Chapter 6: Jealousy
Upon returning home one evening, Georges found Madeleine with a bouquet of flowers, roses similar to the ones who he had procured(1) for her.
“It is my old friend, Count de Vaudrec, who dines here every Monday,” she spoke when he stood, motionless.
“Very well,” he murmured, resigned(2). He wished to throw away the roses.
When the Count entered, he walked in as though he was the master of the house. He gallantly kissed Mme. Du Roy’s hand and cordially(3) offered his hand to her husband, saying: “How are you, my dear Du Roy?” Yet he was no longer haughty(4), but friendly and amiable(5).
The dinner was splendiferous(6) and the Count remained very late. “He is a very good friend, is he not?” Madeleine asked her husband once the Count had left.
“We have work tonight. I did not have time to tell you, but Laroche-Mathieu brought me salient(7) news of Morocco – what a fine article we shall make of it.”
They entered the study and the article appeared the following morning with great acclaim(8). Deputies, senators, and stockholders started to dine at the Rue Fontaine, yet all still associated the house with the name Forestier.
Du Roy grew to hate this name-it was a defamation to him. He was infatuated(9) with sweets, but Madeleine never ordered any for “Charles disliked them.”
“Since Charles is dead,” he breathed heavily. “Let him rest in peace.”
Flattered by her husband’s jealousy, Madeleine remained silent.
From that time onwards, Georges only referred to her recently deceased husband as “poor Charles,” with an accent of pity. On sultry(10) summer evenings, the two of them took open carriages to the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, though when he leaned forward to kiss her, she sneered.
“You’re acting childishly,” she said. Bored by his silence, she continued: “Shall we go to Tortoni’s for ices before returning home?”
She is pretty, that much is true. “Certainly, my darling.”
On entering the office of La Vie Francaise, Du Roy sought out Boisrenard to apprise(11) him that if he was ever called Forestier once again, there would be blood. When he returned home, however, Du Roy lacked jurisdiction(12).
“Mme. Walter and Mme. de Marelle have arrived,” the servant notified him upon his entrance.
His heart beat boisterously(13) as he opened the door. Clotilde, seated by the fireplace, turned pale. He greeted her and her two daughters casually yet lovingly. “Have you been doing well?” He asked, sitting by his wife.
“Yes; have you, Bel-Ami?” Turning to Madeleine, she added: “Will you permit me to call him Bel-Ami.”
“There is a fencing-match soon, but we have no entourage(14).”
Du Roy offered his services at once. Glancing at Suzanne, the little doll, he thought her quite alluring(15). When the two left, Mme. Walter kissed his hand.
Left alone with his life, she laughed. “Mme. Walter has taken to you!”
“Oh, that is true – she is irreproachable(17). While her husband is a Jew, she is true to him.”
“She likes me?”
“If you were not married, though, I would advise you to ask for the hand of Suzanne.”
From then on, Georges determined to treat Mme. Walter very considerately to retain(18) her goodwill. Yet, he was also haunted by his love for Clotilde.
Georges visited his former mistress the following day, only to come across Laurine in the foyer, practicing her scales. She rose and greeted him formally, then left the room, enraged. Her mother came out a few minutes later, staring at Georges with incredulity(19).
They seated and stared into each other’s eyes. “My dear little Clo, I love–”
“But, you do not miss me?”
“I knew you would return one day.”
“Where can we meet again?”
“At our apartment.”
“How is your husband?”
“He left two days ago.”
She replied naively. “Yes, it happens so. Shall we meet tomorrow at two?”
On Thursday, Madeleine decided that she would rather go to the Chamber of Deputies rather than the fencing-match. Thus, Georges attended Mme. Walter and her daughters in a carriage, surprised at how adolescent(20) they looked. The entertainment had been arranged for the orphans of the Sixth Ward, and all of the wives of the senators and deputies connected with La Vie Francaise were in attendance.
Rival greeted them at the door. “Downstairs, ladies, downstairs, the match will be taking place shortly.”
Descending the stairs, they entered a large room lighted by Venetian lanterns and filled with benches of ladies and their daughters. Mme. Walter and her daughters sat in the very front row, and Du Roy, taking his leave, whispered in her ear: “I shall be obliged to leave you now.”
Mme. Walter hesitated: “Yet I enjoy your company. Stand here, behind me; you will not disturb a soul. Bel-Ami!”
“Of course, Madame.”
The fencing match soon began and finished. A measly 220 francs remained for the orphans after the expenses for the hall and entertainment had been paid. On the carriage returning to Mme. Marelle’s apartments, Du Roy thought her to have fallen in love with him.
Madeleine awaited him with news of Morocco. “The affair is growing complicated – the ministry might be overthrown. France, with Laroche, is to send out an assembly soon.”
Du Roy pretended not to believe it. “How silly is France!”
“It is not just a question of money.” She turned her back on him, scornfully. “We shall have company Tuesday – Mme. Laroche-Mathieu. Will you invite Rival and Norbert de Varenne? Perhaps also Mme. Walter.”
An invitation was the opportune time to test if Mme. Walter was truly in love with him. Ushered into her rooms at two o’clock, she offered her hand to him. “What good wind blows you here?”
“Simply a desire to see you,” he said, smiling, yet serious.
She blushed, stammering. “You-you surprise me. Are you serious, then?”
“You are so serious that I dared not express my opinions.”
She stood, suddenly. “Enough of this childish behavior–”
But he had already fallen upon his knees. He wrapped his arms around her waist, repeating passionately: “I am mad, and I love you.”
She escaped him and ran out of the room. Taking his cane, and leaving the house, he proclaimed calmly: “She loves me.”
The following day, Madeleine announced that Mme. Walter was coming, though her husband would not be accompanying her. Despite himself, Du Roy awaited her anxiously. She arrived composed and almost haughty, along with Mmes. Laroche-Mathieu and Rissolin with their husbands. Mme. de Marelle was dressed in an odd yet bewitching combination of yellow and black.
During the dinner, Du Roy sat to the right of Mme. Walter and spoke to her only of serious matters, glancing every now and then at Clotilde. While she is pretty, Mme. Walter is a much more difficult conquest.
When Mme. Walter took her leave, he escorted her home despite her protests. “You would not wish to break my heart, would you?”
As soon as the carriage doors had closed, he seized her hand and kissed it passionately. “I love you,” he repeated.
She suffered before his gaze. “Think of my servants, my daughters, my husband!”
“I cannot live without seeing you.”
“I must see you! I will come to you today, I will come to you tomorrow, every day until you see me, I shall wait by your door like a beggar.”
“I shall not receive you.”
“Then, I shall meet you in the streets. I will say I love you and then retreat.”
When the carriage stopped, she whispered hastily: “I will be at La Trinite tomorrow, at half past three.”
When Du Roy returned to his apartments, he escorted Clotilde home as well. When they were alone, she said: “Oh, my darling Bel-Ami, how I love you!”
But Georges was only thinking of Mme. Walter.
1/procure(v)-obtain (something), especially with care or effort
2/resign(v)-accept that something undesirable cannot be avoided
3/cordially(adv)-in a warm and friendly way
4/haughty(adj)-arrogantly superior and disdainful.
5/amiable(adj)-friendly, in a kind manner
7/salient(adj)-most noticeable or important
8/acclaim(v)-praise enthusiastically and publicly
9/infatuate(v)-be inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for
10/sultry(adj)-(of the air or weather) hot and humid.
11/apprise(v)-inform or tell (someone).
12/jurisdiction(n)-the official power to make legal decisions and judgments.
13/boisterously(adv)-rough and noisy; noisily jolly or rowdy; clamorous; unrestrained
14/entourage(n)-a group of people attending or surrounding an important person.
15/alluring(adj)-powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating; seductive.
16/blasphemous(adj)-sacrilegious against God or sacred things; profane.
17/irreproachable(adj)-beyond criticism; faultless.
18/retain(v)-continue to have (something); keep possession of.
19/incredulity(n)-the state of being unwilling or unable to believe something
20/adolescent(adj)-(of a young person) in the process of developing from a child into an adult.