Chapter 16 Divorce

During the remainder of the winter, the Du Roys often visited the Walters. Georges, too, frequently dined there alone, Madeleine pleading fatigue and preferring to remain at home. He had chosen Friday as his day, and Mme. Walter never invited anyone else on that evening; it belonged to Bel-Ami. Often in a dark corner or behind a tree in the conservatory, Mme. Walter embraced the young man and whispered in his ear: “I love you, I love you! I love you desperately!”

But he always repulsed her coldly, saying: “If you persist in that, I will not come again.”

Toward the end of March people talked of the marriage of the two sisters: Rose was to marry, Dame Rumor said, Count de Latour-Ivelin and Suzanne, the Marquis de Cazolles. The subject of Suzanne’s possible marriage had not been broached again between her and Georges until one morning, the latter having been brought home by M. Walter to lunch, he whispered to Suzanne: “Come, let us give the fish some bread.”

They proceeded to the conservatory in which was the marble basin containing the fish. As Georges and Suzanne leaned over its edge, they saw their reflections in the water and smiled at them. Suddenly, he said in a low voice: “It is not right of you to keep secrets from me, Suzanne.”

She asked:

“What secrets, Bel-Ami?”

“Do you remember what you promised me here the night of the fete?”

“No.”

“To consult me every time you received a proposal.”

“Well?”

“Well, you have received one!”

“From whom?”

“You know very well.”

“No, I swear I do not.”

“Yes, you do. It is from that fop of a Marquis de Cazolles.”

“He is not a fop.”

“That may be, but he is stupid. He is no match for you who are so pretty, so fresh, so bright!”

She asked with a smile: “What have you against him?”

“I? Nothing!”

“Yes, you have. He is not all that you say he is.”

“He is a fool, and an intriguer.”

She glanced at him: “What ails you?”

He spoke as if tearing a secret from the depths of his heart: “I am- -I am jealous of him.”

She was astonished.

“You?”

“Yes, I.”

“Why?”

“Because I love you and you know it”

Then she said severely: “You are mad, Bel-Ami!”

He replied: “I know that I am! Should I confess it — I, a married man, to you, a young girl? I am worse than mad — I am culpable, wretched — I have no possible hope, and that thought almost destroys my reason. When I hear that you are going to be married, I feel murder in my heart. You must forgive me, Suzanne.”

He paused. The young girl murmured half sadly, half gaily: “It is a pity that you are married; but what can you do? It cannot be helped.”

He turned toward her abruptly and said: “If I were free would you marry me?”

She replied: “Yes, Bel-Ami, I would marry you because I love you better than any of the others.”

He rose and stammering: “Thanks — thanks — do not, I implore you, say yes to anyone. Wait a while. Promise me.”

Somewhat confused, and without comprehending what he asked, she whispered: “I promise.”

Du Roy threw a large piece of bread into the water and fled, without saying adieu, as if he were beside himself. Suzanne, in surprise, returned to the salon.

When Du Roy arrived home, he asked Madeleine, who was writing letters: “Shall you dine at the Walters’ Friday? I am going.”

She hesitated: “No, I am not well. I prefer to remain here.”

“As you like. No one will force you.” Then he took up his hat and went out.

For some time he had watched and followed her, knowing all her actions. The time he had awaited had come at length.

On Friday he dressed early, in order, as he said, to make several calls before going to M. Walter’s. At about six o’clock, after having kissed his wife, he went in search of a cab. He said to the cabman: “You can stop at No. 17 Rue Fontaine, and remain there until I order you to go on. Then you can take me to the restaurant Du Coq- Faisan, Rue Lafayette.”

The cab rolled slowly on; Du Roy lowered the shades. When in front of his house, he kept watch of it. After waiting ten minutes, he saw Madeleine come out and go toward the boulevards. When she was out of earshot, he put his head out of the window and cried: “Go on!”

The cab proceeded on its way and stopped at the Coq-Faisan. Georges entered the dining-room and ate slowly, looking at his watch from time to time. At seven-thirty he left and drove to Rue La Rochefoucauld. He mounted to the third story of a house in that street, and asked the maid who opened the door: “Is M. Guibert de Lorme at home?”

“Yes, sir.”

He was shown into the drawing-room, and after waiting some time, a tall man with a military bearing and gray hair entered. He was the police commissioner.

Du Roy bowed, then said: “As I suspected, my wife is with her lover in furnished apartments they have rented on Rue des Martyrs.”

The magistrate bowed: “I am at your service, sir.”

“Very well, I have a cab below.” And with three other officers they proceeded to the house in which Du Roy expected to surprise his wife. One officer remained at the door to watch the exit; on the second floor they halted; Du Roy rang the bell and they waited. In two or three minutes Georges rang again several times in succession. They heard a light step approach, and a woman’s voice, evidently disguised, asked:

“Who is there?”

The police officer replied: “Open in the name of the law.”

The voice repeated: “Who are you?”

“I am the police commissioner. Open, or I will force the door.”

The voice continued: “What do you want?”

Du Roy interrupted: “It is I; it is useless to try to escape us.”

The footsteps receded and then returned. Georges said: “If you do not open, we will force the door.”

Receiving no reply he shook the door so violently that the old lock gave way, and the young man almost fell over Madeleine, who was standing in the antechamber in her petticoat, her hair loosened, her feet bare, and a candle in her hand.

He exclaimed: “It is she. We have caught them,” and he rushed into the room. The commissioner turned to Madeleine, who had followed them through the rooms, in one of which were the remnants of a supper, and looking into her eyes said:

“You are Mme. Claire Madeleine du Roy, lawful wife of M. Prosper Georges du Roy, here present?”

She replied: “Yes, sir.”

“What are you doing here?”

She made no reply. The officer repeated his question; still she did not reply. He waited several moments and then said: “If you do not confess, Madame, I shall be forced to inquire into the matter.”

They could see a man’s form concealed beneath the covers of the bed. Du Roy advanced softly and uncovered the livid face of M. Laroche- Mathieu.

The officer again asked: “Who are you?”

As the man did not reply, he continued: “I am the police commissioner and I call upon you to tell me your name. If you do not answer, I shall be forced to arrest you. In any case, rise. I will interrogate you when you are dressed.”

In the meantime Madeleine had regained her composure, and seeing that all was lost, she was determined to put a brave face upon the matter. Her eyes sparkled with the audacity of bravado, and taking a piece of paper she lighted the ten candles in the candelabra as if for a reception. That done, she leaned against the mantelpiece, took a cigarette out of a case, and began to smoke, seeming not to see her husband.

In the meantime the man in the bed had dressed himself and advanced. The officer turned to him: “Now, sir, will you tell me who you are?”

He made no reply.

“I see I shall have to arrest you.”

Then the man cried: “Do not touch me. I am inviolable.”

Du Roy rushed toward him exclaiming: “I can have you arrested if I want to!” Then he added: “This man’s name is Laroche-Mathieu, minister of foreign affairs.”

The officer retreated and stammered: “Sir, will you tell me who you are?”

“For once that miserable fellow has not lied. I am indeed Laroche- Mathieu, minister,” and pointing to Georges’ breast, he added, “and that scoundrel wears upon his coat the cross of honor which I gave him.”

Du Roy turned pale. With a rapid gesture he tore the decoration from his buttonhole and throwing it in the fire exclaimed: “That is what a decoration is worth which is given by a scoundrel of your order.”

The commissioner stepped between them, as they stood face to face, saying: “Gentlemen, you forget yourselves and your dignity.”

Madeleine smoked on calmly, a smile hovering about her lips. The officer continued: “Sir, I have surprised you alone with Mme. du Roy under suspicious circumstances; what have you to say?”

“Nothing; do your duty.”

The commissioner turned to Madeleine: “Do you confess, Madame, that this gentleman is your lover?”

She replied boldly: “I do not deny it. That is sufficient.”

The magistrate made several notes; when he had finished writing, the minister, who stood ready, coat upon arm, hat in hand, asked: “Do you need me any longer, sir? Can I go?”

Du Roy addressed him with an insolent smile: “Why should you go, we have finished; we will leave you alone together.” Then, taking the officer’s arm, he said: “Let us go, sir; we have nothing more to do in this place.”

An hour later Georges du Roy entered the office of “La Vie Francaise.” M. Walter was there; he raised his head and asked: “What, are you here? Why are you not dining at my house? Where have you come from?”

Georges replied with emphasis: “I have just found out something about the minister of foreign affairs.”

“What?”

“I found him alone with my wife in hired apartments. The commissioner of police was my witness. The minister is ruined.”

“Are you not jesting?”

“No, I am not. I shall even write an article on it.”

“What is your object?”

“To overthrow that wretch, that public malefactor.”

Georges placed his hat upon a chair and added: “Woe to those whom I find in my path. I never pardon.”

The manager stammered: “But your wife?”

“I shall apply for a divorce at once.”

“A divorce?”

“Yes, I am master of the situation. I shall be free. I have a stated income. I shall offer myself as a candidate in October in my native district, where I am known. I could not win any respect were I to be hampered with a wife whose honor was sullied. She took me for a simpleton, but since I have known her game, I have watched her, and now I shall get on, for I shall be free.”

Georges rose.

“I will write the item; it must be handled prudently.”

The old man hesitated, then said: “Do so: it serves those right who are caught in such scrapes.”

  在这一年冬天的剩余日子里,杜·洛瓦夫妇常去瓦尔特家。甚至在玛德莱娜声称自己懒得动弹而宁愿留在家里时,杜·洛瓦也照样要去同这一家人一起吃餐晚饭。

  星期五是他所选定的固定日子。每逢这一天,除了杜·洛瓦,老板夫人谁也不会邀请,因此这美好的时光也就属于我们这位漂亮朋友一个人所有。晚饭之后,大家常玩玩牌,喂喂金鱼,像一家人似的消磨着快乐的时光。瓦尔特夫人有好几次在较为隐蔽的地方,如门背后、花房里的树丛后面或某个昏暗的角落,冷不防抓住杜·洛瓦的双臂,紧紧地将他搂在怀内,在他耳边悄悄说道:“我爱你!……我爱你!……爱得简直不知如何是好!”每一次,杜·洛瓦总是冷冷地将她推开,严肃地向她说道:“又来了,您要总是这样,我就再也不来了。”

  三月底,两姐妹的婚事突然传得沸沸扬扬。大家都说,罗莎的未来郎君是德·拉图尔—伊夫林伯爵,苏珊的未来郎君则是德·卡佐勒侯爵。这两人已成为瓦尔特家的常客,享有非同一般的地位和待遇。

  不过,杜·洛瓦和苏珊却相处融洽,像亲兄妹一样无拘无束。两个人常常一聊就是几小时,把什么人也不放在眼内,彼此似乎十分相投。

  至于苏珊会嫁给谁的问题,他们一直未再提起,甚至也未谈到那些隔三岔五前来求婚的人。

  一天上午,杜·洛瓦被老板带来家中吃午饭。饭后,瓦尔特夫人被仆人找去接待一位来访的供货商,他趁便向苏珊提议道:

  “咱们去给金鱼喂点食怎样?”

  两人从饭桌上各拿了一大块面包,到了花房里。

  大理石水池四周放了些软垫,以备人们在近处观看游鱼时,可跪在上面。两个年轻人于是各拿了一块,肩并肩沿着水边跪了下来,开始向水中投扔手上捏出的小面包团。鱼儿看到后,立即摇头摆尾地游了过来。它们转动着凸出的大眼,或是来回转悠,或是潜入水下,吞食下沉的面包。随后又浮了上来,希望能再得到一块。

  这些小东西,嘴巴不停地一张一合,身子转动自如,行动敏捷,样子十分奇特。其鲜红的躯体在池底黄沙的衬托下,截然分明,像一团团火红的光焰,不时出没于碧波之中。而一旦停止游动,其鳞片的蓝色边沿便显得分外醒目。

  杜·洛瓦和苏珊看着自己映入水中的身影,不禁莞尔而笑。

  “苏珊,”杜·洛瓦突然轻声说道,“心里有事而不对我说,这可不好。”

  “你指的是什么,漂亮朋友?”苏珊问。

  “晚会那天,就在这里,你答应过我的话,难道忘了?”

  “没有呀。”

  “你曾答应我,只要有人向你求婚,便先来听听我的意见。”

  “怎么呢?”

  “怎么!有人已经向你求婚。”

  “谁?”

  “你自己知道。”

  “我向你发誓,一点也不知道。”

  “不,你知道。就是那个花花公子德·卡佐勒侯爵。”

  “这是怎么说呢?首先,他不是花花公子。”

  “就算不是吧,可是他毫无头脑,整天赌博耍钱,吃喝玩乐,败尽了家产。你年轻漂亮,聪明伶俐,能同这样的门第结亲,当然是再好不过啦。”

  “你好像非常恨他,”苏珊笑着问道。

  “我恨他?没有的事。”

  “不,你恨他。可他并不像你所说的。”

  “哪里,他是个机关算尽的蠢货。”

  苏珊稍稍侧过身,把目光从水中转移了过来:

  “瞧你,你这是怎么啦?”

  杜·洛瓦面露窘态,好像被追问不过而只得抖落出内心隐秘:

  “我是……我是……我是有点嫉妒他。”

  “你?”苏珊不免感到吃惊。

  “是的。”

  “怪了,这怎么会呢?”

  “因为我爱上了你。你这个坏东西,你心里完全清楚。”

  “你难道疯了,漂亮朋友?”苏珊突然正色道。

  “我知道,自己确是疯了。你是一个未婚少女,而我已是一个有妇之夫。事情不是明摆着的吗?我这样做,不但是疯了,而且是犯罪,甚至可以说是无耻。因此,我是不可能有什么希望的。一想到这一点,我便恨得难以自制。这不,听说你要结婚,我气得了不得,简直要动刀杀人。苏珊,心里憋了好久的话,今天都对你说了,希望你能原谅。”

  说到这里,他停了下来。水中的金鱼见上面再也没有面包扔下来,便像英国士兵似的排成一行,一动不动地呆在那里,目光集中在岸边两人的脸上。而这两人现在是再也不管它们了。

  “可惜你已经结婚了,”苏珊说,语气中既带着忧伤,又含有欣喜。“有什么办法?谁也无能为力,一切都完了。”

  杜·洛瓦猛地转过身,脸贴着脸,向她问道:

  “要是我离了婚,你能嫁给我吗?”

  “那当然,漂亮朋友,”苏珊不假思索地答道,“我会嫁给你的,因为我喜欢你,胜于喜欢其他任何人。”

  “谢谢……谢谢……”杜·洛瓦站起身,结结巴巴地说,“我只求你一点,马上不要接受任何人的求婚,姑且再等一等。

  算我求你了,这一点你能答应吗?”

  “行,我答应你,”苏珊说,心里乱糟糟的,不知道他究竟想干什么。

  杜·洛瓦将手中仍拿着的一大块面包往水里一扔,便慌慌忙忙地离开了苏珊,连“再见”也忘了说。

  未经手指捻碎的大块面包,漂浮在水面上。池中金鱼纷纷直冲过去,围在四周贪婪地大口大口啃啮着,后来又将面包推到水池的另一头,翻来覆去地在面包的下方你争我夺,搅成一团,如同一朵头朝下落在水中的鲜花,不停地颤动,旋转。

  心中既感到诧异又有点不安的苏珊,站起身,慢慢地回到客厅:漂亮朋友已经走了。

  杜·洛瓦神色平静地回到家中,玛德莱娜正在伏案写信。

  “瓦尔特家星期五的晚饭,你去吃吗?”他问,“我照例是要去的。”

  “我不去了,”玛德莱娜迟疑一会儿说道,“我有点不舒服,还是留在家里算了。”

  “去不去随你,”杜·洛瓦说,“并没有人强迫你。”

  说罢,他又拿起帽子,出了家门。

  很久以来,他便在注视着玛德莱娜的一举一动,不遗余力地对她进行监视和跟踪,因此对她的一切了如指掌。现在,他所期待的时刻已终于到来。玛德莱娜刚才说她“还是留在家里算了”时,其醉翁之意他一下就听了出来。

  后来的几天,他对她分外和气,整天乐呵呵的。这是他多日来所少有的,玛德莱娜因而说他简直像是变了个人。

  到了星期五,他很早便穿好了衣服,说是要去办点事,然后便去老板家吃晚饭。

  六点左右,他吻别妻子,出了家门,一径走到洛雷特圣母院广场,叫了辆出租马车。

  他向车夫说道:“请将车赶到泉水街,停在十七号对面,就呆在那里,直到我让你离开。然后请将我送到拉法耶特街的‘山鸡饭店’。”

  车子启动后迅速向前走着,杜·洛瓦将窗帘放了下来。不久,马车停在他家对面的马路上,他开始注视门前的动静。等了约十分钟后,他见玛德莱娜从里边走了出来,向环城大道走去。

  待她走远后,杜·洛瓦将头伸出车窗,向车夫喊了一声:

  “可以走了。”

  马车于是继续前行,很快将他送到本街区无人不晓的“山鸡饭店”。他走进饭店,要了几样菜,一边慢慢地吃着,一边不时地看着手腕上带着的手表。吃完饭,他又喝了一杯咖啡和两杯清醇的香槟,并点上一支上等雪茄,不慌不忙地抽着。到了七点半,他走出饭店,叫了一辆由此路过的空车,直奔拉罗什富科街。

  车子在一幢楼前停下后,他向门房问也没问,便直接上了四楼。他扣开一扇门,向前来开门的女仆问道:“请问吉贝尔·德·洛尔姆先生在家吧?”

  “在家,先生。”

  进入客厅后,他等了片刻。不久,一军人模样、胸前挂着勋章的人走了进来。此人身材魁伟,虽然还很年轻,但已头发花白。

  杜·洛瓦向他打过招呼后说道:

  “警长先生,果然不出我所料,我妻子同她的奸夫此刻正在他们租下的一间家具齐备的房子里吃晚饭。地点就在烈士街。”

  “我听您的,先生,”警长欠了欠身,说道。

  “你们采取行动是否须在九点之前?”杜·洛瓦又说,“过了这个时间,你们就不能去私人住所捉奸了。”

  “是的,先生。冬天是七点,三月三十一日后是九点。今天是四月五号,因此可到九点。”

  “那好,警长先生。我在楼下备有一辆马车。我们可用这辆车去警察局接您手下的人,一同前往。时间既然还早,我们到达后可在门外稍等一等。这种事,越是晚去,便越有可能当场捉住。”

  “可以,先生。”

  警长去穿了件大衣,把三色腰带遮盖了起来。回到客厅后,他将身子闪过一旁,让杜·洛瓦先走。杜·洛瓦因心里正在考虑着什么,不想先走,因此连声说道:“还是您先请……您先请。”

  “走吧,先生,这是在我家里,”警长说道。

  杜·洛瓦于是向他欠了欠身,走了出去。

  他们先到了警察局,去接三个在局内等候的便衣警察。因为杜·洛瓦已在白天去了警察局,说当晚定可将这对贼男女当场抓住。一个警察随即上了驾辕的位置,坐在车夫身旁,另两个则钻进了车内。车子很快到了烈士街。

  下车后,杜·洛瓦说道:“他们就在三楼,房内的布局我一清二楚。进门后有一间小客厅,接着是餐厅,卧房在最里边。三个房间彼此相通。整个楼房,除了外边的大门,没有其他出口可以逃走。不远处住着一个锁匠,你们随时可以差遣。”

  几个人走到他所说的楼房前,时间还才是八点过一刻。大家只得默默地在门外等了二十多分钟。到八点三刻,见杜·洛瓦说了声“现在可以上去了”,众人立即到了楼梯前,对门房根本未予理会,况且门房也未看到他们。为了稳妥起见,他们在街上留了一人,把守大门。

  四个人到达三楼后,杜·洛瓦将耳朵贴在门上听了听,接着又透过锁孔看了看。屋内寂然无声,没有一点动静。他于是伸手按了按门铃。

  警长这时向他的两位副手说道:“你们不必进去,留在这儿待命。”

  大家等了等。两三分钟后,杜·洛瓦又将门铃一连按了几下。屋里终于传来一点声响,接着是一阵轻微的脚步声。显然是有个人走了过来窥探动静。杜·洛瓦屈起手指用力在门上敲了敲。

  “谁呀?”一个竭力不让人认出、好像是女人的声音问道。

  “快开门,我们是警察局的,”警长回道。

  “您是谁?”里边的声音又问。

  “我是警长。快开门,否则我们就要破门而入了。”

  “你们要做什么?”还是里边的声音。

  “是我,”杜·洛瓦说话了。“还是开门吧,你们已无法逃出我们的手心。”

  轻微的、显然是光着脚的脚步声远去了,但不到几秒钟又走了回来。

  “你若还不开门,我们可要硬撞了,”杜·洛瓦说。他手握铜质门把,慢慢地用肩顶在了门上。见对方依然一声不吭,说时迟那时快,他使出全身力气猛的一下撞了过去,门上的旧锁顷刻土崩瓦解。锁上的螺丝一个个早已飞出槽孔,使得杜·洛瓦差一点倒在玛德莱娜身上。因为刚刚在门里说话的正是她。只见她头发蓬乱,两腿外露,身上只穿了件胸衣和短裙,正拿着一支蜡烛站在那里。

  “今天要找的就是她!他们是逃不了啦,”杜·洛瓦大叫一声,冲进屋内。警长摘下帽子,跟了过去。丧魂失魄的玛德莱娜,举着蜡烛,走在后边。

  他们穿过餐厅时,只见餐桌上杯盘狼藉:除了几块吃剩下的面包和几个喝干的香槟酒瓶,还放着一个鸡的空骨架和一瓶打开了的鹅肝酱。餐具架上放着两个装满牡蛎壳的盘子。

  卧房里到处扔着衣物,简直像是刚刚经历过一场搏斗。一张椅子的椅背上搭着一件连衣裙,扶手椅的扶手上则挂着一条男人穿的短裤。四只短靴——其中两大两小——歪倒在床脚下。

  这是一间连带家具出租的公寓房,不但陈设一般,且弥漫着一种闷浊的难闻气味,同旅馆中常见的相仿。这气味既有墙壁、窗帘、床垫和座椅所散发出的,也有在此公寓房住过一天或半年之久的客人留下来的。随着客人的一批批更换,这滞留不去的人体气味也就越积越浓,变成一种时时侵扰、无以名状、令人难以忍受的怪味了。这在各公共场所已是司空见惯。

  壁炉上放着杂物:一个点心盘、一瓶查尔特勒产甜酒和两只酒杯,杯内的酒只喝了一半。铜座钟上方的人形装饰上,扣着一顶男人戴的大礼帽。

  警长倏地转过身,两眼逼视着玛德莱娜:

  “这一位是记者普罗斯佩—乔治·杜·洛瓦先生,您就是他的合法妻子克莱尔—玛德莱娜·杜·洛瓦夫人吗?”

  玛德莱娜声音极低地答道:

  “是的,先生。”

  “您在这里做什么?”

  她没有回答。

  警长又问:“您在这儿做什么?此时此刻,您不在自己家里,几乎赤身露体呆在这家具齐备的房内,到这里做什么来了?”

  他等了一会儿,见玛德莱娜依然一言不发,便又说道:“夫人,既然您不愿说,我只好自己来把情况弄清楚了。”

  一眼可见,床上显然躺着一个人,被子盖得严严实实。

  警长走过去,喊了一声:“先生!”

  床上的人纹丝未动。看样子,像是背朝外,脑袋埋在枕头底下。

  “先生,”警长碰了碰那像肩膀的地方说道,“请放明白些,不要逼我动手。”

  被褥下的人仍旧毫无反应,仿佛死了一样。

  杜·洛瓦抢步上前,将被头掀了掀,然后一使劲,抽去枕头,拉罗舍—马蒂厄一张毫无血色的脸也就露了出来。杜·洛瓦俯过身去,恨不得一把将他掐死,但最后只是咬牙切齿地骂了一句:

  “既然有脸干这见不得人的丑事,也该有勇气站出来承认。”

  “你是谁?”警长问道。少顷,见奸夫慌乱不已,一句话也答不上来,他又说道:“我是警长。快说,你叫什么?”

  “快说,你这胆小鬼。”怒火中烧的杜·洛瓦在一旁喊道,“你要再不说,我就替你说了。”

  “警长先生,”床上的人终于开口道,“这家伙如此侮辱我,您不能坐视不管。你们两人中究竟谁的话算数?我是回答您还是回答他?”

  这两句话,他说得有气无力。

  “当然是回答我,先生,”警长说道,“告诉我,你是谁?”

  对方又闷声不响了,一个劲地用被子护住脖颈以下的躯体,眼神中透出无比的恐惧。嘴角两撇乌黑的短髭,同惨白的面色形成鲜明的对照。

  “你还是不说?”警长又说道,“这样的话,我便只好将你先行逮捕。不管怎样,你还是先起床,待你穿好衣服,我们再审问。”

  “可是您站在这儿,我没法起床,”对方扭动了一下身躯,只露出一个脑袋说道。

  “为什么?”警长问。

  “因为我……我……没穿衣服。”

  杜·洛瓦哼的一声冷笑,一面捡起他丢在地上的衬衣,扔到床上,一面向他吼道:

  “算了吧……快起来……你既然能够在我妻子面前脱光衣服,也该有脸当着我的面把衣服穿上。”

  说罢,他转身回到了壁炉边。

  玛德莱娜此时已恢复镇定。事已至此,她是什么也无所畏惧了,目光中闪耀着勇毅的光芒。她卷起一个纸卷,像有贵客光临似的,把壁炉旁七扭八歪的大烛台上插着的十枝蜡烛,一一点了起来。随后,她背靠壁炉中央,将两只光着的脚,向那奄奄一息的炉火,从后面伸了一只过去。只达胯部的衬裙,下摆部分因而被高高撩起。壁炉上放着一包呈粉红色纸包的香烟,她随手抽出一支,点燃后抽了起来。

  为便于她的相好穿衣起床,警长也向她这边走了过来。

  “先生,您常干这种差事吗?”玛德莱娜毫不客气地向他问道。

  “很少很少,夫人,”警长一本正经地答道。

  玛德莱娜发出一声冷笑:“这就好,因为这毕竟不是什么光彩的事情。”

  她有意不看她丈夫,好像他根本就不在场似的。

  这当儿,床上的先生正忙着穿衣。他穿上长裤和鞋靴后,一边套着背心,一边走了过来。

  警长转过身子,向他说道:

  “先生,现在请告诉我你的姓名。”

  不想此人仍旧是什么也不说。

  “既然如此,我只好将你先行逮捕。”警长说道。

  “别碰我,你根本没有资格!”对方突然大声说道。

  杜·洛瓦好像要对他动武似的,一个箭步冲上来,气势汹汹地向他吼道:“不要忘了……你是当场被捉。只要我愿意……就凭这一点,完全可以让他们把你抓起来。”

  “这家伙是现任外交部长,名叫拉罗舍—马蒂厄。”他接着说道,声音特别响亮。

  警长听了一怔,不由地后退一步,说道:

  “说真的,先生,对于我刚才的问话,你到底是说还是不说?”

  对方只得把心一横,大声回道:

  “这个混蛋,这一次总算没有胡说。我确是拉罗舍—马蒂厄,现任外交部长。”

  接着,他指了指杜·洛瓦胸前那闪着红光的小玩意儿,说道:“他身上戴的这荣誉团十字勋章,就是我给他弄的。”

  杜·洛瓦顿时面色煞白,嚓的一下把系在扣子上的那块红绶带扯了下来,扔到了壁炉里:

  “你这恶棍弄来的东西有什么希奇?我毫不希罕。”

  两个人牙关紧闭,怒目而视,彼此的脸贴得很近,虽然一个瘦削,一个矮胖,但都捏紧了拳头,眼看就要动起武来。

  警长慌忙插到他们中间,用手将两人分开:

  “先生们,你们这是何必呢,也未免太有失身份了。”

  双方终于未再说什么,转过身,走开了。玛德莱娜依然一动不动地在那里抽着烟,脸上挂着一丝冷笑。

  “部长先生,”警长这时说道,“我刚才进来时,您正一个人同这位杜·洛瓦夫人呆在一起。您躺在床上,而她却几乎没穿什么,同时您的衣服在房里扔得到处都是。这已构成通奸罪,并被我当场抓住。以上事实确凿无疑,您是无法否认的。您有什么要说?”

  “我没什么好说的,”拉罗舍—马蒂厄嘟哝道,“你该怎么办,就怎么办好了。”

  “夫人,”警长又转向玛德莱娜,“您是否承认,这位先生是您的情夫?”

  玛德莱娜很是爽快:“我不否认,他是我的情夫。”

  “很好。这样一来,我的事也就完了。”

  警长接着记了几点有关现场的情况。已穿好衣服的拉罗舍—马蒂厄,一手挎着大衣,一手提着帽子,待他写完后向他问道:

  “先生,这里还需要我吗?要是没什么事,我就走了。”

  “干吗走呀,先生?”杜·洛瓦转向他,毫无顾忌地讪笑道,“我们的事已经完了,你们可以重新上床。我们这就走。”

  说着,他轻轻碰了碰警长:

  “警长先生,我们走吧,这儿已没有我们的事了。”

  警长对他的话显然感到有点惊异,随即跟着他往外走去。不想到了门边,杜·洛瓦忽然停了下来,示意警长先走。警长谦逊地让了让。

  “不,先生请,”杜·洛瓦坚持道。

  “不,还是您先请,”警长说。

  “警长先生,请不必客气,”杜·洛瓦彬彬有礼欠了欠身,带着一种嘲讽的口吻说道。“我们今日在此,可以说也就是在我自己家里。”

  出了门后,只见他小心翼翼,轻轻将门重新关好。

  一小时后,乔治·杜·洛瓦到了《法兰西生活报》。

  瓦尔特先生已先他一步到达。老板对他的这家报纸现在仍十分关注,事无巨细都要亲自过问。报纸发行量的大大增加,为其扩充银行业务提供了很大便利。

  杜·洛瓦走进他的办公室后,老板抬起头来向他问道:“啊,你来了。今天是怎么啦?为什么没来我家吃晚饭?这是从哪儿来?”

  杜·洛瓦完全清楚,自己的话会使对方多么地惊讶不止,因此一字一顿地说道:

  “我刚刚把我们的外交部长拉下了马?”

  瓦尔特以为他在开玩笑:

  “什么?拉下了马……”

  “是的,内阁马上就要改组,情况就是这样。这僵尸一般的家伙,早就该把他拉下来了。”

  老板直愣愣地看着他,以为他喝醉了:

  “哎呀,你在胡说什么!”

  “我说的是真的。拉罗舍—马蒂厄和我妻子通奸,刚才被我当场抓住。整个情况,警方也亲眼目睹。这位部长大人现在算是完了。”

  瓦尔特呆若木鸡,将眼镜一把推上前额:

  “你这不是在同我开玩笑吧?”

  “当然不是。我打算马上就此写一篇报道。”

  “你想怎样?”

  “让这个流氓、恶棍、混入政府部门的骗子永世不得翻身!”

  杜·洛瓦把帽子放在扶手椅上,接着又说道:

  “谁要是挡我的道,可要小心点,我是决不轻饶的。”

  老板似乎仍莫名其妙,嗫嚅着问道:

  “可是……你妻子呢?”

  “明天早上,我就正式提出离婚,把她还给死鬼弗雷斯蒂埃。”

  “离婚?”

  “当然,她让我丢尽了脸。为了能把他们当场捉住,我不得不对他们睁一只眼闭一只眼。现在好了,主动权已掌握在我手中。”

  瓦尔特仍然有点懵里懵懂,只是惊恐地看着他,心下想道:“天哪,这家伙可不是等闲之辈!”

  “我现在无拘无束……”杜·洛瓦又说,“钱也有了一点。今年十月议会改选时,我将去我家乡参加竞选,我在那边已有一定名气。在众人眼中,我这个妻子是个很糟糕的女人。同她在一起,我不论做什么一直不能堂堂正正,获得人们的尊敬。她把我当傻瓜,给我灌迷魂汤,把我弄得服服帖帖。不想她的行藏很快被我识破,她的一举一动也就在我的严密监视之下了,这个臭婊子。”

  他哈哈一笑,又接着说道:

  “可怜弗雷斯蒂埃戴了绿帽子……自己竟毫未察觉,依然是那样自信,心里什么事也没有。他留给我的这个骚货,总算被我甩掉了。我现在一身轻,什么都可以去试他一试。”

  他岔开两腿,骑坐在椅子上,又得意地复述了一遍其内心想法:“我完全可以什么都去试他一试。”

  眼镜仍放在脑门上的瓦尔特老头,一直在瞪着大眼看着他,心中不由地嘀咕道:

  “是的,这个混蛋,现在什么都做得出来。”

  “我要去写那篇报道了,”杜·洛瓦站了起来。“此事可马虎不得。您想必也已看出,文章一发表,将够这位部长受的。他已成了落水狗,谁也救不了他。《法兰西生活报》已无必要顾及他的面子。”

  瓦尔特沉吟片刻,最后拿定主意道:

  “去写你的报道吧,他既已到了这步田地,我们也爱莫能助。”

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