Guy de Maupassant Fullscreen Dear friend (1885)


"Do leave off."

He had taken her head in his right hand, passed around her, and turned it towards him.

Then he darted on her mouth like a hawk on its prey.

She struggled, repulsed him, tried to free herself.

She succeeded at last, and repeated:

"Do leave off."

He remained seated, very red and chilled by this sensible remark; then, having recovered more self-possession, he said, with some liveliness:

"Very well, I will wait, but I shan't be able to say a dozen words till we get to Rouen.

And remember that we are only passing through Poissy."

"I will do the talking then," she said, and sat down quietly beside him.

She spoke with precision of what they would do on their return.

They must keep on the suite of apartments that she had resided in with her first husband, and Duroy would also inherit the duties and salary of Forestier at the _Vie Francaise_.

Before their union, besides, she had planned out, with the certainty of a man of business, all the financial details of their household.

They had married under a settlement preserving to each of them their respective estates, and every incident that might arise--death, divorce, the birth of one or more children--was duly provided for.

The young fellow contributed a capital of four thousand francs, he said, but of that sum he had borrowed fifteen hundred.

The rest was due to savings effected during the year in view of the event.

Her contribution was forty thousand francs, which she said had been left her by Forestier.

She returned to him as a subject of conversation.

"He was a very steady, economical, hard-working fellow.

He would have made a fortune in a very short time."

Duroy no longer listened, wholly absorbed by other thoughts.

She stopped from time to time to follow out some inward train of ideas, and then went on:

"In three or four years you can be easily earning thirty to forty thousand francs a year.

That is what Charles would have had if he had lived."

George, who began to find the lecture rather a long one, replied:

"I thought we were not going to Rouen to talk about him."

She gave him a slight tap on the cheek, saying, with a laugh: "That is so. I am in the wrong."

He made a show of sitting with his hands on his knees like a very good boy.

"You look very like a simpleton like that," said she.

He replied: "That is my part, of which, by the way, you reminded me just now, and I shall continue to play it."

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it is you who take management of the household, and even of me.

That, indeed, concerns you, as being a widow."

She was amazed, saying:

"What do you really mean?"

"That you have an experience that should enlighten my ignorance, and matrimonial practice that should polish up my bachelor innocence, that's all."

"That is too much," she exclaimed.

He replied: "That is so.

I don't know anything about ladies; no, and you know all about gentlemen, for you are a widow. You must undertake my education--this evening--and you can begin at once if you like."

She exclaimed, very much amused: "Oh, indeed, if you reckon on me for that!"

He repeated, in the tone of a school boy stumbling through his lesson: "Yes, I do.

I reckon that you will give me solid information--in twenty lessons. Ten for the elements, reading and grammar; ten for finishing accomplishments. I don't know anything myself."

She exclaimed, highly amused: "You goose."

He replied: "If that is the familiar tone you take, I will follow your example, and tell you, darling, that I adore you more and more every moment, and that I find Rouen a very long way off."

He spoke now with a theatrical intonation and with a series of changes of facial expression, which amused his companion, accustomed to the ways of literary Bohemia.

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye, finding him really charming, and experiencing the longing we have to pluck a fruit from the tree at once, and the check of reason which advises us to wait till dinner to eat it at the proper time.

Then she observed, blushing somewhat at the thoughts which assailed her:

"My dear little pupil, trust my experience, my great experience.

Kisses in a railway train are not worth anything.

They only upset one."