surprise, and then said:

"But, you know, I have never written anything."

"Bah! everyone must begin.

I could give you a job to hunt up information for me--to make calls and inquiries.

You would have to start with two hundred and fifty francs a month and your cab hire.

Shall I speak to the manager about it?"


"Very well, then, come and dine with me to-morrow.

I shall only have five or six people--the governor, Monsieur Walter and his wife, Jacques Rival, and Norbert de Varenne, whom you have just seen, and a lady, a friend of my wife.

Is it settled?"

Duroy hesitated, blushing and perplexed.

At length he murmured: "You see, I have no clothes."

Forestier was astounded.

"You have no dress clothes?

Hang it all, they are indispensable, though.

In Paris one would be better off without a bed than without a dress suit."

Then, suddenly feeling in his waistcoat pocket, he drew out some gold, took two louis, placed them in front of his old comrade, and said in a cordial and familiar tone:

"You will pay me back when you can.

Hire or arrange to pay by installments for the clothes you want, whichever you like, but come and dine with me to-morrow, half-past seven, number seventeen Rue Fontaine."

Duroy, confused, picked up the money, stammering: "You are too good; I am very much obliged to you; you may be sure I shall not forget."

The other interrupted him. "All right.

Another bock, eh?

Waiter, two bocks."

Then, when they had drunk them, the journalist said:

"Will you stroll about a bit for an hour?"


And they set out again in the direction of the Madeleine.

"What shall we, do?" said Forestier.

"They say that in Paris a lounger can always find something to amuse him, but it is not true.

I, when I want to lounge about of an evening, never know where to go.

A drive round the Bois de Boulogne is only amusing with a woman, and one has not always one to hand; the _cafe_ concerts may please my chemist and his wife, but not me.

Then what is there to do?