Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chapter 6:Du Roy Ready to Propose:Georges Du Roy and Lily Bart:Bel Ami and House of Mirth

Georges Du Roy
I’m watching her out there on the terrace with Selden. I look at the way they stand with each other facing the soon to be setting sun. I hope it sets on them very soon.

They do like each other, but he does not love her enough. He loves her the way Linton loved Cathy. However, she is not a Cathy, and I love her about the way he does. The way bookish Linton loved Cathy. Only I have assets, so my less than torrid romantic interest in her is acceptable and proper. Since he has nothing, he needs to have a passion for her, which he does not.  She is talking earnestly to him. I wonder if she is talking about me.

I see Rosedale starting out to greet her. She turns disinterestedly towards him, but he pretends not to notice. She nods to him about something and he comes back into the room.

I plan to go out on the terrace and propose to her. I intend to listen to her story ending choice first. If she ends it with a no, then I am prepared to soothe and reassure her; to convince her otherwise, which I am sure I can do. If she has chosen the yes ending, then the deal is closed.

It’s time, I say to myself, and I start out there. She sees me before I am too close to the terrace to surprise her. Her face is friendly as I walk up to her. “Mademoiselle Bart”, I say, picking up her hand to kiss it lightly but with my mouth open on her skin. She smells lovely. She smiles and greets me, “Baron Du Roy,” she nods. She turns to Selden and says, “I think it is getting chilly now that the sun is setting. May I please ask you for a favor?”

“Of course,” he says.

“My fluffy pink feather wrap is back in there. Would you find it for me and bring it to me, please?” Selden nods and leaves the terrace leaving Lily and me alone. 

“I received your letter this morning and I have read your story, both parts. It’s charming. Thank you for asking my advice on which ending. You’re under no obligation to use my choice, however,” she smiles.

Lily is unusually  direct. This means she has given this some serious thought.

I bow to her, raising my one eyebrow and ask, “Which one did you liked the best?” This confuses her as she has expected my using the word choose.  

“Hmmmm. It was difficult to choose. Actually I started writing  my own.”

C’est vrai?” I respond.

Oui,” she answers me in French.

Returning to English she puzzles her face a little and says, "I also had two endings in mind. Perhaps a little more complex than yours, I think. But that seems to be the way women are."

“In one she is thinking of saying no. Her reason is the interesting part. She is really very attracted to him, but she has observed things about him that puzzle her. He is handsome, rich, titled and very charming. He has perfect manners, but they seem to her to have an artificial veneer. They are almost, but not quite natural, as if he has studied manners and their perfect practice. His behavior is well, not quite orthodox, a little spontaneous. This makes her uneasy as she will be traveling to China with him if she agrees to marry him, and she has no friends there, no one to go to if her situation becomes uncomfortable. Simply put, she fears him enough to be wary about falling into his power. This would happen to her if she says yes. She wants to but she is equally afraid, so I have left the ending ambiguous, ending before she finally decides and chooses. She is saying no to herself at this point but really wants to say yes.

“The second one she is thinking of saying yes. She is aware that she will live with him in a foreign country, which is unsettling, but she has arranged her reply to  acknowledge the honor he has paid her by asking her to be his wife. She replies by telling him this, saying that she understands he wishes a wife who will keep order in his house, have superb aesthetic taste in furnishing it, in arranging social affairs, ensuring his name and reputation will continue to be spotless. She also adds that she has come to this decision not only for the security it offers her, her ability to know what he wishes her to be for him, but primarily because she yearns for this little boy who has been without a mother all his life. In this way she intends to structure the relationship to be compatible for herself and for him. So she has stressed the contractual obligations, but has softened this with her concern for the child. She has also masked her attraction to him.

She has watched my expression the entire time she has been talking.

I am ready to kill her. I am also ready to throw her on the terrace stones and ravish her.

She has upped the stakes to Double or Quits. She has managed to say no while implying yes, and she has managed to say yes while implying that she will acquiesce to conjugal embraces without passion. I am completely out maneuvered. If she says no I will not be able to convince her, as the more attraction she feels, the more likely she will be to say no. Now I must propose without any advance knowing. How did she manage to do this. She has thrown another blasted obstacle into this strategy of mine. The situation is identical to my first meeting with Madeleine. My writing edited and made superior by this slip of a woman who has never written professionally, who is going to be a cool and careful wife – partner. All her affection and love and tenderness will go to my son. I do not want another Madeleine.

She will always do this. I will never get the best of her. She is just too intuitively intelligent. This is why she has never married. She has done this to every last one of them. What in God’s name does she want?

And at this moment while gazing at her, I realize I have fallen hopelessly in love with her, that I am completely in love with her, completely in her power, and I love her with the ferocity that Heathcliff loves Cathy.

What a beastly dilemma. This is not what I had planned at all. Now I must have her, and I must win her heart after we are married. Very well, I will do that.

I still want to kill her.

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