As he re-entered his home, his wife said:
"Where did you get to?"
He replied, in a low tone: "I went to the telegraph office to send off a message."
Madame de Marelle approached them.
"You will see me home, Pretty-boy?" said she.
"You know I only came such a distance to dinner on that condition." And turning to Madeleine, she added: "You are not jealous?"
Madame Du Roy answered slowly: "Not over much."
The guests were taking their leave.
Madame Laroche-Mathieu looked like a housemaid from the country.
She was the daughter of a notary, and had been married to the deputy when he was only a barrister of small standing.
Madame Rissolin, old and stuck-up, gave one the idea of a midwife whose fashionable education had been acquired through a circulating library.
The Viscountess de Percemur looked down upon them.
Her "Lily Fingers" touched these vulgar hands with repugnance.
Clotilde, wrapped in lace, said to Madeleine as she went out:
"Your dinner was perfection.
In a little while you will have the leading political drawing-room in Paris."
As soon as she was alone with George she clasped him in her arms, exclaiming:
"Oh, my darling Pretty-boy, I love you more and more every day!"
The Place de la Trinite lay, almost deserted, under a dazzling July sun.
An oppressive heat was crushing Paris. It was as though the upper air, scorched and deadened, had fallen upon the city--a thick, burning air that pained the chests inhaling it.
The fountains in front of the church fell lazily. They seemed weary of flowing, tired out, limp, too; and the water of the basins, in which leaves and bits of paper were floating, looked greenish, thick and glaucous.
A dog having jumped over the stone rim, was bathing in the dubious fluid.
A few people, seated on the benches of the little circular garden skirting the front of the church, watched the animal curiously.
Du Roy pulled out his watch.
It was only three o'clock.
He was half an hour too soon.
He laughed as he thought of this appointment.
"Churches serve for anything as far as she is concerned," said he to himself.
"They console her for having married a Jew, enable her to assume an attitude of protestation in the world of politics and a respectable one in that of fashion, and serve as a shelter to her gallant rendezvous.
So much for the habit of making use of religion as an umbrella.
If it is fine it is a walking stick; if sunshiny, a parasol; if it rains, a shelter; and if one does not go out, why, one leaves it in the hall.
And there are hundreds like that who care for God about as much as a cherry stone, but who will not hear him spoken against.
If it were suggested to them to go to a hotel, they would think it infamous, but it seems to them quite simple to make love at the foot of the altar."
He walked slowly along the edge of the fountain, and then again looked at the church clock, which was two minutes faster than his watch. It was five minutes past three.
He thought that he would be more comfortable inside, and entered the church.
The coolness of a cellar assailed him, he breathed it with pleasure, and then took a turn round the nave to reconnoiter the place.
Other regular footsteps, sometimes halting and then beginning anew, replied from the further end of the vast pile to the sound of his own, which rang sonorously beneath the vaulted roof.
A curiosity to know who this other promenader was seized him.
It was a stout, bald-headed gentleman who was strolling about with his nose in the air, and his hat behind his back.
Here and there an old woman was praying, her face hidden in her hands.
A sensation of solitude and rest stole over the mind.
The light, softened by the stained-glass windows, was refreshing to the eyes.
Du Roy thought that it was "deucedly comfortable" inside there.
He returned towards the door and again looked at his watch.
It was still only a quarter-past three.
He sat down at the entrance to the main aisle, regretting that one could not smoke a cigarette.
The slow footsteps of the stout gentleman could still be heard at the further end of the church, near the choir.
Someone came in, and George turned sharply round.
It was a poor woman in a woolen skirt, who fell on her knees close to the first chair, and remained motionless, with clasped hands, her eyes turned to heaven, her soul absorbed in prayer.