He, however, awaited her appearance with some slight uneasiness.
She came, very calm, rather cool, and slightly haughty.
He became humble, discreet, and submissive.
Madame Laroche-Mathieu and Madame Rissolin accompanied their husbands.
The Viscountess de Percemur talked society.
Madame de Marelle looked charming in a strangely fanciful toilet, a species of Spanish costume in black and yellow, which set off her neat figure, her bosom, her rounded arms, and her bird-like head.
Du Roy had Madame Walter on his right hand, and during dinner only spoke to her on serious topics, and with an exaggerated respect.
From time to time he glanced at Clotilde.
"She is really prettier and fresher looking than ever," he thought.
Then his eyes returned to his wife, whom he found not bad-looking either, although he retained towards her a hidden, tenacious, and evil anger.
But Madame Walter excited him by the difficulty of victory and by that novelty always desired by man.
She wanted to return home early.
"I will escort you," said he.
She refused, but he persisted, saying: "Why will not you permit me?
You will wound me keenly.
Do not let me think that you have not forgiven me.
You see how quiet I am."
She answered: "But you cannot abandon your guests like that."
"But I shall only be away twenty minutes.
They will not even notice it.
If you refuse you will cut me to the heart."
She murmured: "Well, then I agree."
But as soon as they were in the carriage he seized her hand, and, kissing it passionately, exclaimed:
"I love you, I love you.
Let me tell you that much.
I will not touch you.
I only want to repeat to you that I love you."
She stammered: "Oh! after what you promised me! This is wrong, very wrong."
He appeared to make a great effort, and then resumed in a restrained tone:
"There, you see how I master myself.
And yet--But let me only tell you that I love you, and repeat it to you every day; yes, let me come to your house and kneel down for five minutes at your feet to utter those three words while gazing on your beloved face."
She had yielded her hand to him, and replied pantingly:
"No, I cannot, I will not.
Think of what would be said, of the servants, of my daughters. No, no, it is impossible."
He went on: "I can no longer live without seeing you.
Whether at your house or elsewhere, I must see you, if only for a moment, every day, to touch your hand, to breathe the air stirred by your dress, to gaze on the outline of your form, and on your great calm eyes that madden me."
She listened, quivering, to this commonplace love-song, and stammered:
"No, it is out of the question."
He whispered in her ear, understanding that he must capture her by degrees, this simple woman, that he must get her to make appointments with him, where she would at first, where he wished afterwards.
"Listen, I must see you; I shall wait for you at your door like a beggar; but I will see you, I will see you to-morrow."
She repeated: "No, do not come.
I shall not receive you.
Think of my daughters."
"Then tell me where I shall meet you--in the street, no matter where, at whatever hour you like, provided I see you. I will bow to you; I will say 'I love you,' and I will go away."
She hesitated, bewildered.
And as the brougham entered the gateway of her residence she murmured hurriedly:
"Well, then, I shall be at the Church of the Trinity to-morrow at half-past three."
Then, having alighted, she said to her coachman:
"Drive Monsieur Du Roy back to his house."