One of these women was leaning against their box and looking at him.
She was a stout brunette, her skin whitened with paint, her black eyes lengthened at the corners with pencil and shaded by enormous and artificial eyebrows.
Her too exuberant bosom stretched the dark silk of her dress almost to bursting; and her painted lips, red as a fresh wound, gave her an aspect bestial, ardent, unnatural, but which, nevertheless, aroused desire.
She beckoned with her head one of the friends who was passing, a blonde with red hair, and stout, like herself, and said to her, in a voice loud enough to be heard:
"There is a pretty fellow; if he would like to have me for ten louis I should not say no."
Forestier turned and tapped Duroy on the knee, with a smile.
"That is meant for you; you are a success, my dear fellow.
I congratulate you."
The ex-sub-officer blushed, and mechanically fingered the two pieces of gold in his waistcoat pocket.
The curtain had dropped, and the orchestra was now playing a waltz.
Duroy said: "Suppose we take a turn round the promenade."
"Just as you like."
They left their box, and were at once swept away by the throng of promenaders.
Pushed, pressed, squeezed, shaken, they went on, having before their eyes a crowd of hats.
The girls, in pairs, passed amidst this crowd of men, traversing it with facility, gliding between elbows, chests, and backs as if quite at home, perfectly at their ease, like fish in water, amidst this masculine flood.
Duroy, charmed, let himself be swept along, drinking in with intoxication the air vitiated by tobacco, the odor of humanity, and the perfumes of the hussies.
But Forestier sweated, puffed, and coughed.
"Let us go into the garden," said he.
And turning to the left, they entered a kind of covered garden, cooled by two large and ugly fountains.
Men and women were drinking at zinc tables placed beneath evergreen trees growing in boxes.
"Another bock, eh?" said Forestier.
They sat down and watched the passing throng.
From time to time a woman would stop and ask, with stereotyped smile:
"Are you going to stand me anything?"
And as Forestier answered:
"A glass of water from the fountain," she would turn away, muttering: "Go on, you duffer."
But the stout brunette, who had been leaning, just before, against the box occupied by the two comrades, reappeared, walking proudly arm-in-arm with the stout blonde.
They were really a fine pair of women, well matched.
She smiled on perceiving Duroy, as though their eyes had already told secrets, and, taking a chair, sat down quietly in face of him, and making her friend sit down, too, gave the order in a clear voice:
"Waiter, two grenadines!"
Forestier, rather surprised, said: "You make yourself at home."
She replied: "It is your friend that captivates me.
He is really a pretty fellow.
I believe that I could make a fool of myself for his sake."
Duroy, intimidated, could find nothing to say.
He twisted his curly moustache, smiling in a silly fashion.
The waiter brought the drinks, which the women drank off at a draught; then they rose, and the brunette, with a friendly nod of the head, and a tap on the arm with her fan, said to Duroy:
"Thanks, dear, you are not very talkative."
And they went off swaying their trains.
"I say, old fellow, you are very successful with the women.
You must look after it.
It may lead to something."
He was silent for a moment, and then continued in the dreamy tone of men who think aloud:
"It is through them, too, that one gets on quickest."
And as Duroy still smiled without replying, he asked:
"Are you going to stop any longer? I have had enough of it.
I am going home."
The other murmured: "Yes, I shall stay a little longer. It is not late."