Mme. de Marelle had invited him to call, saying: "I am always at home about three o'clock." So one afternoon, when he had nothing to do, he proceeded toward her house. She lived on Rue Verneuil, on the fourth floor. A maid answered his summons, and said: "Yes, Madame is at home, but I do not know whether she has risen."

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.

After alighting, she said to her coachman: "Take M. du Roy home." When he returned, his wife asked: "Where have you been?" He replied in a low voice: "I have been to send an important telegram." Mme. de Marelle approached him: "You must take me home, Bel-Ami; you know that I only dine so far from home on that condition." Turning to Madeleine, she asked: "You are not jealous?"

Then, too, she persisted in devising ruses for summoning him to Rue de Constantinople, and he was in constant fear that the two women would some day meet face to face at the door. On the other hand, his affection for Mme. de Marelle had increased during the summer.

Then the door opened, and a tall man with a white beard, grave and precise, advanced toward him and said courteously: "My wife has often spoken of you, sir; I am charmed to make your acquaintance." Duroy tried to appear cordial and shook his host's proffered hand with exaggerated energy. M. de Marelle put a log upon the fire and asked: "Have you been engaged in journalism a long time?"

The thirsty crowd stopped him; when he had made his way through it, he found himself face to face with M. and Mme. de Marelle. He had often met the wife, but he had not met the husband for some time; the latter grasped both of his hands and thanked him for the message he had sent him by Clotilde relative to the stocks.

He had not the courage to do so. She continued: "If you only knew how comical, original, and intelligent she is! She is a true Bohemian. It is for that reason that her husband no longer loves her. He only sees her defects and none of her good qualities." Duroy was surprised to hear that Mme. de Marelle was married. "What," he asked, "is she married? What does her husband do?" Mme.

When the waiter handed the wine-list to Forestier, Mme. de Marelle exclaimed: "Bring the gentle-men whatever they want; as for us, we want nothing but champagne." Forestier, who seemed not to have heard her, asked: "Do you object to my closing the window? My cough has troubled me for several days." "Not at all." His wife did not speak.

He shook hands, uttered words which signified nothing, and replied to congratulations with the words: "You are very kind." Suddenly he saw Mme. de Marelle, and the recollection of all the kisses he had given her and which she had returned, of all their caresses, of the sound of her voice, possessed him with the mad desire to regain her. She was so pretty, with her bright eyes and roguish air!

Duroy, who was amused at the child's ceremonious manner, replied: "Indeed, Mademoiselle, I shall be enchanted to spend a quarter of an hour with you." When the mother entered they were in the midst of an exciting game, and Mme. de Marelle paused in amazement, crying: "Laurine playing? You are a sorcerer, sir!"