Each of them, moreover, swore with conviction that he had heard the whistling of the other's bullet.
The next day, at about eleven, Duroy received a telegram.
"Awfully alarmed. Come at once. Rue de Constantinople.--Clo."
He hastened to their meeting-place, and she threw herself into his arms, smothering him with kisses.
"Oh, my darling! if you only knew what I felt when I saw the papers this morning.
Oh, tell me all about it!
I want to know everything."
He had to give minute details.
"What a dreadful night you must have passed before the duel."
"No, I slept very well."
"I should not have closed an eye.
And on the ground--tell me all that happened."
He gave a dramatic account.
"When we were face to face with one another at twenty paces, only four times the length of this room, Jacques, after asking if we were ready, gave the word
I raised my arm at once, keeping a good line, but I made the mistake of trying to aim at the head.
I had a pistol with an unusually stiff pull, and I am accustomed to very easy ones, so that the resistance of the trigger caused me to fire too high.
No matter, it could not have gone very far off him.
He shoots well, too, the rascal.
His bullet skimmed by my temple.
I felt the wind of it."
She was sitting on his knees, and holding him in her arms as though to share his dangers.
She murmured: "Oh, my poor darling! my poor darling!"
When he had finished his narration, she said:
"Do you know, I cannot live without you.
I must see you, and with my husband in Paris it is not easy.
Often I could find an hour in the morning before you were up to run in and kiss you, but I won't enter that awful house of yours.
What is to be done?"
He suddenly had an inspiration, and asked:
"What is the rent here?"
"A hundred francs a month."
"Well, I will take the rooms over on my own account, and live here altogether.
Mine are no longer good enough for my new position."
She reflected a few moments, and then said: "No, I won't have that."
He was astonished, and asked:
"Because I won't."
"That is not a reason.
These rooms suit me very well.
I am here, and shall remain here.
Besides," he added, with a laugh, "they are taken in my name."
But she kept on refusing,
"No, no, I won't have it."
"Why not, then?"
Then she whispered tenderly:
"Because you would bring women here, and I won't have it."
He grew indignant.
I can promise you that."