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Chapter 13 MADAME DE MARELLE

  • Autumn had come. The Du Roys had spent the entire summer in Paris, leading _igorous campaign in "La Vie Francaise," in favor of the new cabinet. Althoug_t was only the early part of October, the chamber was about to resume it_essions, for affairs in Morocco were becoming menacing. The celebrated speec_ade by Count de Lambert Sarrazin had furnished Du Roy with material for te_rticles on the Algerian colony. "La Vie Francaise" had gained considerabl_restige by its connection with the power; it was the first to give politica_ews, and every newspaper in Paris and the provinces sought information fro_t. It was quoted, feared, and began to be respected: it was no longer th_rgan of a group of political intriguers, but the avowed mouthpiece of th_abinet. Laroche-Mathieu was the soul of the journal and Du Roy his speaking- trumpet. M. Walter retired discreetly into the background. Madeleine's salo_ecame an influential center in which several members of the cabinet met ever_eek. The president of the council had even dined there twice; the minister o_oreign affairs was quite at home at the Du Roys; he came at any hour, bringing dispatches or information, which he dictated either to the husband o_ife as if they were his secretaries. After the minister had departed, when D_oy was alone with Madeleine, he uttered threats and insinuations against the
  • "parvenu," as he called him. His wife simply shrugged her shoulder_cornfully, repeating: "Become a minister and you can do the same; until then, be silent."
  • His reply was: "No one knows of what I am capable; perhaps they will find ou_ome day."
  • She answered philosophically: "He who lives will see."
  • The morning of the reopening of the Chamber, Du Roy lunched with Laroche- Mathieu in order to receive instructions from him, before the session, for _olitical article the following day in "La Vie Francaise," which was to be _ort of official declaration of the plans of the cabinet. After listening t_aroche-Mathieu's eloquence for some time with jealousy in his heart, Du Ro_auntered slowly toward the office to commence his work, for he had nothing t_o until four o'clock, at which hour he was to meet Mme. de Marelle at Rue d_onstantinople. They met there regularly twice a week, Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • On entering the office, he was handed a sealed dispatch; it was from Mme.
  • Walter, and read thus:
  • "It is absolutely necessary that I should see you to-day. It is important.
  • Expect me at two o'clock at Rue de Constantinople. I can render you a grea_ervice; your friend until death,"
  • "VIRGINIE."
  • He exclaimed: "Heavens! what a bore!" and left the office at once, too muc_nnoyed to work.
  • For six weeks he had ineffectually tried to break with Mme. Walter. At thre_uccessive meetings she had been a prey to remorse, and had overwhelmed he_over with reproaches. Angered by those scenes and already weary of th_ramatic woman, he had simply avoided her, hoping that the affair would end i_hat way.
  • But she persecuted him with her affection, summoned him at all times b_elegrams to meet her at street corners, in shops, or public gardens. She wa_ery different from what he had fancied she would be, trying to attract him b_ctions ridiculous in one of her age. It disgusted him to hear her call him:
  • "My rat—my dog—my treasure—my jewel—my blue-bird"—and to see her assume a kin_f childish modesty when he approached. It seemed to him that being the mothe_f a family, a woman of the world, she should have been more sedate, and hav_ielded With tears if she chose, but with the tears of a Dido and not of _uliette. He never heard her call him "Little one" or "Baby," without wishin_o reply "Old woman," to take his hat with an oath and leave the room.
  • At first they had often met at Rue de Constantinople, but Du Roy, who feare_n encounter with Mme. de Marelle, invented a thousand and one pretexts i_rder to avoid that rendezvous. He was therefore obliged to either lunch o_ine at her house daily, when she would clasp his hand under cover of th_able or offer him her lips behind the doors. Above all, Georges enjoyed bein_hrown so much in contact with Suzanne; she made sport of everything an_verybody with cutting appropriateness. At length, however, he began to fee_n unconquerable repugnance to the love lavished upon him by the mother; h_ould no longer see her, hear her, nor think of her without anger. He cease_alling upon her, replying to her letters, and yielding to her appeals. Sh_inally divined that he no longer loved her, and the discovery caused he_nutterable anguish; but she watched him, followed him in a cab with draw_linds to the office, to his house, in the hope of seeing him pass by. H_ould have liked to strangle her, but he controlled himself on account of hi_osition on "La Vie Francaise" and he endeavored by means of coldness, an_ven at times harsh words, to make her comprehend that all was at an en_etween them.
  • Then, too, she persisted in devising ruses for summoning him to Rue d_onstantinople, and he was in constant fear that the two women would some da_eet face to face at the door.
  • On the other hand, his affection for Mme. de Marelle had increased during th_ummer. They were both Bohemians by nature; they took excursions together t_rgenteuil, Bougival, Maisons, and Poissy, and when he was forced to retur_nd dine at Mme. Walter's, he detested his mature mistress more thoroughly, a_e recalled the youthful one he had just left. He was congratulating himsel_pon having freed himself almost entirely from the former's clutches, when h_eceived the telegram above mentioned.
  • He re-read it as he walked along. He thought: "What does that old owl wan_ith me? I am certain she has nothing to tell me except that she adores me.
  • However, I will see, perhaps there is some truth in it. Clotilde is coming a_our, I must get rid of the other one at three or soon after, provided they d_ot meet. What jades women are!"
  • As he uttered those words he was reminded of his wife, who was the only on_ho did not torment him; she lived by his side and seemed to love him ver_uch at the proper time, for she never permitted anything to interfere wit_er ordinary occupations of life. He strolled toward the appointed place o_eeting, mentally cursing Mme. Walter.
  • "Ah, I will receive her in such a manner that she will not tell me anything.
  • First of all, I will give her to understand that I shall never cross he_hreshold again."
  • He entered to await her. She soon arrived and, seeing him, exclaimed: "Ah, yo_eceived my dispatch! How fortunate!"
  • "Yes, I received it at the office just as I was setting out for the Chamber.
  • What do you want?" he asked ungraciously.
  • She had raised her veil in order to kiss him, and approached him timidly an_umbly with the air of a beaten dog.
  • "How unkind you are to me; how harshly you speak! What have I done to you? Yo_o not know what I have suffered for you!"
  • He muttered: "Are you going to begin that again?"
  • She stood near him awaiting a smile, a word of encouragement, to cast hersel_nto his arms, and whispered: "You need not have won me to treat me thus; yo_ight have left me virtuous and happy. Do you remember what you said to me i_he church and how you forced me to enter this house? And now this is the wa_ou speak to me, receive me! My God, my God, how you maltreat me!"
  • He stamped his foot and said violently: "Enough, be silent! I can never se_ou a moment without hearing that refrain. You were mature when you gav_ourself to me. I am much obliged to you; I am infinitely grateful, but I nee_ot be tied to your apron-strings until I die! You have a husband and I _ife. Neither of us is free; it was all a caprice, and now it is at an end!"
  • She said: "How brutal you are, how coarse and villainous! No, I was no longe_ young girl, but I had never loved, never wavered in my dignity."
  • He interrupted her: "I know it, you have told me that twenty times; but yo_ave had two children."
  • She drew back as if she had been struck: "Oh, Georges!" And pressing her hand_o her heart, she burst into tears.
  • When she began to weep, he took his hat: "Ah, you are crying again! Goo_vening! Is it for this that you sent for me?"
  • She took a step forward in order to bar the way, and drawing a handkerchie_rom her pocket she wiped her eyes. Her voice grew steadier: "No, I came to—t_ive you—political news—to give you the means of earning fifty thousan_rancs—or even more if you wish to."
  • Suddenly softened he asked: "How?"
  • "By chance last evening I heard a conversation between my husband and Laroche.
  • Walter advised the minister not to let you into the secret for you woul_xpose it."
  • Du Roy placed his hat upon a chair and listened attentively.
  • "They are going to take possession of Morocco!"
  • "Why, I lunched with Laroche this morning, and he told me the cabinet'_lans!"
  • "No, my dear, they have deceived you, because they feared their secret woul_e made known."
  • "Sit down," said Georges.
  • He sank into an armchair, while she drew up a stool and took her seat at hi_eet. She continued:
  • "As I think of you continually, I pay attention to what is talked of aroun_e," and she proceeded to tell him what she had heard relative to th_xpedition to Tangiers which had been decided upon the day that Laroch_ssumed his office; she told him how they had little by little bought up, through agents who aroused no suspicions, the Moroccan loan, which had falle_o sixty-four or sixty-five francs; how when the expedition was entered upo_he French government would guarantee the debt, and their friends would mak_ifty or sixty millions.
  • He cried: "Are you sure of that?"
  • She replied: "Yes, I am sure."
  • He continued: "That is indeed fine! As for that rascal of a Laroche, let hi_eware! I will get his ministerial carcass between my fingers yet!"
  • Then, after a moment's reflection, he muttered: "One might profit by that!"
  • "You too can buy some stock," said she; "it is only seventy-two francs."
  • He replied: "But I have no ready money."
  • She raised her eyes to his—eyes full of supplication.
  • "I have thought of that, my darling, and if you love me a little, you will le_e lend it to you."
  • He replied abruptly, almost harshly: "No, indeed."
  • She whispered imploringly: "Listen, there is something you can do withou_orrowing money. I intended buying ten thousand francs' worth of the stock; instead, I will take twenty thousand and you can have half. There will b_othing to pay at once. If it succeeds, we will make seventy thousand francs; if not, you will owe me ten thousand which you can repay at your pleasure."
  • He said again: "No, I do not like those combinations."
  • She tried to persuade him by telling him that she advanced nothing—that th_ayments were made by Walter's bank. She pointed out to him that he had le_he political campaign in "La Vie Francaise," and that he would be very simpl_ot to profit by the results he had helped to bring about. As he stil_esitated, she added: "It is in reality Walter who will advance the money, an_ou have done enough for him to offset that sum."
  • "Very well," said he, "I will do it. If we lose I will pay you back te_housand francs."
  • She was so delighted that she rose, took his head between her hands, an_issed him. At first he did not repulse her, but when she grew more lavis_ith her caresses, he said:
  • "Come, that will do."
  • She gazed at him sadly. "Oh, Georges, I can no longer even embrace you."
  • "No, not to-day. I have a headache."
  • She reseated herself with docility at his feet and asked:
  • "Will you dine with us to-morrow? It would give me such pleasure,"
  • He hesitated at first, but dared not refuse.
  • "Yes, certainly."
  • "Thank you, dearest." She rubbed her cheek against the young man's vest; a_he did so, one of her long black hairs caught on a button; she twisted i_ightly around, then she twisted another around another button and so on. Whe_e rose, he would tear them out of her head, and would carry away with hi_nwittingly a lock of her hair. It would be an invisible bond between them.
  • Involuntarily he would think, would dream of her; he would love her a littl_ore the next day.
  • Suddenly he said: "I must leave you, for I am expected at the Chamber for th_lose of the session. I cannot be absent to-day."
  • She sighed: "Already!" Then adding resignedly: "Go, my darling, but you wil_ome to dinner tomorrow"; she rose abruptly. For a moment she felt a sharp, stinging pain, as if needles had been stuck into her head, but she was glad t_ave suffered for him.
  • "Adieu," said she.
  • He took her in his arms and kissed her eyes coldly; then she offered him he_ips which he brushed lightly as he said: "Come, come, let us hurry; it i_fter three o'clock."
  • She passed out before him saying: "To-morrow at seven"; he repeated her word_nd they separated.
  • Du Roy returned at four o'clock to await his mistress. She was somewhat lat_ecause her husband had come home for a week. She asked:
  • "Can you come to dinner to-morrow? He will be delighted to see you."
  • "No; I dine at the Walters. We have a great many political and financia_atters to talk over."
  • She took off her hat. He pointed to a bag on the mantelpiece: "I bought yo_ome sweetmeats."
  • She clapped her hands. "What a darling you are!" She took them, tasted one, and said: "They are delicious. I shall not leave one. Come, sit down in th_rmchair, I will sit at your feet and eat my bonbons."
  • He smiled as he saw her take the seat a short while since occupied by Mme.
  • Walter. She too, called him "darling, little one, dearest," and the word_eemed to him sweet and caressing from her lips, while from Mme. Walter's the_rritated and nauseated him.
  • Suddenly he remembered the seventy thousand francs he was going to make, an_luntly interrupting Mme. de Marelle's chatter, he said:
  • "Listen, my darling; I am going to intrust you with a message to your husband.
  • Tell him from me to buy to-morrow ten thousand francs' worth of Moroccan stoc_hich is at seventy-two, and I predict that before three months are passed h_ill have made eighty thousand francs. Tell him to maintain absolute silence.
  • Tell him that the expedition to Tangiers, is decided upon, and that the Frenc_overnment will guarantee the Moroccan debt. It is a state secret I a_onfiding to you, remember!"
  • She listened to him gravely and murmured:
  • "Thank you. I will tell my husband this evening. You may rely upon him; h_ill not speak of it; he can be depended upon; there is no danger."
  • She had eaten all of her bonbons and began to toy with the buttons on hi_est. Suddenly she drew a long hair out of the buttonhole and began to laugh.
  • "See! Here is one of Madeleine's hairs; you are a faithful husband!" The_rowing serious, she examined the scarcely perceptible thread more closely an_aid: "It is not Madeleine's, it is dark."
  • He smiled. "It probably belongs to the housemaid."
  • But she glanced at the vest with the care of a police-inspector and found _econd hair twisted around a second button; then she saw a third; and turnin_ale and trembling somewhat, she exclaimed: "Oh, some woman has left hair_round all your buttons."
  • In surprise, he stammered: "Why you—you are mad."
  • She continued to unwind the hairs and cast them upon the floor. With he_oman's instinct she had divined their meaning and gasped in her anger, read_o cry:
  • "She loves you and she wished you to carry away with you something of hers.
  • Oh, you are a traitor." She uttered a shrill, nervous cry: "Oh, it is an ol_oman's hair—here is a white one—you have taken a fancy to an old woman now.
  • Then you do not need me—keep the other one." She rose.
  • He attempted to detain her and stammered: "No—Clo—you are absurd—I do not kno_hose it is—listen—stay—see—stay—"
  • But she repeated: "Keep your old woman—keep her—have a chain made of he_air—of her gray hair—there is enough for that—"
  • Hastily she donned her hat and veil, and when he attempted to touch her sh_truck him in the face, and made her escape while he was stunned by the blow.
  • When he found that he was alone, he cursed Mme. Walter, bathed his face, an_ent out vowing vengeance. That time he would not pardon. No, indeed.
  • He strolled to the boulevard and stopped at a jeweler's to look at _hronometer he had wanted for some time and which would cost eighteen hundre_rancs. He thought with joy: "If I make my seventy thousand francs, I can pa_or it"—and he began to dream of all the things he would do when he got th_oney. First of all he would become a deputy; then he would buy th_hronometer; then he would speculate on 'Change, and then, and then—he did no_nter the office, preferring to confer with Madeleine before seeing Walte_gain and writing his article; he turned toward home. He reached Rue Drouo_hen he paused; he had forgotten to inquire for Count de Vaudrec, who lived o_haussee d'Antin. He retraced his steps with a light heart, thinking of _housand things—of the fortune he would make,—of that rascal of a Laroche, an_f old Walter.
  • He was not at all uneasy as to Clotilde's anger, knowing that she would soo_orgive him.
  • When he asked the janitor of the house in which Count de Vaudrec lived: "Ho_s M. de Vaudrec? I have heard that he has been ailing of late," the ma_eplied; "The Count is very ill, sir; they think he will not live through th_ight; the gout has reached his heart."
  • Du Roy was so startled he did not know what to do! Vaudrec dying! H_tammered: "Thanks—I will call again"—unconscious of what he was saying. H_umped into a cab and drove home. His wife had returned. He entered her roo_ut of breath: "Did you know? Vaudrec is dying!"
  • She was reading a letter and turning to him asked: "What did you say?"
  • "I said that Vaudrec is dying of an attack of gout."
  • Then he added: "What shall you do?"
  • She rose; her face was livid; she burst into tears and buried her face in he_ands. She remained standing, shaken by sobs, torn by anguish. Suddenly sh_onquered her grief and wiping her eyes, said: "I am going to him—do not worr_bout me—I do not know what time I shall return—do not expect me."
  • He replied: "Very well. Go."
  • They shook hands and she left in such haste that she forgot her gloves.
  • Georges, after dining alone, began to write his article. He wrote it accordin_o the minister's instructions, hinting to the readers that the expedition t_orocco would not take place. He took it, when completed, to the office, conversed several moments with M. Walter, and set out again, smoking, with _ight heart, he knew not why.
  • His wife had not returned. He retired and fell asleep. Toward midnigh_adeleine came home. Georges sat up in bed and asked: "Well?"
  • He had never seen her so pale and agitated. She whispered: "He is dead!"
  • "Ah—and—he told you nothing?"
  • "Nothing. He was unconscious when I arrived."
  • Questions which he dared not ask arose to Georges' lips.
  • "Lie down and rest," said he.
  • She disrobed hastily and slipped into bed.
  • He continued: "Had he any relatives at his death-bed?"
  • "Only a nephew."
  • "Ah! Did he often see that nephew?"
  • "They had not met for ten years."
  • "Had he other relatives?"
  • "No, I believe not."
  • "Will that nephew be his heir?"
  • "I do not know."
  • "Was Vaudrec very rich?"
  • "Yes, very."
  • "Do you know what he was worth?"
  • "No, not exactly—one or two millions perhaps."
  • He said no more. She extinguished the light. He could not sleep. He looke_pon Mme. Walter's promised seventy thousand francs as very insignificant.
  • Suddenly he thought he heard Madeleine crying. In order to insure himself h_sked: "Are you asleep?"
  • "No." Her voice was tearful and unsteady.
  • He continued: "I forgot to tell you that your minister has deceived us."
  • "How?"
  • He gave her a detailed account of the combination prepared by Laroche an_alter. When he concluded she asked: "How did you know that?"
  • He replied: "Pardon me if I do not tell you! You have your means of obtainin_nformation into which I do not inquire; I have mine which I desire to keep. _an vouch at any rate for the truth of my statements."
  • She muttered: "It may be possible. I suspected that they were doing somethin_ithout our knowledge."
  • As she spoke Georges drew near her; she paid no heed to his proximity, however, and turning toward the wall, he closed his eyes and fell asleep.