Part 4 out of 4
"I have none."
"Indeed! Why do you never come to see me? Why do you refuse to dine
with me even once a week? I have no other thoughts than of you. I
suffer terribly. You cannot understand that your image, always
present, closes my throat, stifles me, and leaves me scarcely
strength enough to move my limbs in order to walk. So I remain all
day in my chair thinking of you."
He looked at her in astonishment. These were the words of a
desperate woman, capable of anything. He, however, cherished a vague
project and replied: "My dear, love is not eternal. One loves and
one ceases to love. When it lasts it becomes a drawback. I want none
of it! However, if you will be reasonable, and will receive and
treat me as a friend, I will come to see you as formerly. Can you do
She murmured: "I can do anything in order to see you."
"Then it is agreed that we are to be friends, nothing more."
She gasped: "It is agreed"; offering him her lips she cried in her
despair: "One more kiss--one last kiss!"
He gently drew back. "No, we must adhere to our rules."
She turned her head and wiped away two tears, then drawing from her
bosom a package of notes tied with pink ribbon, she held it toward
Du Roy: "Here is your share of the profits in that Moroccan affair.
I was so glad to make it for you. Here, take it."
He refused: "No, I cannot accept that money."
She became excited: "Oh, you will not refuse it now! It is yours,
yours alone. If you do not take it, I will throw it in the sewer.
You will not refuse it, Georges!"
He took the package and slipped it into his pocket "We must return
to the house; you will take cold."
"So much the better; if I could but die!"
She seized his hand, kissed it passionately, and fled toward the
house. He returned more leisurely, and entered the conservatory with
head erect and smiling lips. His wife and Laroche were no longer
there. The crowd had grown thinner. Suzanne, leaning on her sister's
arm, advanced toward him. In a few moments, Rose, whom they teased
about a certain Count, turned upon her heel and left them.
Du Roy, finding himself alone with Suzanne, said in a caressing
voice: "Listen, my dear little one; do you really consider me a
"Why, yes, Bel-Ami."
"You have faith in me?"
"Do you remember what I said to you a while since?"
"About your, marriage, or rather the man you would marry."
"Well, will you promise me one thing?"
"Yes; what is it?"
"To consult me when you receive a proposal and to accept no one
without asking my advice."
"Yes, I will gladly."
"And it is to be a secret between us--not a word to your father or
"Not a word."
Rival approached them saying: "Mademoiselle, your father wants you
in the ballroom."
She said: "Come, Bel-Ami," but he refused, for he had decided to
leave at once, wishing to be alone with his thoughts. He went in
search of his wife, and found her drinking chocolate at the buffet
with two strange men. She introduced her husband without naming
In a short while, he asked: "Shall we go?"
"Whenever you like."
She took his arm and they passed through the almost deserted rooms.
Madeleine asked: "Where is Mme. Walter; I should like to bid her
"It is unnecessary. She would try to keep us in the ballroom, and I
have had enough."
"You are right."
On the way home they did not speak. But when they had entered their
room, Madeleine, without even taking off her veil, said to him with
a smile: "I have a surprise for you."
He growled ill-naturedly: "What is it?"
"I cannot make the effort."
"The day after to-morrow is the first of January."
"It is the season for New Year's gifts."
"Here is yours, which Laroche handed me just now." She gave him a
small black box which resembled a jewel-casket.
He opened it indifferently and saw the cross of the Legion of Honor.
He turned a trifle pale, then smiled, and said: "I should have
preferred ten millions. That did not cost him much."
She had expected a transport of delight and was irritated by his
"You are incomprehensible. Nothing seems to satisfy you."
He replied calmly: "That man is only paying his debts; he owes me a
great deal more."
She was astonished at his tone, and said: "It is very nice, however,
at your age."
He replied: "I should have much more."
He took the casket, placed it on the mantelpiece, and looked for
some minutes at the brilliant star within it, then he closed it with
a shrug of his shoulders and began to prepare to retire.
"L'Officiel" of January 1 announced that M. Prosper Georges du Roy
had been decorated with the Legion of Honor for exceptional
services. The name was written in two words, and that afforded
Georges more pleasure than the decoration itself.
An hour after having read that notice, he received a note from Mme.
Walter, inviting him to come and bring his wife to dine with them
that evening, to celebrate his distinction.
At first he hesitated, then throwing the letter in the fire, he said
to Madeleine: "We shall dine at the Walters' this evening."
In her surprise she exclaimed: "Why, I thought you would never set
your foot in their house again."
His sole reply was: "I have changed my mind."
When they arrived at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore, they found Mme.
Walter alone in the dainty boudoir in which she received her
intimate friends. She was dressed in black and her hair was
powdered. At a distance she appeared like an old lady, in proximity,
like a youthful one.
"Are you in mourning?" asked, Madeleine.
She replied sadly: "Yes and no. I have lost none of my relatives,
but I have arrived at an age when one should wear somber colors. I
wear it to-day to inaugurate it; hitherto I have worn it in my
The dinner was somewhat tedious. Suzanne alone talked incessantly.
Rose seemed preoccupied. The journalist was overwhelmed with
congratulations, after the meal, when all repaired to the drawing-
rooms. Mme. Walter detained him as they were about to enter the
salon, saying: "I will never speak of anything to you again, only
come to see me, Georges. It is impossible for me to live without
you. I see you, I feel you, in my heart all day and all night. It is
as if I had drunk a poison which preyed upon me. I cannot bear it. I
would rather be as an old woman to you. I powdered my hair for that
reason to-night; but come here--come from time to time as a friend."
He replied calmly: "Very well. It is unnecessary to speak of it
again. You see I came to-day on receipt of your letter."
Walter, who had preceded them, with his two daughters and Madeleine,
awaited Du Roy near the picture of "Christ Walking on the Water."
"Only think," said he, "I found my wife yesterday kneeling before
that painting as if in a chapel. She was praying!"
Mme. Walter replied in a firm voice, in a voice in which vibrated a
secret exaltation: "That Christ will save my soul. He gives me fresh
courage and strength every time that I look at Him." And pausing
before the picture, she murmured: "How beautiful He is! How
frightened those men are, and how they love Him! Look at His head,
His eyes, how simple and supernatural He is at the same time!"
Suzanne cried: "Why, He looks like you, Bel-Ami! I am sure He looks
like you. The resemblance is striking."
She made him stand beside the painting and everyone recognized the
likeness. Du Roy was embarrassed. Walter thought it very singular;
Madeleine, with a smile, remarked that Jesus looked more manly. Mme.
Walter stood by motionless, staring fixedly at her lover's face, her
cheeks as white as her hair.
During the remainder of the winter, the Du Roys often visited the
Walters. Georges, too, frequently dined there alone, Madeleine
pleading fatigue and preferring to remain at home. He had chosen
Friday as his day, and Mme. Walter never invited anyone else on that
evening; it belonged to Bel-Ami. Often in a dark corner or behind a
tree in the conservatory, Mme. Walter embraced the young man and
whispered in his ear: "I love you, I love you! I love you
But he always repulsed her coldly, saying: "If you persist in that,
I will not come again."
Toward the end of March people talked of the marriage of the two
sisters: Rose was to marry, Dame Rumor said, Count de Latour-Ivelin
and Suzanne, the Marquis de Cazolles. The subject of Suzanne's
possible marriage had not been broached again between her and
Georges until one morning, the latter having been brought home by M.
Walter to lunch, he whispered to Suzanne: "Come, let us give the
fish some bread."
They proceeded to the conservatory in which was the marble basin
containing the fish. As Georges and Suzanne leaned over its edge,
they saw their reflections in the water and smiled at them.
Suddenly, he said in a low voice: "It is not right of you to keep
secrets from me, Suzanne."
"What secrets, Bel-Ami?"
"Do you remember what you promised me here the night of the fete?"
"To consult me every time you received a proposal."
"Well, you have received one!"
"You know very well."
"No, I swear I do not."
"Yes, you do. It is from that fop of a Marquis de Cazolles."
"He is not a fop."
"That may be, but he is stupid. He is no match for you who are so
pretty, so fresh, so bright!"
She asked with a smile: "What have you against him?"
"Yes, you have. He is not all that you say he is."
"He is a fool, and an intriguer."
She glanced at him: "What ails you?"
He spoke as if tearing a secret from the depths of his heart: "I am-
-I am jealous of him."
She was astonished.
"Because I love you and you know it"
Then she said severely: "You are mad, Bel-Ami!"
He replied: "I know that I am! Should I confess it--I, a married
man, to you, a young girl? I am worse than mad--I am culpable,
wretched--I have no possible hope, and that thought almost destroys
my reason. When I hear that you are going to be married, I feel
murder in my heart. You must forgive me, Suzanne."
He paused. The young girl murmured half sadly, half gaily: "It is a
pity that you are married; but what can you do? It cannot be
He turned toward her abruptly and said: "If I were free would you
She replied: "Yes, Bel-Ami, I would marry you because I love you
better than any of the others."
He rose and stammering: "Thanks--thanks--do not, I implore you, say
yes to anyone. Wait a while. Promise me."
Somewhat confused, and without comprehending what he asked, she
whispered: "I promise."
Du Roy threw a large piece of bread into the water and fled, without
saying adieu, as if he were beside himself. Suzanne, in surprise,
returned to the salon.
When Du Roy arrived home, he asked Madeleine, who was writing
letters: "Shall you dine at the Walters' Friday? I am going."
She hesitated: "No, I am not well. I prefer to remain here."
"As you like. No one will force you." Then he took up his hat and
For some time he had watched and followed her, knowing all her
actions. The time he had awaited had come at length.
On Friday he dressed early, in order, as he said, to make several
calls before going to M. Walter's. At about six o'clock, after
having kissed his wife, he went in search of a cab. He said to the
cabman: "You can stop at No. 17 Rue Fontaine, and remain there until
I order you to go on. Then you can take me to the restaurant Du Coq-
Faisan, Rue Lafayette."
The cab rolled slowly on; Du Roy lowered the shades. When in front
of his house, he kept watch of it. After waiting ten minutes, he saw
Madeleine come out and go toward the boulevards. When she was out of
earshot, he put his head out of the window and cried: "Go on!"
The cab proceeded on its way and stopped at the Coq-Faisan. Georges
entered the dining-room and ate slowly, looking at his watch from
time to time. At seven-thirty he left and drove to Rue La
Rochefoucauld. He mounted to the third story of a house in that
street, and asked the maid who opened the door: "Is M. Guibert de
Lorme at home?"
He was shown into the drawing-room, and after waiting some time, a
tall man with a military bearing and gray hair entered. He was the
Du Roy bowed, then said: "As I suspected, my wife is with her lover
in furnished apartments they have rented on Rue des Martyrs."
The magistrate bowed: "I am at your service, sir."
"Very well, I have a cab below." And with three other officers they
proceeded to the house in which Du Roy expected to surprise his
wife. One officer remained at the door to watch the exit; on the
second floor they halted; Du Roy rang the bell and they waited. In
two or three minutes Georges rang again several times in succession.
They heard a light step approach, and a woman's voice, evidently
"Who is there?"
The police officer replied: "Open in the name of the law."
The voice repeated: "Who are you?"
"I am the police commissioner. Open, or I will force the door."
The voice continued: "What do you want?"
Du Roy interrupted: "It is I; it is useless to try to escape us."
The footsteps receded and then returned. Georges said: "If you do
not open, we will force the door."
Receiving no reply he shook the door so violently that the old lock
gave way, and the young man almost fell over Madeleine, who was
standing in the antechamber in her petticoat, her hair loosened, her
feet bare, and a candle in her hand.
He exclaimed: "It is she. We have caught them," and he rushed into
the room. The commissioner turned to Madeleine, who had followed
them through the rooms, in one of which were the remnants of a
supper, and looking into her eyes said:
"You are Mme. Claire Madeleine du Roy, lawful wife of M. Prosper
Georges du Roy, here present?"
She replied: "Yes, sir."
"What are you doing here?"
She made no reply. The officer repeated his question; still she did
not reply. He waited several moments and then said: "If you do not
confess, Madame, I shall be forced to inquire into the matter."
They could see a man's form concealed beneath the covers of the bed.
Du Roy advanced softly and uncovered the livid face of M. Laroche-
The officer again asked: "Who are you?"
As the man did not reply, he continued: "I am the police
commissioner and I call upon you to tell me your name. If you do not
answer, I shall be forced to arrest you. In any case, rise. I will
interrogate you when you are dressed."
In the meantime Madeleine had regained her composure, and seeing
that all was lost, she was determined to put a brave face upon the
matter. Her eyes sparkled with the audacity of bravado, and taking a
piece of paper she lighted the ten candles in the candelabra as if
for a reception. That done, she leaned against the mantelpiece, took
a cigarette out of a case, and began to smoke, seeming not to see
In the meantime the man in the bed had dressed himself and advanced.
The officer turned to him: "Now, sir, will you tell me who you are?"
He made no reply.
"I see I shall have to arrest you."
Then the man cried: "Do not touch me. I am inviolable."
Du Roy rushed toward him exclaiming: "I can have you arrested if I
want to!" Then he added: "This man's name is Laroche-Mathieu,
minister of foreign affairs."
The officer retreated and stammered: "Sir, will you tell me who you
"For once that miserable fellow has not lied. I am indeed Laroche-
Mathieu, minister," and pointing to Georges' breast, he added, "and
that scoundrel wears upon his coat the cross of honor which I gave
Du Roy turned pale. With a rapid gesture he tore the decoration from
his buttonhole and throwing it in the fire exclaimed: "That is what
a decoration is worth which is given by a scoundrel of your order."
The commissioner stepped between them, as they stood face to face,
saying: "Gentlemen, you forget yourselves and your dignity."
Madeleine smoked on calmly, a smile hovering about her lips. The
officer continued: "Sir, I have surprised you alone with Mme. du Roy
under suspicious circumstances; what have you to say?"
"Nothing; do your duty."
The commissioner turned to Madeleine: "Do you confess, Madame, that
this gentleman is your lover?"
She replied boldly: "I do not deny it. That is sufficient."
The magistrate made several notes; when he had finished writing, the
minister, who stood ready, coat upon arm, hat in hand, asked: "Do
you need me any longer, sir? Can I go?"
Du Roy addressed him with an insolent smile: "Why should you go, we
have finished; we will leave you alone together." Then, taking the
officer's arm, he said: "Let us go, sir; we have nothing more to do
in this place."
An hour later Georges du Roy entered the office of "La Vie
Francaise." M. Walter was there; he raised his head and asked:
"What, are you here? Why are you not dining at my house? Where have
you come from?"
Georges replied with emphasis: "I have just found out something
about the minister of foreign affairs."
"I found him alone with my wife in hired apartments. The
commissioner of police was my witness. The minister is ruined."
"Are you not jesting?"
"No, I am not. I shall even write an article on it."
"What is your object?"
"To overthrow that wretch, that public malefactor."
Georges placed his hat upon a chair and added: "Woe to those whom I
find in my path. I never pardon."
The manager stammered: "But your wife?"
"I shall apply for a divorce at once."
"Yes, I am master of the situation. I shall be free. I have a stated
income. I shall offer myself as a candidate in October in my native
district, where I am known. I could not win any respect were I to be
hampered with a wife whose honor was sullied. She took me for a
simpleton, but since I have known her game, I have watched her, and
now I shall get on, for I shall be free."
"I will write the item; it must be handled prudently."
The old man hesitated, then said: "Do so: it serves those right who
are caught in such scrapes."
THE FINAL PLOT
Three months had elapsed. Georges du Roy's divorce had been
obtained. His wife had resumed the name of Forestier.
As the Walters were going to Trouville on the fifteenth of July,
they decided to spend a day in the country before starting.
The day chosen was Thursday, and they set out at nine o'clock in the
morning in a large six-seated carriage drawn by four horses. They
were going to lunch at Saint-Germain. Bel-Ami had requested that he
might be the only young man in the party, for he could not bear the
presence of the Marquis de Cazolles. At the last moment, however, it
was decided that Count de Latour-Ivelin should go, for he and Rose
had been betrothed a month. The day was delightful. Georges, who was
very pale, gazed at Suzanne as they sat in the carriage and their
Mme. Walter was contented and happy. The luncheon was a long and
merry one. Before leaving for Paris, Du Roy proposed a walk on the
terrace. They stopped on the way to admire the view; as they passed
on, Georges and Suzanne lingered behind. The former whispered
softly: "Suzanne, I love you madly."
She whispered in return: "I love you too, Bel-Ami."
He continued: "If I cannot have you for my wife, I shall leave the
She replied: "Ask papa. Perhaps he will consent."
He answered impatiently: "No, I repeat that it is useless; the door
of the house would be closed against me. I would lose my position on
the journal, and we would not even meet. Those are the consequences
a formal proposal would produce. They have promised you to the
Marquis de Cazolles; they hope you will finally say 'yes' and they
"What can we do?"
"Have you the courage to brave your father and mother for my sake?"
"Well! There is only one way. It must come from you and not from me.
You are an indulged child; they let you say anything and are not
surprised at any audacity on your part. Listen, then! This evening
on returning home, go to your mother first, and tell her that you
want to marry me. She will be very much agitated and very angry."
Suzanne interrupted him: "Oh, mamma would be glad."
He replied quickly: "No, no, you do not know her. She will be more
vexed than your father. But you must insist, you must not yield; you
must repeat that you will marry me and me alone. Will you do so?"
"And on leaving your mother, repeat the same thing to your father
"Well, and then--"
"And then matters will reach a climax! If you are determined to be
my wife, my dear, dear, little Suzanne, I will elope with you."
She clapped her hands, as all the charming adventures in the
romances she had read occurred to her, and cried:
"Oh, what bliss! When will you elope with me?"
He whispered very low: "To-night!"
"Where shall we go?"
"That is my secret. Think well of what you are doing. Remember that
after that flight you must become my wife. It is the only means, but
it is dangerous--very dangerous--for you."
"I have decided. Where shall I meet you?"
"Meet me about midnight in the Place de la Concorde."
"I will be there."
He clasped her hand. "Oh, how I love you! How brave and good you
are! Then you do not want to marry Marquis de Cazolles?"
Mme. Walter, turning her head, called out: "Come, little one; what
are you and Bel-Ami doing?"
They rejoined the others and returned by way of Chatou. When the
carriage arrived at the door of the mansion, Mme. Walter pressed
Georges to dine with them, but he refused, and returned home to look
over his papers and destroy any compromising letters. Then he
repaired in a cab with feverish haste to the place of meeting. He
waited there some time, and thinking his ladylove had played him
false, he was about to drive off, when a gentle voice whispered at
the door of his cab: "Are you there, Bel-Ami?"
"Is it you, Suzanne?"
"Ah, get in." She entered the cab and he bade the cabman drive on.
He asked: "Well, how did it all pass off?"
She murmured faintly:
"Oh, it was terrible, with mamma especially."
"Your mamma? What did she say? Tell me!"
"Oh, it was frightful! I entered her room and made the little speech
I had prepared. She turned pale and cried: 'Never!' I wept, I
protested that I would marry only you; she was like a mad woman; she
vowed I should be sent to a convent. I never saw her like that,
never. Papa, hearing her agitated words, entered. He was not as
angry as she was, but he said you were not a suitable match for me.
As they had vexed me, I talked louder than they, and papa with a
dramatic air bade me leave the room. That decided me to fly with
you. And here I am; where shall we go?"
He replied, encircling her waist with his arm: "It is too late to
take the train; this cab will take us to Sevres where we can spend
the night, and to-morrow we will leave for La Roche-Guyon. It is a
pretty village on the banks of the Seine between Mantes and
The cab rolled on. Georges took the young girl's hand and kissed it
respectfully. He did not know what to say to her, being unaccustomed
to Platonic affection. Suddenly he perceived that she was weeping.
He asked in affright:
"What ails you, my dear little one?"
She replied tearfully: "I was thinking that poor mamma could not
sleep if she had found out that I was gone!"
* * * * * * *
Her mother indeed was not asleep.
When Suzanne left the room, Mine. Walter turned to her husband and
asked in despair: "What does that mean?"
"It means that that intriguer has influenced her. It is he who has
made her refuse Cazolles. You have flattered and cajoled him, too.
It was Bel-Ami here, Bel-Ami there, from morning until night. Now
you are paid for it!"
"Yes, you. You are as much infatuated with him as Madeleine,
Suzanne, and the rest of them. Do you think that I did not see that
you could not exist for two days without him?"
She rose tragically: "I will not allow you to speak to me thus. You
forget that I was not brought up like you, in a shop."
With an oath, he left the room, banging the door behind him.
When he was gone, she thought over all that had taken place. Suzanne
was in love with Bel-Ami, and Bel-Ami wanted to marry Suzanne! No,
it was not true! She was mistaken; he would not be capable of such
an action; he knew nothing of Suzanne's escapade. They would take
Suzanne away for six months and that would end it.
She rose, saying: "I cannot rest in this uncertainty. I shall lose
my reason. I will arouse Suzanne and question her."
She proceeded to her daughter's room. She entered; it was empty; the
bed had not been slept in. A horrible suspicion possessed her and
she flew to her husband. He was in bed, reading.
She gasped: "Have you seen Suzanne?"
"She is--gone! she is not in her room."
With one bound he was out of bed; he rushed to his daughter's room;
not finding her there, he sank into a chair. His wife had followed
"Well?" she asked.
He had not the strength to reply: he was no longer angry; he
groaned: "He has her--we are lost."
"Why, he must marry her now!"
She cried wildly: "Marry her, never! Are you mad?"
He replied sadly: "It will do no good to yell! He has disgraced her.
The best thing to be done is to give her to him, and at once, too;
then no one will know of this escapade."
She repeated in great agitation: "Never; he shall never have
Overcome, Walter murmured: "But he has her. And he will keep her as
long as we do not yield; therefore, to avoid a scandal we must do so
But his wife replied: "No, no, I will never consent."
Impatiently he returned: "It is a matter of necessity. Ah, the
scoundrel--how he has deceived us! But he is shrewd at any rate. She
might have done better as far as position, but not intelligence and
future, is concerned. He is a promising young man. He will be a
deputy or a minister some day."
Mme. Walter, however, repeated wildly: "I will never let him marry
Suzanne! Do you hear--never!"
In his turn he became incensed, and like a practical man defended
Bel-Ami. "Be silent! I tell you he must marry her! And who knows?
Perhaps we shall not regret it! With men of his stamp one never
knows what may come about. You saw how he downed Laroche-Mathieu in
three articles, and that with a dignity which was very difficult to
maintain in his position as husband. So, we shall see."
Mme. Walter felt a desire to cry aloud and tear her hair. But she
only repeated angrily: "He shall not have her!"
Walter rose, took up his lamp, and said: "You are silly, like all
women! You only act on impulse. You do not know how to accommodate
yourself to circumstances. You are stupid! I tell you he shall marry
her; it is essential." And he left the room.
Mme. Walter remained alone with her suffering, her despair. If only
a priest were at hand! She would cast herself at his feet and
confess all her errors and her agony--he would prevent the marriage!
Where could she find a priest? Where should she turn? Before her
eyes floated, like a vision, the calm face of "Christ Walking on the
Water," as she had seen it in the painting. He seemed to say to her:
"Come unto Me. Kneel at My feet. I will comfort and instruct you as
to what to do."
She took the lamp and sought the conservatory; she opened the door
leading into the room which held the enormous canvas, and fell upon
her knees before it. At first she prayed fervently, but as she
raised her eyes and saw the resemblance to Bel-Ami, she murmured:
"Jesus--Jesus--" while her thoughts were with her daughter and her
lover. She uttered a wild cry, as she pictured them together--alone-
-and fell into a swoon. When day broke they found Mme. Walter still
lying unconscious before the painting. She was so ill, after that,
that her life was almost despaired of.
M. Walter explained his daughter's absence to the servants by saying
to them that she had been sent to a convent for a short time. Then
he replied to a long letter from Du Roy, giving his consent to his
marriage with his daughter. Bel-Ami had posted that epistle when he
left Paris, having prepared it the night of his departure. In it he
said in respectful terms that he had loved the young girl a long
time; that there had never been any understanding between them, but
that as she came to him to say: "I will be your wife," he felt
authorized in keeping her, in hiding her, in fact, until he had
obtained a reply from her parents, whose wishes were to him of more
value than those of his betrothed.
Georges and Suzanne spent a week at La Roche-Guyon. Never had the
young girl enjoyed herself so thoroughly. As she passed for his
sister, they lived in a chaste and free intimacy, a kind of living
companionship. He thought it wiser to treat her with respect, and
when he said to her: "We will return to Paris to-morrow; your father
has bestowed your hand upon me" she whispered naively: "Already?
This is just as pleasant as being your wife."
It was dark in the apartments in the Rue de Constantinople, when
Georges du Roy and Clotilde de Marelle, having met at the door,
entered them. Without giving him time to raise the shades, the
"So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter?"
He replied in the affirmative, adding gently: "Did you not know it?"
She answered angrily: "So you are going to marry Suzanne Walter? For
three months you have deceived me. Everyone knew of it but me. My
husband told me. Since you left your wife you have been preparing
for that stroke, and you made use of me in the interim. What a
rascal you are!"
He asked: "How do you make that out? I had a wife who deceived me; I
surprised her, obtained a divorce, and am now going to marry
another. What is more simple than that?"
She murmured: "What a villain!"
He said with dignity: "I beg of you to be more careful as to what
She rebelled at such words from him: "What! Would you like me to
handle you with gloves? You have conducted yourself like a rascal
ever since I have known you, and now you do not want me to speak of
it. You deceive everyone; you gather pleasure and money everywhere,
and you want me to treat you as an honest man."
He rose; his lips twitched: "Be silent or I will make you leave
She cried: "Leave here--you will make me--you? You forget that it is
I who have paid for these apartments from the very first, and you
threaten to put me out of them. Be silent, good-for-nothing! Do you
think I do not know how you stole a portion of Vaudrec's bequest
from Madeleine? Do you think I do not know about Suzanne?"
He seized her by her shoulders and shook her. "Do not speak of that;
I forbid you."
"I know you have ruined her!"
He would have taken anything else, but that lie exasperated him. He
repeated: "Be silent--take care"--and he shook her as he would have
shaken the bough of a tree. Still she continued; "You were her ruin,
I know it." He rushed upon her and struck her as if she had been a
man. Suddenly she ceased speaking, and groaned beneath his blows.
Finally he desisted, paced the room several times in order to regain
his self-possession, entered the bedroom, filled the basin with cold
water and bathed his head. Then he washed his hands and returned to
see what Clotilde was doing. She had not moved. She lay upon the
floor weeping softly. He asked harshly:
"Will you soon have done crying?"
She did not reply. He stood in the center of the room, somewhat
embarrassed, somewhat ashamed, as he saw the form lying before him.
Suddenly he seized his hat. "Good evening. You can leave the key
with the janitor when you are ready. I will not await your
He left the room, closed the door, sought the porter, and said to
him: "Madame is resting. She will go out soon. You can tell the
proprietor that I have given notice for the first of October."
His marriage was fixed for the twentieth; it was to take place at
the Madeleine. There had been a great deal of gossip about the
entire affair, and many different reports were circulated. Mme.
Walter had aged greatly; her hair was gray and she sought solace in
In the early part of September "La Vie Francaise" announced that
Baron du Roy de Cantel had become its chief editor, M. Walter
reserving the title of manager. To that announcement were subjoined
the names of the staff of art and theatrical critics, political
reporters, and so forth. Journalists no longer sneered in speaking
of "La Vie Francaise;" its success had been rapid and complete. The
marriage of its chief editor was what was called a "Parisian event,"
Georges du Roy and the Walters having occasioned much comment for
The ceremony took place on a clear, autumn day. At ten o'clock the
curious began to assemble; at eleven o'clock, detachments of
officers came to disperse the crowd. Soon after, the first guests
arrived; they were followed by others, women in rich costumes, men,
grave and dignified. The church slowly began to fill. Norbert de
Varenne espied Jacques Rival, and joined him.
"Well," said he, "sharpers always succeed."
His companion, who was not envious, replied: "So much the better for
him. His fortune is made."
Rival asked: "Do you know what has become of his wife?"
The poet smiled. "Yes and no--she lives a very retired life, I have
been told, in the Montmartre quarter. But--there is a but--for some
time I have read political articles in 'La Plume,' which resemble
those of Forestier and Du Roy. They are supposed to be written by a
Jean Le Dol, a young, intelligent, handsome man--something like our
friend Georges--who has become acquainted with Mme. Forestier. From
that I have concluded that she likes beginners and that they like
her. She is, moreover, rich; Vaudrec and Laroche-Mathieu were not
attentive to her for nothing."
Rival asked: "Tell me, is it true that Mme. Walter and Du Roy do not
"Yes. She did not wish to give him her daughter's hand. But he
threatened the old man with shocking revelations. Walter remembered
Laroche-Mathieu's fate and yielded at once; but his wife, obstinate
like all women, vowed that she would never address a word to her
son-in-law. It is comical to see them together! She looks like the
statue of vengeance, and he is very uncomfortable, although he tries
to appear at his ease."
Suddenly the beadle struck the floor three times with his staff. All
the people turned to see what was coming, and the young bride
appeared in the doorway leaning upon her father's arm. She looked
like a beautiful doll, crowned with a wreath of orange blossoms. She
advanced with bowed head. The ladies smiled and murmured as she
passed them. The men whispered:
M. Walter walked by her side with exaggerated dignity. Behind them
came four maids of honor dressed in pink and forming a charming
court for so dainty a queen.
Mme. Walter followed on the arm of Count de Latour-Ivelin's aged
father. She did not walk; she dragged herself along, ready to faint
at every step. She had aged and grown thinner.
Next came Georges du Roy with an old lady, a stranger. He held his
head proudly erect and wore upon his coat, like a drop of blood, the
red ribbon of the Legion of Honor.
He was followed by the relatives: Rose, who had been married six
weeks, with a senator; Count de Latour-Ivelin with Viscountess de
Percemur. Following them was a motley procession of associates and
friends of Du Roy, country cousins of Mme. Walter's, and guests
invited by her husband.
The tones of the organ filled the church; the large doors at the
entrance were closed, and Georges kneeled beside his bride in the
choir. The new bishop of Tangiers, cross in hand, miter on head,
entered from the sacristy, to unite them in the name of the
Almighty. He asked the usual questions, rings were exchanged, words
pronounced which bound them forever, and then he delivered an
address to the newly married couple.
The sound of stifled sobs caused several to turn their heads. Mme.
Walter was weeping, her face buried in her hands. She had been
obliged to yield; but since the day on which she had told Du Roy:
"You are the vilest man I know; never speak to me again, for I will
not answer you," she had suffered intolerable anguish. She hated
Suzanne bitterly; her hatred was caused by unnatural jealousy. The
bishop was marrying a daughter to her mother's lover, before her and
two thousand persons, and she could say nothing; she could not stop
him. She could not cry: "He is mine, that man is my lover. That
union you are blessing is infamous."
Several ladies, touched by her apparent grief, murmured: "How
affected that poor mother is!"
The bishop said: "You are among the favored ones of the earth. You,
sir, who are raised above others by your talent--you who write,
instruct, counsel, guide the people, have a grand mission to
fulfill--a fine example to set."
Du Roy listened to him proudly. A prelate of the Roman Church spoke
thus to him. A number of illustrious people had come thither on his
account. It seemed to him that an invisible power was impelling him
on. He would become one of the masters of the country--he, the son
of the poor peasants of Canteleu. He had given his parents five
thousand francs of Count de Vaudrec's fortune and he intended
sending them fifty thousand more; then they could buy a small estate
and live happily.
The bishop had finished his harangue, a priest ascended the altar,
and the organ pealed forth. Suddenly the vibrating tones melted into
delicate, melodious ones, like the songs of birds; then again they
swelled into deep, full tones and human voices chanted over their
bowed heads. Vauri and Landeck of the Opera were singing.
Bel-Ami, kneeling beside Suzanne, bowed his head. At that moment he
felt almost pious, for he was filled with gratitude for the
blessings showered upon him. Without knowing just whom he was
addressing, he offered up thanks for his success. When the ceremony
was over, he rose, and, giving his arm to his wife, they passed into
the sacristy. A stream of people entered. Georges fancied himself a
king whom the people were coming to greet. He shook hands, uttered
words which signified nothing, and replied to congratulations with
the words: "You are very kind."
Suddenly he saw Mme. de Marelle, and the recollection of all the
kisses he had given her and which she had returned, of all their
caresses, of the sound of her voice, possessed him with the mad
desire to regain her. She was so pretty, with her bright eyes and
roguish air! She advanced somewhat timidly and offered him her hand.
He took, retained, and pressed it as if to say: "I shall love you
always, I am yours."
Their eyes met, smiling, bright, full of love. She murmured in her
soft tones: "Until we meet again, sir!" and he gaily repeated her
Others approached, and she passed on. Finally the throng dispersed.
Georges placed Suzanne's hand upon his arm to pass through the
church with her. It was filled with people, for all had resumed
their seats in order to see them leave the sacred edifice together.
He walked along slowly, with a firm step, his head erect. He saw no
one. He only thought of himself.
When they reached the threshold he saw a crowd gathered outside,
come to gaze at him, Georges du Roy. The people of Paris envied him.
Raising his eyes, he saw beyond the Place de la Concorde, the
chamber of deputies, and it seemed to him that it was only a stone's
throw from the portico of the Madeleine to that of the Palais
Leisurely they descended the steps between two rows of spectators,
but Georges did not see them; his thoughts had returned to the past,
and before his eyes, dazzled by the bright sunlight, floated the
image of Mme. de Marelle, rearranging the curly locks upon her
temples before the mirror in their apartments.