Table of Contents

+ Add to Library

Previous Next

Chapter 9 MARRIAGE

  • Georges Duroy resumed his old habits. Installed in the cozy apartments on Ru_e Constantinople, his relations with Mme. de Marelle became quite conjugal.
  • Mme. Forestier had not returned; she lingered at Cannes. He, however, receive_ letter from her announcing her return about the middle of April, bu_ontaining not a word as to their parting. He waited. He was resolved t_mploy every means to marry her if she seemed to hesitate; he had faith in hi_ood fortune, in that power of attraction which he felt within him—a power s_rresistible that all women yielded to it.
  • At length a short note admonished him that the decisive moment had arrived.
  • > "I am in Paris. Come to see me."
  • > > "Madeleine Forestier."
  • Nothing more. He received it at nine o'clock. At three o'clock of the same da_e called at her house. She extended both hands to him with a sweet smile, an_hey gazed into each other's eyes for several seconds, then she murmured:
  • "How kind of you to come!"
  • He replied: "I should have come, whensoever you bade me."
  • They sat down; she inquired about the Walters, his associates, and th_ewspaper.
  • "I miss that very much," said she. "I had become a journalist in spirit. _ike the profession." She paused. He fancied he saw in her smile, in he_oice, in her words, a kind of invitation, and although he had resolved not t_asten matters, he stammered:
  • "Well—why—why do you not resume—that profession—under—the name of Duroy?"
  • She became suddenly serious, and placing her hand on his arm, she said: "D_ot let us speak of that yet."
  • Divining that she would accept him, he fell upon his knees, and passionatel_issed her hands, saying:
  • "Thank you—thank you—how I love you."
  • She rose, she was very pale. Duroy kissed her brow. When she had disengage_erself from his embrace, she said gravely: "Listen, my friend, I have not ye_ully decided; but my answer may be 'yes.' You must wait patiently, however, until I disclose the secret to you."
  • He promised and left her, his heart overflowing with joy. He worked steadily, spent little, tried to save some money that he might not be without a sou a_he time of his marriage, and became as miserly as he had once been prodigal.
  • Summer glided by; then autumn, and no one suspected the tie existing betwee_uroy and Mme. Forestier, for they seldom met in public.
  • One evening Madeleine said to him: "You have not yet told Mme. de Marelle ou_lans?"
  • "No, my dear; as you wished them kept secret, I have not mentioned them to _oul."
  • "Very well; there is plenty of time. I will tell the Walters."
  • She turned away her head and continued: "If you wish, we can be married th_eginning of May."
  • "I obey you in all things joyfully."
  • "The tenth of May, which falls on Saturday, would please me, for it is m_irthday."
  • "Very well, the tenth of May."
  • "Your parents live near Rouen, do they not?"
  • "Yes, near Rouen, at Canteleu."
  • "I am very anxious to see them!"
  • He hesitated, perplexed: "But—they are—" Then he added more firmly: "My dear, they are plain, country people, innkeepers, who strained every nerve to giv_e an education. I am not ashamed of them, but their—simplicity—thei_usticity might annoy you."
  • She smiled sweetly. "No, I will love them very much. We will visit them; _ish to. I, too, am the child of humble parents—but I lost mine—I have no on_n the world"—she held out her hand to him—"but you."
  • He was affected, conquered as he had never been by any woman.
  • "I have been thinking of something," said she, "but it is difficult t_xplain."
  • He asked: "What is it?"
  • "It is this: I am like all women. I have my—my weaknesses. I should like t_ear a noble name. Can you not on the occasion of our marriage change you_ame somewhat?" She blushed as if she had proposed something indelicate.
  • He replied simply: "I have often thought of it, but it does not seem easy t_e."
  • "Why not?"
  • He laughed. "Because I am afraid I should be ridiculed."
  • She shrugged her shoulders. "Not at all—not at all. Everyone does it, and n_ne laughs. Separate your name in this way: Du Roy. It sounds very well."
  • He replied: "No, that will not do; it is too common a proceeding. I hav_hought of assuming the name of my native place, first as a literary pseudony_nd then as my surname in conjunction with Duroy, which might later on, as yo_roposed, be separated."
  • She asked: "Is your native place Canteleu?"
  • "Yes."
  • "I do not like the termination. Could we not modify it?"
  • She took a pen and wrote down the names in order to study them. Suddenly sh_ried: "Now I have it," and held toward him a sheet of paper on which wa_ritten: "Mme. Duroy de Cantel."
  • Gravely he replied: "Yes, it is very nice."
  • She was delighted, and repeated: "Duroy de Cantel. Mme. Duroy de Cantel. It i_xcellent, excellent!"
  • Then she added with an air of conviction: "You will see how easily it will b_ccepted by everyone! After to-morrow, sign your articles 'D. de Cantel,' an_our 'Echoes' simply 'Duroy.' That is done on the press every day and no on_ill be surprised to see you take a nom de plume. What is your father's name?"
  • "Alexandre."
  • She murmured "Alexandre!" two or three times in succession; then she wrot_pon a blank sheet:
  • "M. and Mme. Alexandre du Roy de Cantel announce the marriage of their son, M.
  • Georges du Roy de Cantel with Mme. Forestier."
  • She examined her writing, and, charmed with the effect, exclaimed: "With _ittle method one can succeed in anything."
  • When Georges reached the street resolved to call himself, henceforth, "D_oy," or even "Du Roy de Cantel," it seemed to him that he was of mor_mportance. He swaggered more boldly, held his head more erect and walked a_e thought gentlemen should. He felt a desire to inform the passers-by, "M_ame is Du Roy de Cantel."
  • Scarcely had he entered his apartments when the thought of Mme. de Marell_endered him uneasy, and he wrote to her immediately, appointing a meeting fo_he following day.
  • "It will be hard," thought he. "There will be a quarrel surely."
  • The next morning he received a telegram from Madame, informing him that sh_ould be with him at one o'clock. He awaited her impatiently, determined t_onfess at once and afterward to argue with her, to tell her that he could no_emain a bachelor indefinitely, and that, as M. de Marelle persisted i_iving, he had been compelled to choose some one else as a legal companion.
  • When the bell rang, his heart gave a bound.
  • Mme. de Marelle entered and cast herself into his arms, saying: "Goo_fternoon, Bel-Ami." Perceiving that his embrace was colder than usual, sh_lanced up at him and asked: "What ails you?"
  • "Take a seat," said he. "We must talk seriously."
  • She seated herself without removing her hat, and waited. He cast down hi_yes; he was preparing to commence.
  • Finally he said slowly: "My dear friend, you see that I am very muc_erplexed, very sad, and very much embarrassed by what I have to confess t_ou. I love you; I love you with all my heart, and the fear of giving you pai_rieves me more than what I have to tell you."
  • She turned pale, trembled, and asked: "What is it? Tell me quickly."
  • He said sadly but resolutely: "I am going to be married."
  • She sighed like one about to lose consciousness; then she gasped, but did no_peak.
  • He continued: "You cannot imagine how much I suffered before taking tha_esolution. But I have neither position nor money. I am alone in Paris, I mus_ave near me some one who can counsel, comfort, and support me. What I need i_n associate, an ally, and I have found one!" He paused, hoping that she woul_eply, expecting an outburst of furious rage, reproaches, and insults. Sh_ressed her hand to her heart and breathed with difficulty. He took the han_esting on the arm of the chair, but she drew it away and murmured as i_tupefied: "Oh, my God!"
  • He fell upon his knees before her, without, however, venturing to touch her, more moved by her silence than he would have been by her anger.
  • "Clo, my little Clo, you understand my position. Oh, if I could have marrie_ou, what happiness it would have afforded me! But you were married! Wha_ould I do? Just think of it! I must make my way in the world and I can neve_o so as long as I have no domestic ties. If you knew. There are days when _hould like to kill your husband." He spoke in a low, seductive voice. He sa_wo tears gather in Mme. de Marelle's eyes and trickle slowly down her cheeks.
  • He whispered: "Do not weep, Clo, do not weep, I beseech you. You break m_eart."
  • She made an effort to appear dignified and haughty, and asked, though somewha_nsteadily: "Who is it?"
  • For a moment he hesitated before he replied: "Madeleine Forestier!"
  • Mme. de Marelle started; her tears continued to flow. She rose. Duroy saw tha_he was going to leave him without a word of reproach or pardon, and he fel_umbled, humiliated. He seized her gown and implored:
  • "Do not leave me thus."
  • She looked at him with that despairing, tearful glance so charming and s_ouching, which expresses all the misery pent-up in a woman's heart, an_tammered: "I have nothing—to say; I can do nothing. You—you are right; yo_ave made a good choice."
  • And disengaging herself she left the room.
  • With a sigh of relief at escaping so easily, he repaired to Mme. Forestier's, who asked him: "Have you told Mme. de Marelle?"
  • He replied calmly: "Yes."
  • "Did it affect her?"
  • "Not at all. On the contrary, she thought it an excellent plan."
  • The news was soon noised abroad. Some were surprised, others pretended to hav_oreseen it, and others again smiled, inferring that they were not at al_stonished. The young man, who signed his articles, "D. de Cantel," his
  • "Echoes," "Duroy," and his political sketches, "Du Roy," spent the best par_f his time with his betrothed, who had decided that the date fixed for th_edding should be kept secret, that the ceremony should be celebrated in th_resence of witnesses only, that they should leave the same evening for Rouen, and that the day following they should visit the journalist's aged parents an_pend several days with them. Duroy had tried to persuade Madeleine to abando_hat project, but not succeeding in his efforts he was finally compelled t_ubmit.
  • The tenth of May arrived. Thinking a religious ceremony unnecessary, as the_ad issued no invitations, the couple were married at a magistrate's and too_he six o'clock train for Normandy.
  • As the train glided along, Duroy seated in front of his wife, took her hand, kissed it, and said: "When we return we will dine at Chatou sometimes."
  • She murmured: "We shall have a great many things to do!" in a tone whic_eemed to say: "We must sacrifice pleasure to duty."
  • He retained her hand wondering anxiously how he could manage to caress her. H_ressed her hand slightly, but she did not respond to the pressure.
  • He said: "It seems strange that you should be my wife."
  • She appeared surprised: "Why?"
  • "I do not know. It seems droll. I want to embrace you and I am surprised tha_ have the right."
  • She calmly offered him her cheek which he kissed as he would have kissed hi_ister's. He continued:
  • "The first time I saw you (you remember, at that dinner to which I was invite_t Forestier's), I thought: 'Sacristi, if I could only find a wife like that!'
  • And now I have one."
  • She glanced at him with smiling eyes.
  • He said to himself: "I am too cold. I am stupid. I should make more advances."
  • And he asked: "How did you make Forestier's acquaintance?"
  • She replied with provoking archness: "Are we going to Rouen to talk of him?"
  • He colored. "I am a fool. You intimidate me."
  • She was delighted. "I? Impossible."
  • He seated himself beside her. She exclaimed: "Ah! a stag!" The train wa_assing through the forest of Saint-Germain and she had seen a frightened dee_lear an alley at a bound. As she gazed out of the open window, Duroy bendin_ver her, pressed a kiss upon her neck. For several moments she remaine_otionless, then raising her head, she said: "You tickle me, stop!"
  • But he did not obey her.
  • She repeated: "Stop, I say!"
  • He seized her head with his right hand, turned it toward him and pressed hi_ips to hers. She struggled, pushed him away and repeated: "Stop!"
  • He did not heed her. With an effort, she freed herself and rising, said:
  • "Georges, have done. We are not children, we shall soon reach Rouen."
  • "Very well," said he, gaily, "I will wait."
  • Reseating herself near him she talked of what they would do on their return; they would keep the apartments in which she had lived with her first husband, and Duroy would receive Forestier's position on "La Vie Francaise." In th_eantime, forgetting her injunctions and his promise, he slipped his ar_round her waist, pressed her to him and murmured: "I love you dearly, m_ittle Made."
  • The gentleness of his tone moved the young woman, and leaning toward him sh_ffered him her lips; as she did so, a whistle announced the proximity of th_tation. Pushing back some stray locks upon her temples, she exclaimed:
  • "We are foolish."
  • He kissed her hands feverishly and replied:
  • "I adore you, my little Made."
  • On reaching Rouen they repaired to a hotel where they spent the night. Th_ollowing morning, when they had drunk the tea placed upon the table in thei_oom, Duroy clasped his wife in his arms and said: "My little Made, I fee_hat I love you very, very much."
  • She smiled trustfully and murmured as she returned his kisses: "I love yo_oo—a little."
  • The visit to his parents worried Georges, although he had prepared his wife.
  • He began again: "You know they are peasants, real, not sham, comic-oper_easants."
  • She smiled. "I know it, you have told me often enough."
  • "We shall be very uncomfortable. There is only a straw bed in my room; they d_ot know what hair mattresses are at Canteleu."
  • She seemed delighted. "So much the better. It would be charming to slee_adly—when—near you—and to be awakened by the crowing of the cocks."
  • He walked toward the window and lighted a cigarette. The sight of the harbor, of the river filled with ships moved him and he exclaimed: "Egad, but that i_ine!"
  • Madeleine joined him and placing both of her hands on her husband's shoulder, cried: "Oh, how beautiful! I did not know that there were so many ships!"
  • An hour later they departed in order to breakfast with the old couple, who ha_een informed several days before of their intended arrival. Both Duroy an_is wife were charmed with the beauties of the landscape presented to thei_iew, and the cabman halted in order to allow them to get a better idea of th_anorama before them. As he whipped up his horse, Duroy saw an old couple no_ hundred meters off, approaching, and he leaped from the carriage crying:
  • "Here they are, I know them."
  • The man was short, corpulent, florid, and vigorous, notwithstanding his age; the woman was tall, thin, and melancholy, with stooping shoulders—a woman wh_ad worked from childhood, who had never laughed nor jested.
  • Madeleine, too, alighted and watched the couple advance, with a contraction o_er heart she had not anticipated. They did not recognize their son in tha_ine gentleman, and they would never have taken that handsome lady for thei_aughter-in-law. They walked along, passed the child they were expecting, without glancing at the "city folks."
  • Georges cried with a laugh: "Good day, Father Duroy."
  • Both the old man and his wife were struck dumb with astonishment; the latte_ecovered her self-possession first and asked: "Is it you, son?"
  • The young man replied: "Yes, it is I, Mother Duroy," and approaching her, h_issed her upon both cheeks and said: "This is my wife."
  • The two rustics stared at Madeleine as if she were a curiosity, with anxiou_ear, combined with a sort of satisfied approbation on the part of the fathe_nd of jealous enmity on that of the mother.
  • M. Duroy, senior, who was naturally jocose, made so bold as to ask with _winkle in his eye: "May I kiss you too?" His son uttered an exclamation an_adeleine offered her cheek to the old peasant; who afterward wiped his lip_ith the back of his hand. The old woman, in her turn, kissed her daughter-in- law with hostile reserve. Her ideal was a stout, rosy, country lass, as red a_n apple and as round.
  • The carriage preceded them with the luggage. The old man took his son's ar_nd asked him: "How are you getting on?"
  • "Very well."
  • "That is right. Tell me, has your wife any means?"
  • Georges replied: "Forty thousand francs."
  • His father whistled softly and muttered: "Whew!" Then he added: "She is _andsome woman." He admired his son's wife, and in his day had considere_imself a connoisseur.
  • Madeleine and the mother walked side by side in silence; the two men joine_hem. They soon reached the village, at the entrance to which stood M. Duroy'_avern. A pine board fastened over the door indicated that thirsty peopl_ight enter. The table was laid. A neighbor, who had come to assist, made _ow courtesy on seeing so beautiful a lady appear; then recognizing Georges, she cried: "Oh Lord, is it you?"
  • He replied merrily: "Yes, it is I, Mother Brulin," and he kissed her as he ha_issed his father and mother. Then he turned to his wife:
  • "Come into our room," said he, "you can lay aside your hat."
  • They passed through a door to the right and entered a room paved with brick, with whitewashed walls and a bed with cotton hangings.
  • A crucifix above a holy-water basin and two colored prints, representing Pau_nd Virginia beneath a blue palm-tree, and Napoleon I. on a yellow horse, wer_he only ornaments in that neat, but bare room.
  • When they were alone, Georges embraced Madeleine.
  • "Good morning, Made! I am glad to see the old people once more. When one is i_aris one does not think of this place, but when one returns, one enjoys i_ust the same."
  • At that moment his father cried, knocking on the partition with his fist:
  • "Come, the soup is ready."
  • They re-entered the large public-room and took their seats at the table. Th_eal was a long one, served in a truly rustic fashion. Father Duroy, enlivene_y the cider and several glasses of wine, related many anecdotes, whil_eorges, to whom they were all familiar, laughed at them.
  • Mother Duroy did not speak, but sat at the board, grim and austere, glancin_t her daughter-in-law with hatred in her heart.
  • Madeleine did not speak nor did she eat; she was depressed. Wherefore? She ha_ished to come; she knew that she was coming to a simple home; she had forme_o poetical ideas of those peasants, but she had perhaps expected to find the_omewhat more polished, refined. She recalled her own mother, of whom sh_ever spoke to anyone—a governess who had been betrayed and who had died o_rief and shame when Madeleine was twelve years old. A stranger had had th_ittle girl educated. Her father without doubt. Who was he? She did not kno_ositively, but she had vague suspicions.
  • The meal was not yet over when customers entered, shook hands with M. Duroy, exclaimed on seeing his son, and seating themselves at the wooden tables bega_o drink, smoke, and play dominoes. The smoke from the clay pipes and penn_igars filled the room.
  • Madeleine choked and asked: "Can we go out? I cannot remain here any longer."
  • Old Duroy grumbled at being disturbed. Madeleine rose and placed her chair a_he door in order to wait until her father-in-law and his wife had finishe_heir coffee and wine.
  • Georges soon joined her.
  • "Would you like to stroll down to the Seine?"
  • Joyfully she cried: "Yes."
  • They descended the hillside, hired a boat at Croisset, and spent the remainde_f the afternoon beneath the willows in the soft, warm, spring air, and rocke_ently by the rippling waves of the river. They returned at nightfall. Th_vening repast by candle-light was more painful to Madeleine than that of th_orning. Neither Father Duroy nor his wife spoke. When the meal was over, Madeleine drew her husband outside in order not to have to remain in tha_oom, the atmosphere of which was heavy with smoke and the fumes of liquor.
  • When they were alone, he said: "You are already weary."
  • She attempted to protest; he interrupted her:
  • "I have seen it. If you wish we will leave tomorrow."
  • She whispered: "I should like to go."
  • They walked along and entered a narrow path among high trees, hedged in o_ither side by impenetrable brushwood.
  • She asked: "Where are we?"
  • He replied: "In the forest—one of the largest in France."
  • Madeleine, on raising her head, could see the stars between the branches an_ear the rustling of the leaves. She felt strangely nervous. Why, she coul_ot tell. She seemed to be lost, surrounded by perils, abandoned, alone, beneath that vast vaulted sky.
  • She murmured: "I am afraid; I should like to return."
  • "Very well, we will."
  • On their return they found the old people in bed. The next morning Madelein_ose early and was ready to leave at daybreak. When Georges told his parent_hat they were going to return home, they guessed whose wish it was.
  • His father asked simply: "Shall I see you soon again?"
  • "Yes—in the summer-time."
  • "Very well."
  • His mother grumbled: "I hope you will not regret what you have done."
  • Georges gave them two hundred francs to appease them, and the cab arriving a_en o'clock, the couple kissed the old peasants and set out.
  • As they were descending the side of the hill, Duroy laughed. "You see," sai_e, "I warned you. I should, however, not have presented you to M. and Mme. d_oy de Cantel, senior."
  • She laughed too and replied: "I am charmed now! They are nice people whom I a_eginning to like very much. I shall send them confections from Paris." The_he murmured: "Du Roy de Cantel. We will say that we spent a week at you_arents' estate," and drawing near him, she kissed him saying:
  • "Good morning, Georges."
  • He replied: "Good morning, Madeleine," as he slipped his arm around her waist.