I needed beside me someone who above all would be an adviser, a consoler, and a stay.
It is a partner, an ally, that I have sought, and that I have found."
He was silent, hoping that she would reply, expecting furious rage, violence, and insults.
She had placed one hand on her heart as though to restrain its throbbings, and continued to draw her breath by painful efforts, which made her bosom heave spasmodically and her head nod to and fro.
He took her other hand, which was resting on the arm of the chair, but she snatched it away abruptly.
Then she murmured, as though in a state of stupefaction: "Oh, my God!"
He knelt down before her, without daring to touch her, however, and more deeply moved by this silence than he would have been by a fit of anger, stammered out:
"Clo! my darling Clo! just consider my situation, consider what I am.
Oh! if I had been able to marry you, what happiness it would have been.
But you are married.
What could I do?
Come, think of it, now.
I must take a place in society, and I cannot do it so long as I have not a home.
If you only knew.
There are days when I have felt a longing to kill your husband."
He spoke in his soft, subdued, seductive voice, a voice which entered the ear like music.
He saw two tears slowly gather in the fixed and staring eyes of his mistress and then roll down her cheeks, while two more were already formed on the eyelids.
He murmured: "Do not cry, Clo; do not cry, I beg of you.
You rend my very heart."
Then she made an effort, a strong effort, to be proud and dignified, and asked, in the quivering tone of a woman about to burst into sobs: "Who is it?"
He hesitated a moment, and then understanding that he must, said:
Madame de Marelle shuddered all over, and remained silent, so deep in thought that she seemed to have forgotten that he was at her feet.
And two transparent drops kept continually forming in her eyes, falling and forming again.
Duroy guessed that she was going away without saying a word, without reproach or forgiveness, and he felt hurt and humiliated to the bottom of his soul.
Wishing to stay her, he threw his arms about the skirt of her dress, clasping through the stuff her rounded legs, which he felt stiffen in resistance.
He implored her, saying: "I beg of you, do not go away like that."
Then she looked down on him from above with that moistened and despairing eye, at once so charming and so sad, which shows all the grief of a woman's heart, and gasped out:
"I--I have nothing to say. I have nothing to do with it. You--you are right. You--you have chosen well."
And, freeing herself by a backward movement, she left the room without his trying to detain her further.
Left to himself, he rose as bewildered as if he had received a blow on the head.
Then, making up his mind, he muttered:
"Well, so much the worse or the better.
It is over, and without a scene; I prefer that," and relieved from an immense weight, suddenly feeling himself free, delivered, at ease as to his future life, he began to spar at the wall, hitting out with his fists in a kind of intoxication of strength and triumph, as if he had been fighting Fate.
When Madame Forestier asked:
"Have you told Madame de Marelle?" he quietly answered,
She scanned him closely with her bright eyes, saying:
"And did it not cause her any emotion?"
"No, not at all.
She thought it, on the contrary, a very good idea."
The news was soon known.
Some were astonished, others asserted that they had foreseen it; others, again, smiled, and let it be understood that they were not surprised.
The young man who now signed his descriptive articles D. de Cantel, his
"Echoes" Duroy, and the political articles which he was beginning to write from time to time Du Roy, passed half his time with his betrothed, who treated him with a fraternal familiarity into which, however, entered a real but hidden love, a species of desire concealed as a weakness.
She had decided that the marriage should be quite private, only the witnesses being present, and that they should leave the same evening for Rouen.
They would go the next day to see the journalist's parents, and remain with them some days.
Duroy had striven to get her to renounce this project, but not having been able to do so, had ended by giving in to it.
So the tenth of May having come, the newly-married couple, having considered the religious ceremony useless since they had not invited anyone, returned to finish packing their boxes after a brief visit to the Town Hall. They took, at the Saint Lazare terminus, the six o'clock train, which bore them away towards Normandy.