MoboReader > Literature > The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume II (of 8)

   Chapter 3 No.3

The Works of Guy de Maupassant, Volume II (of 8) By Guy de Maupassant Characters: 5651

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


She was at the railway station first, which surprised him, but she said: "Before going, I want to speak to you. We have twenty minutes, and that is more than I shall take for what I have to say."

She trembled as she hung onto his arm, and she looked down, while her cheeks were pale, but she continued: "I do not want to be deceived in you, and I shall not go there with you, unless you promise, unless you swear ... not to do ... not to do anything ... that is at all improper ..."

She had suddenly become as red as a poppy, and said no more. He did not know what to reply, for he was happy and disappointed at the same time. At the bottom of his heart, he perhaps preferred that it should be so, and yet ... yet during the night he had indulged in anticipations that sent the hot blood flowing through his veins. He should love her less, certainly, if he knew that her conduct was light, but then it would be so charming, so delicious for him! And he made all a man's usual selfish calculations in love affairs.

As he did not say anything, she began to speak again in an agitated voice, and with tears in her eyes. "If you do not promise to respect me altogether, I shall return home." And so he squeezed her arm tenderly and replied: "I promise, you shall only do what you like." She appeared relieved in mind, and asked with a smile: "Do you really mean it?" And he looked into her eyes and replied: "I swear it." "Now you may take the tickets," she said.

During the journey they could hardly speak, as the carriage was full, and when they got to Maison-Laffitte they went towards the Seine. The sun, which shone full onto the river, onto the leaves and onto the turf seemed to be reflected in them in his brightness, and they went, hand in hand, along the bank, looking at the shoals of little fish swimming near the bank, and they went on brimming over with happiness, as if they were raised from the earth in their lightness of heart.

At last she said: "How foolish you must think me!"

"Why?" he asked. "To come out like this, all alone with you?" "Certainly not; it is quite natural." "No, no; it is not natural for me-because I do not wish to commit a fault, and yet this is how girls fall. But if you only knew how wretched it is, every day the same thing, every day in the month, and every month in the year. I live quite alone with Mamma, and as she has had a great deal of trouble, she is not very cheerful. I do the best I can, and try to laugh in spite of everything, but I do not always succeed. But all the same, it was wrong in me to come, though you, at any rate, will not be sorry."

By way of an answer he kissed her ardently on her ear that was nearest him, but she moved from him with an abrupt movement, and getting suddenly angry, she exclaimed: "Oh! Monsieur Fran?ois, after what

you swore to me!" And they went back to Maison-Laffitte.

They had lunch at the Petit-Havre, a low house, buried under four enormous poplar trees, by the side of the river. The air, the heat, the light wine, and the sensation of being so close together, made them red and silent, with a feeling of oppression, but after the coffee, they regained all their high spirits, and having crossed the Seine, they started off along the bank, towards the village of La Frette, and suddenly he asked: "What is your name?" "Louise." "Louise," he repeated, and said nothing more.

The river, which described a long curve, bathed a row of white houses in the distance, which were reflected in the water. The girl picked the daisies and made them into a great bunch, whilst he sang vigorously, as intoxicated as a colt that has been turned into a meadow. On their left, a vine-covered slope followed the river, but suddenly Fran?ois stopped motionless with astonishment: "Oh! look there!" he said.

The vines had come to an end, and the whole slope was covered with lilac bushes in flower. It was a violet colored wood! A kind of great carpet stretched over the earth, reaching as far as the village, more than two miles off. She also stood, surprised and delighted, and murmured: "Oh! how pretty!" And crossing a meadow they ran towards that curious low hill, which every year furnishes all the lilac which is drawn through Paris on the carts of the street sellers.

A narrow path went beneath the trees, so they took it, and when they came to a small clearing, they sat down.

Swarms of flies were buzzing around them and making a continuous, gentle sound, and the sun, the bright sun of a perfectly still day, shone over the bright slopes, and from that wood of flowers, a powerful aroma was borne towards them, a breath of perfume, of that sweat of the flowers.

A church clock struck in the distance, and they embraced gently, then clasped each other close, lying on the grass, without the knowledge of anything except of that kiss. She had closed her eyes and held him in her arms, pressing him to her closely, without a thought, with her reason bewildered, and from head to foot in passionate expectation. And she surrendered herself altogether, without knowing that she had given herself to him. But she soon came to herself with the feeling of a great misfortune, and she began to cry and sob with grief, with her face buried in her hands.

He tried to console her, but she wanted to start, to return, and to go home immediately, and she kept saying as she walked along quickly: "Good heavens! good heavens!" He said to her: "Louise! Louise! Please let us stop here." But now her cheeks were red and her eyes hollow, and as soon as they got to the railway station in Paris, she left him, without even saying good-bye.

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