MoboReader > Literature > Monsieur, Madame, and Bebe -- C

   Chapter 20 THE HOT-WATER BOTTLE

Monsieur, Madame, and Bebe -- C By Gustave Droz Characters: 7927

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


When midnight strikes, when the embers die away into ashes, when the lamp burns more feebly and your eyes close in spite of yourself, the best thing to do, dear Madame, is to go to bed.

Get up from your armchair, take off your bracelets, light your rosecolored taper, and proceed slowly, to the soft accompaniment of your trailing skirt, rustling across the carpet, to your dressing-room, that perfumed sanctuary in which your beauty, knowing itself to be alone, raises its veils, indulges in self-examination, revels in itself and reckons up its treasures as a miser does his wealth.

Before the muslin-framed mirror, which reveals all that it sees so well, you pause carelessly and with a smile give one long satisfied look, then with two fingers you withdraw the pin that kept up your hair, and its long, fair tresses unroll and fall in waves, veiling your bare shoulders. With a coquettish hand, the little finger of which is turned up, you caress, as you gather them together, the golden flood of your abundant locks, while with the other you pass through them the tortoiseshell comb that buries itself in the depths of this fair forest and bends with the effort.

Your tresses are so abundant that your little hand can scarcely grasp them. They are so long that your outstretched arm scarcely reaches their extremity. Hence it is not without difficulty that you manage to twist them up and imprison them in your embroidered night-cap.

This first duty accomplished, you turn the silver tap, and the pure and limpid water pours into a large bowl of enamelled porcelain. You throw in a few drops of that fluid which perfumes and softens the skin, and like a nymph in the depths of a quiet wood preparing for the toilet, you remove the drapery that might encumber you.

But what, Madame, you frown? Have I said too much or not enough? Is it not well known that you love cold water; and do you think it is not guessed that at the contact of the dripping sponge you quiver from head to foot?

But what matters it, your toilette for the night is completed, you are fresh, restored, and white as a nun in your embroidered dressing-gown, you dart your bare feet into satin slippers and reenter your bedroom, shivering slightly. To see you walking thus with hurried steps, wrapped tightly in your dressing-gown, and with your pretty head hidden in its nightcap, you might be taken for a little girl leaving the confessional after confessing some terrible sin.

Gaining the bedside, Madame lays aside her slippers, and lightly and without effort, bounds into the depths of the alcove.

However, Monsieur, who was already asleep with his nose on the Moniteur, suddenly wakes up at the movement imparted to the bed.

"I thought that you were in bed already, dear," he murmurs, falling off to sleep again. "Good-night."

"If I had been in bed you would have noticed it." Madame stretches out her feet and moves them about; she seems to be in quest of something. "I am not in such a hurry to go to sleep as you are, thank goodness."

Monsieur, suddenly and evidently annoyed, says: "But what is the matter, my dear? You fidget and fidget-I want to sleep." He turns over as he speaks.

"I fidget! I am simply feeling for my hot-water bottle; you are irritating."

"Your hot-water bottle?" is Monsieur's reply, with a grunt.

"Certainly, my hot-water bottle, my feet are frozen." She goes on feeling for it. "You are really very amiable this evening; you began by dozing over the 'Revue des Deux Mondes', and I find you snoring over the 'Moniteur'. In your place I should vary my literature. I am sure you have taken my hot-water bottle."

"I have been doing wrong. I will subscribe to the 'Tintamarre' in future. Come, good-night, my dear." He turns over. "Hello, your hot-water bottle is right at the bottom of the bed; I can feel it with the tips of my toes."

"Well, push it up; do you think that I can dive down there after it?"

"Sha

ll I ring for your maid to help you?" He makes a movement of ill-temper, pulls the clothes up to his chin, and buries his head in the pillow. "Goodnight, my dear."

Madame, somewhat vexed, says: "Good-night, goodnight."

The respiration of Monsieur grows smooth, and even his brows relax, his forehead becomes calm, he is on the point of losing all consciousness of the realities of this life.

Madame taps lightly on her husband's shoulder.

"Hum," growls Monsieur.

Madame taps again.

"Well, what is it?"

Madame, in an angelic tone of voice, "My dear, would you put out the candle?"

Monsieur, without opening his eyes, "The hot-water bottle, the candle, the candle, the hot-water bottle."

"Good heavens! how irritable you are, Oscar. I will put it out myself. Don't trouble yourself. You really have a very bad temper, my dear; you are angry, and if you were goaded a little, you would, in five minutes, be capable of anything."

Monsieur, his voice smothered in the pillow, "No, not at all; I am sleepy, dear, that is all. Good-night, my dear."

Madame, briskly, "You forget that in domestic life good feeling has for its basis reciprocal consideration."

"I was wrong-come, good-night." He raises himself up a little. "Would you like me to kiss you?"

"I don't want you to, but I permit." She puts her face toward that of her husband, who kisses her on the forehead. "You are really too good, you have kissed my nightcap."

Monsieur, smiling, "Your hair smells very nice... You see I am so sleepy. Ah! you have it in little plaits, you are going to wave it to-morrow."

"To wave it. You were the first to find that that way of dressing it became me, besides, it is the fashion, and tomorrow is my reception day. Come, you irritable man, embrace me once for all and snore at your ease, you are dying to do so."

She holds her neck toward her husband.

Monsieur, laughing, "In the first place, I never snore. I never joke." He kisses his wife's neck, and rests his head on her shoulder.

"Well, what are you doing there?" is her remark.

"I am digesting my kiss."

Madame affects the lackadaisical, and looks sidewise at her husband with an eye half disarmed. Monsieur sniffs the loved perfume with open nostrils.

After a period of silence he whispers in his wife's ear, "I am not at all sleepy now, dear. Are your feet still cold? I will find the hot-water bottle."

"Oh, thanks, put out the light and let us go to sleep; I am quite tired out."

She turns round by resting her arm on his face.

"No, no, I won't have you go to sleep with your feet chilled; there is nothing worse. There, there is the hot-water bottle, warm your poor little feet... there... like that."

"Thanks, I am very comfortable. Good-night, dear, let us go to sleep."

"Good-night, my dear."

After a long silence Monsieur turns first on one side and then on the other, and ends by tapping lightly on his wife's shoulder.

Madame, startled, "What is the matter? Good heavens! how you startled me!"

Monsieur, smiling, "Would you be kind enough to put out the candle?"

"What! is it for that you wake me up in the middle of my sleep? I shall not be able to doze again. You are unbearable."

"You find me unbearable?" He comes quite close to his wife; "Come, let me explain my idea to you."

Madame turns round-her eye meets the eye... full of softness.. of her husband. "Dear me," she says, "you are a perfect tiger."

Then, putting her mouth to his ear, she murmurs with a smile, "Come, explain your idea, for the sake of peace and quiet."

Madame, after a very long silence, and half asleep, "Oscar!"

Monsieur, his eyes closed, in a faint voice, "My dear."

"How about the candle? it is still alight."

"Ah! the candle. I will put it out. If you were very nice you would give me a share of your hot-water bottle; one of my feet is frozen. Good-night."

"Good-night."

They clasp hands and fall asleep.

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