"Yes, in the course of the summer."
"So much the better."
The old woman growled: "I hope you won't regret what you have done."
He left them two hundred francs as a present to assuage their discontent, and the carriage, which a boy had been sent in quest of, having made its appearance at about ten o'clock, the newly-married couple embraced the old country folk and started off once more.
As they were descending the hill Duroy began to laugh.
"There," he said, "I had warned you.
I ought not to have introduced you to Monsieur and Madame du Roy de Cantel, Senior."
She began to laugh, too, and replied: "I am delighted now.
They are good folk, whom I am beginning to like very well.
I will send them some presents from Paris."
Then she murmured:
"Du Roy de Cantel, you will see that no one will be astonished at the terms of the notification of our marriage.
We will say that we have been staying for a week with your parents on their estate."
And bending towards him she kissed the tip of his moustache, saying:
"Good morning, George."
He replied: "Good morning, Made," as he passed an arm around her waist.
In the valley below they could see the broad river like a ribbon of silver unrolled beneath the morning sun, the factory chimneys belching forth their clouds of smoke into the sky, and the pointed spires rising above the old town.
The Du Roys had been back in Paris a couple of days, and the journalist had taken up his old work pending the moment when he should definitely assume Forestier's duties, and give himself wholly up to politics.
He was going home that evening to his predecessor's abode to dinner, with a light heart and a keen desire to embrace his wife, whose physical attractions and imperceptible domination exercised a powerful impulse over him.
Passing by a florist's at the bottom of the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, he was struck by the notion of buying a bouquet for Madeleine, and chose a large bunch of half-open roses, a very bundle of perfumed buds.
At each story of his new staircase he eyed himself complacently in the mirrors, the sight of which continually recalled to him his first visit to the house.
He rang the bell, having forgotten his key, and the same man-servant, whom he had also kept on by his wife's advice, opened the door.
"Has your mistress come home?" asked George.
But on passing through the dining-room he was greatly surprised to find the table laid for three, and the hangings of the drawing-room door being looped up, saw Madeleine arranging in a vase on the mantelpiece a bunch of roses exactly similar to his own.
He was vexed and displeased; it was as though he had been robbed of his idea, his mark of attention, and all the pleasure he anticipated from it.
"You have invited some one to dinner, then?" he inquired, as he entered the room.
She answered without turning round, and while continuing to arrange the flowers: "Yes, and no.
It is my old friend, the Count de Vaudrec, who has been accustomed to dine here every Monday, and who has come as usual."
George murmured: "Ah! very good."
He remained standing behind her, bouquet in hand, with a longing to hide it or throw it away.
He said, however: "I have brought you some roses."
She turned round suddenly, smiling, and exclaimed:
"Ah! how nice of you to have thought of that." And she held out her arms and lips to him with an outburst of joy so real that he felt consoled.
She took the flowers, smelt them, and with the liveliness of a delighted child, placed them in the vase that remained empty opposite the other.
Then she murmured, as she viewed the result: "How glad I am.
My mantelpiece is furnished now."
She added almost immediately, in a tone of conviction:
"You know Vaudrec is awfully nice; you will be friends with him at once."
A ring announced the Count.
He entered quietly, and quite at his ease, as though at home.
After having gallantly kissed the young wife's fingers, he turned to the husband and cordially held out his hand, saying:
"How goes it, my dear Du Roy?"
It was no longer his former stiff and starched bearing, but an affable one, showing that the situation was no longer the same.
The journalist, surprised, strove to make himself agreeable in response to these advances.
It might have been believed within five minutes that they had known and loved one another for ten years past.
Then Madeleine, whose face was radiant, said: "I will leave you together, I must give a look to my dinner."
And she went out, followed by a glance from both men.
When she returned she found them talking theatricals apropos of a new piece, and so thoroughly of the same opinion that a species of rapid friendship awoke in their eyes at the discovery of this absolute identity of ideas.