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Bel - Ami

By Guy de Maupassant

Georges Duroy, a former soldier, had only three francs in his pocket when he met his former brother officer, Charles Forestier, in Paris one evening. Forestier, an editor of the daily newspaper, La Vie Francaise, unhesitatingly lent Duroy money to buy suitable clothes and invited him to come to dinner the following evening to meet the owner of the paper. The Forestiers' party was a success for Duroy. M. Walter hired him as a reporter to write a series of articles on his experiences in Algeria. (来源:专业英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

It was not easy for Duroy to adapt himself to his new job. His first article was due the day following the dinner party. Unable to write it in proper form, he was forced to hurry to the Forestier home early in the morning to seek stylistic advice. Forestier, just leaving, referred Duroy to Mme. Forestier for help. Together they turned out a successful piece. With her help Duroy slowly built a reputation as a clever reporter, but his salary remained small.

Two months after the Forestiers' dinner party Duroy called on Mme. de Marelle, who had been among the guests that evening. Duroy's friendship with Mme. de Marelle quickly developed into an affair. De Marelle was often away from home, so that his wife had ample time to see her lover, at his lodgings at first and then at an apartment which she rented for their rendezvous. Duroy objected mildly to having Mme. de Marelle bear this expense, but it was not long before he found himself regularly accepting small sums of money from her. It was Mme. de Marelle's daughter Laurine who first called him " Bel-Ami ," a nickname gradually adopted by most of his friends.

M.Forestier suffered from a bronchial ailment. As his health grew worse, his disposition became unbearable at the office. Duroy determined to avenge himself by attempting to seduce Mme. Forestier. She gently rebuffed him, but agreed that they could be friends. Duroy was brash enough to propose that she become his wife if she were ever widowed.

At Mme. Forestier's suggestion Duroy began to cultivate Mme. Walter. The week following his first visit to her he was appointed editor of the "Echoes," an important column. He had barely assumed this position when the editor of a rival newspaper, a Plume, accused him falsely of receiving bribes and suppressing news. For the honor of La Vie Francaise Duroy was forced to challenge his disparager to a duel. Though neither he nor his opponent was injured, M. Walter was pleased with Duroy's spirit.

Duroy moved into the apartment Mme. de Marelle had rented for their meetings after he had promised that he would never bring anyone else there. Shortly afterward Forestier became seriously ill, and Duroy received a telegram asking him to join the Forestiers in Cannes, where they had gone for the invalid's health. After Forestier's death, as he and Mme. Forestier kept a vigil over the corpse, Duroy proposed once more. The widow made no promises but stated the next day that she might consider an alliance, though she warned her swain that she would have to be treated as an equal and her conduct left unquestioned.

Mme. Forestier returned to Paris. A year later she and Duroy were married. Georges du Roy de Cantel, as he now called himself at his wife's suggestion, and his bride had agreed to spend their honeymoon with his parents in Normandy. However, Mme. de Cantel spent only one day with his simple, ignorant peasant family in their tiny home.

The newspaper man found in his wife a valuable ally who not only aided him in writing his articles but also, as the friend of influential men, helped him to find a place in political circles. Unfortunately, friction soon developed between them. After he had moved into his wife's home, de Cantel found that its comforts had been designed to please its old master, and he soon found himself pushed gently into the niche his friend had occupied. Even the meals were prepared according to Forestier's taste. To pique his wife de Cantel began to call Forestier "poor Charles," always using an accent of infinite pity when he spoke the name.

Not long after his marriage de Cantel resumed his relationship with Mme. de Marelle and at the same time began an affair with Mme. Walter. He had briefly bemoaned the fact that he had not married wealthy young Suzanne Walter, but he soon became intrigued with the idea of seducing her mother, a pillar of dignity. His conquest was not a difficult one. Mme. Walter began to meet her lover at his rooms and to shower affection and attentions upon him so heavily that he quickly became bored.

Among Mme. de Cantel's political acquaintances was the foreign minister, Laroche-Mathieu, who supplied news of government activities to La Vie Francaise. Because the minister was also a close friend of M. Walter, it was not difficult for de Cantel's new paramour to learn the state secret that France would soon guarantee the Moroccan debt. Mme. Walter planned to buy some shares of the loan with the understanding that de Cantel would receive part of the profit. While Mme. Walter was carrying on her speculations, the de Cantels received a windfall in the form of a bequest from the late Count de Vaudrec, an old family friend of Mme. de Cantel. De Cantel objected to the Count's bequest of one million francs, however, on the grounds that appearances would compromise her. He allowed her to accept the money only after she had agreed to divide it equally with him, so that it would seem to outsiders as if they had both received a share.

De Cantel profited handsomely when France assumed the Moroccan debt, but his gains were small compared to those of Laroche-Mathieu and M. Walter, who had become millionaires as a result of the intrigue. One evening he and his wife were invited to view a painting in the Walters' magnificent new mansion. There de Cantel began a flirtation with Suzanne Walter; his own wife and Laroche-Mathieu had become intimates without attempting to conceal their friendship. That evening de Cantel persuaded Suzanne to agree never to accept a proposal without first asking his advice. At home after the reception he received with indifference the cross of the Legion of Honor which the foreign minister had given him. He felt that he was entitled to a larger reward for concealing news of the Moroccan affair from his readers. That spring he surprised his wife and Laroche-Mathieu at a rendezvous. Three months later he obtained a divorce, causing the minister's downfall by naming him correspondent.

A free man again, de Cantel was able to court Suzanne Walter. It was simple for him to persuade the girl to tell her parents she wished to marry him, to have her go away with him until they gave their consent to the match.

Mme. Walter was the only one at the magnificent church wedding to show any signs of sadness. She hated the daughter who had taken her lover, but at the same time she was powerless to prevent the marriage without compromising herself. M. Walter had managed to resign himself to having a conniving son-in-law, had, in fact, recognized his shrewdness by making him chief editor of the newspaper. Suzanne was innocently happy as she walked down the aisle with her father. Her new husband was also content. Greeting their well-wishers in the sacristy after the ceremony, he took advantage of the occasioin to reaffirm, with his eyes, his feelings for Mme. de Marelle. As he and his wife left the church, it seemed to him that it was only a stone's throw from that edifice to the chamber of deputies





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