4 Easy Ways to Say Goodbye in French - wikiHow
Translations in context of "A bientôt," in French-English from Reverso Context: à bientôt, a bientôt, goodbye. So long,. I'll see you,. I'll see you soon,. I'll be seeing you,. See you. So long, Ruth, thanks again! Until we meet again, Mr. Parry. Oh and you'd love to communicate your desire to come back to try that fondant and delete words when they speak, something I explain in detail in this article. in general, so you'll rarely hear a seller say “bye” unless you're a teenager. who made a mistake and is now going to meet his boss to apologize for example. When it comes to learning French you really have to be in the country 23 things you don't know about the French language until you live in France French is often "Un peu too much" But they often prefer kisses to goodbye . live in Sweden but won't be flying back to their home country for Christmas.
His skin was so pale that the long thin scars hardly showed. And his eyes were like holes poked in a snowbank. It was pretty obvious that the buttons in the prowl car were about ready to drop the hook on him, so I went over there fast and took hold of his arm. I winked at him from the side. You're halfway into the drunk tank already.
There was a taxi stand there and I yanked open the door. He swung his head around and saw Terry. My friend is sick. I reached in and got the door open. I got Terry Lennox in and the shadow of the prowl car blocked the far window. A gray-haired cop got out and came over.
I went around the taxi and met him. What have we got here? Is the gentleman in the soiled laundry a real dose friend of yours? He, put his hand out and I put my license in it. He looked at it and handed it back. Marlowe, What about him? He works in pictures. I'd say he didn't sleep indoors too lately. I'd even say he was a vag and so maybe we ought to take him in. He turned, and made a gesture with his hand. I got into the taxi and we went the three-odd blocks to my parking lot and shifted Tto my car.
I held out the five-spot to the hackie. He gave me a stiff look and shook his head. I been down and out myself.
Nobody picked me up in no taxi- either. There's one stony-hearted town. We went to a drive-in where they made hamburgers that didn't taste like something the dog wouldn't eat. I fed Terry Lennox a couple and a bottle of beer and drove him home. The steps were still tough on him but he grinned and panted and made the dimb. An hour later he was shaved and bathed and he looked human again. We sat down over a couple of very mild drinks.
Could I do less? I live here all the time. I have an office as well. Looks like you don't have many friends. They all say that, don't they? It's a different world. You have to get used to a paler set of colors, a quieter lot of sounds.
You have to allow for relapses. All the people you used to know well will get to be just a little strange. You won't even like most of them, and they won't like you too well. He turned and looked at the dock. If I could bail it out I could buy a cheap one and pawn the one that's checked for enough to get to Vegas on the bus. I can get a job there. I just nodded and sat there nursing my drink. Is the job for sure or just a hope? Fellow I knew very well in the army runs a big dub there, the Terrapin Club.
He's part racketeer, of course, they all are-but the other part is a nice guy. But I'd just as soon it bought something that would stay bought for a while. Better talk to him on the phone. Randy Starr won't let me down, He never has.
And the suitcase will pawn for fifty dollars. I know from experience. I'm no big soft-hearted slob. So you take what's offered and be good.
I want you out of my hair because I've got a feeling about you. He was only sipping the stuff. What sort of feeling? I don't know just why I have the feeling, but I have it. It does make me look a little sinister, I suppose. But it's an honorable wound-or anyhow the result of one. That doesn't bother me at all. I'm a private dick. You're a problem that I don't have to solve. But the problem is there.
Call it a hunch. If you want to be extra polite, call it a sense of character. Maybe that girl didn't walk out on you at The Dancers just because you were drunk. Maybe she had a feeling too. Her name is Sylvia Lennox. I married her for her money. You're wondering why if I was down and out and Sylvia had plenty I couldn't ask her for a few bucks. Did you ever hear of pride? My kind of pride is different.
It's the pride of a man who has nothing else. I'm sorry if I annoy you. We ate in the breakfast nook. The house belonged to the period that always had one.
I said I had to go to the office and would pick up his suitcase on the way back. He gave me the check ticket. His face now had a little color and the eyes were not so far back in his head that you had to grope for them. Before I went out I put the whiskey bottle on the table in front of the couch. I was still sore going down the steps. I didn't know why, any more than I knew why a man would starve and walk the streets rather than pawn his wardrobe.
Whatever his rules were he played by them. The suitcase was the damndest thing you ever saw. It was bleached pigskin and when new had been a pale cream color. The fittings were gold. It was English made and if you could buy it here at all, it would cost more like eight hundred than two. I planked it down in front of him. I looked at the bottle on the cocktail table. He hadn't touched it. He was as sober as I was. He was smoking, but not liking that very well. He looked out of the window.
That was given- to me in England, long before I met her. Very long ago indeed. I'd like to leave it with you, if you could lend me an old one. I just don't want it with me in Vegas.
And I don't need this much money. You keep the money and I'll keep the suitcase. But this house is easy to burgle. He caught the bus on Cahuenga and I drove home thinking about this and that. His empty suitcase was on my bed where he had unpacked it and put his stuff in a lightweight job of mine.
His had a gold key which was in one of the locks. I locked the suitcase up empty and tied the key to the handle and put it on the high shelf on my dothes doset. It didn't feel quite empty, but what was in it was no business of mine. It was a quiet night and the house seemed emptier than usual. I set out the chessmen and played a French defense against Steinitz.
He beat me in forty-four moves, but I had him sweating a couple of times. The phone rang at nine-thirty and the voice that spoke was one I had heard before.
We met very briefly in front of The Dancers one night last month. I heard afterwards that you had been kind enough to see that Terry got home. He gave up the apartment he had in Westwood and nobody seems to know where he is.
Marlowe, I've been married to the man. I'm not very sympathetic to drunks. Perhaps I was a little unfeeling and perhaps I had something rather important to do. You're a private detective and this can be put on a professional basis, if you prefer it. He's on a bus going to Las Vegas. He has a friend there who will give him a job. How sentimental of him. That's where we were married. It was a cute little laugh.
Let's say to your lady friends, then. The guy was down and out, starving, dirty, without a bean. You could have found him if it had been worth your time. He didn't want anything from you then and he probably doesn't want anything from you now. She was dead right, of course, and I was dead wrong.
But I didn't feel wrong. I just felt sore. If she had called up half an hour earlier I might have been sore enough to beat the hell out of Steinitz-except that he had been dead for fifty years and the chess game was out of a book. A note written on hotel paper came with it. He thanked me, wished me a Merry Christmas and all kinds of luck and said he hoped to see me again soon.
The kick was in a postscript. She says please don't be sore at her for wanting to try again. I don't read them often, only when I run out of things to dislike. Sylvia is having Marcel and Jeanne Duhaux redecorate the entire mansion in Encino from basement to roof in the most devastatingly dernier cri. Curt Westerheym, Sylvia's last but one, my dears, gave her the little eighteen-room shack for a wedding present, you may remember.
And whatever happened to Curt, you ask? Tropez has the answer, and permanently I hear. Also a certain very, very blue-blooded French duchess with two perfectly adorable children.
And what does Harlan Potter think of the remarriage, you may also ask? One can only guess. Potter is one person who but never gives an interview. How exclusive can you get, darlings? After the society page dog vomit even the wrestlers looked good.
But the facts were probably right. On the society page they better be. I had a mental picture of the kind of eighteen-room shack that would go with a few of the Potter millions, not to mention decorations by Duhaux in the last subphallic symbolism.
There was no reason why I should have. If the guy wanted to be somebody's woolly bear, it was no skin off my teeth. I just didn't want to see him again. But I knew I would-if only on account of his goddamn gold-plated pigskin suitcase. It was five o'clock of a wet March evening when he walked into my down-at-heels brain emporium. Older, very sober and severe and beautifully calm. He looked like a guy who had learned to roll with a punch.
He wore an oyster-white raincoat and gloves and no hat and his white hair was as smooth as a bird's breast. Englishmen don't shake hands all the time like Americans and although he wasn't English he had some of the mannerisms. It kind of worries me. It's a sort of link with a time when I wasn't a no-good waster.
Let's go get that drink. He drove me in a rust-colored Jupiter-Jowett with a flimsy canvas rain top under which there was only just room for the two of us. It had pale leather upholstery and what looked like silver fittings. I'm not too fussy about cars, but the damn thing did make my mouth water a little.
He said it would do sixty-five in second. It had a squatty little gear shift that barely came up to his knee. You don't really need one. You can start it in third even uphill and that's as high as you can shift in traffic anyway.
I'm a very pampered guy. Double wipers swished gently over the little windscreen. There's always a price tag, chum. You think I'm not happy maybe?
I was out of line.
Who the hell wants to be happy? For some strange reason I seem to be able to handle the stuff. But you never know, do you? A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow. How did you get on with Randy Starr? Down my street he's called a tough number. I guess they all are.
But it doesn't show on him. I could name you a couple of lads in the same racket in Hollywood that act the part. In Las Vegas he's a legitimate businessman. You look him up next time you're there. He'll be your pal.
I don't like hoodlums. We have that kind of world. Two wars gave it to us and we are going to keep it. Randy and I and another fellow were in a jam once. It made a sort of bond between us. If by any chance the guy owed you something, think of his end. He'd like a chance to pay something back. But I worked at it while I had it. As for asking favors or handouts, no," "But you'll take them from a stranger. That much would just get a real souse started. So I guess maybe he was cured at that. Then he drove me back to the office.
Only millionaires' servants will stand for it nowadays. Lots of lovely people coming. We didn't always go to the same bar, but oftener to Victor's than anywhere else. It may have had some association for him that I didn't know about.
He never drank too much, and that surprised him. When you don't have it, it's as though you never did have it. I'm a reasonably friendly type but we don't live in the same world. I don't even know where you bang out except that it's Encino. I should guess your home life is adequate.
The place was almost empty. There was the usual light scattering of compulsive drinkers getting tuned up at the bar on the stools, the kind that reach very slowly for the first one and watch their hands so they won't knock anything over.
Am I supposed to? I guess Sylvia is happy enough, though not necessarily with me. In our cirde that's not too important. There's always something to do if you don't have to work or consider the cost. It's no real fun but the rich don't know that. They never had any. They never want anything very hard except maybe somebody else's wife and that's a pretty pale desire compared with the way a plumber's wife wants new curtains for the living room.
I let him carry the ball. A little tennis, a little golf, a little swimming and horseback riding, and the exquisite pleasure of watching Sylvia's friends trying to hold out to lupch time before they start killing their hangovers.
I was getting so used to his scarred face that I only noticed it when some change of expression emphasized its one-sided woodenness. With money they are just heavy drinkers. If they vomit in the lanai, that's for the butler to handle. Besides I'm boring you and God knows I'm boring myself. I'm a trained listener. Sooner or later I may figure out why you like being a kept poodle.
He had a remote little smile. I was raised in an orphanage in Salt Lake City. We had come in my car, and for once I had been fast enough to grab the check. I watched him out of sight. The light from a store window caught the gleam of his white hair for a moment as he faded into the light mist. I liked him better drunk, down and out, hungry and beaten and proud. Maybe I just liked being top man. His reasons for things were hard to figure.
In my business there's a time to ask questions and a time to let your man simmer until he boils over. Every good cop knows that. It's a good deal like chess or boxing: Some people you have to crowd and keep off balance. Some you just box and they will end up beating themselves. He would have told me the story of his life if I had asked him. But I never even asked him how he got his face smashed.GoodBye Song (So Long Farewell) from out of the box
If I had and he told me, it just possibly might have saved a couple of lives. Just possibly, no more. He looked tired and thinner but he looked around with a slow smile of pleasure. When the air inside is still cool and clean and everything is shiny and the barkeep is giving himself that last look in the mirror to see if his tie is straight and his hair is smooth.
I like the neat bottles on the bar back and the lovely shining glasses and the anticipation. I like to watch the man mix the first one of the evening and put it down on a crisp mat and put the little folded napkin beside it. I like to taste it slowly. The first quiet drink of the evening in a quiet bar-that's wonderful," I agreed with him.
After that you take the girl's dothes off. I'm not sneering at sex. It's necessary and it doesn't have to be ugly. But it always has to be managed. Making it glamorous is a billion-dollar industry and it costs every cent of it.
It's nice in here.
But after a while the lushes will fill the place up and talk loud and laugh and the goddain women will start waving their hands and screwing up their faces and tinkling their goddam bracelets and making with the packaged charm which will later on in the evening have a slight but unmistakable odor of sweat.
What did you expect-golden butterflies hovering in a rosy mist? Could be I'm fond of her too in a remote sort of way. Some day she'll need me and I'll be the only guy around not holding a chisel. Likely enough then I'll flunk out.
I'm a weak character, without guts or ambition. I caught the brass ring and it shocked me to find out it wasn't gold. A guy like me has one big moment in his life, one perfect swing on the high trapeze. Then he spends the rest of his time trying not to fall off the sidewalk into the gutter.
We don't talk much any more. Maybe of the old man. Harlan Potter is a coldhearted son of a bitch. All Victorian dignity on the outside. Inside he's as ruthless as a Gestapo thug. Sylvia is a tramp. He knows it and he hates it and there's nothing he can do about it.
But he waits and he watches and if Sylvia ever gets into a big mess of scandal he'll break her in half and bury the two halves a thousand miles apart. The barman stared, but didn't say anything.
Oh sure, I'm her husband. That's what the record says. I'm the three white steps and the big green front door and the brass knocker you rap one long and two short and the maid lets you into the hundreddollar whorehouse.
He called something after me, but I kept going. Ten minutes later I was sorry. But ten minutes later I was somewere else. He didn't come to the office any more, Not at all, not once. I had got to him where it hurt.
I didn't see him again for a month. When I did it was five o'clock in the morning and just beginning to get light. The persistent ringing of the doorbell yanked me out of bed.
I plowed down the hall and across the living room and opened up. He stood there looking as if he hadn't slept for a week. He had a light topcoat on with the collar turned up and he seemed to be shivering. A dark felt hat was pulled down over his eyes. He had a gun in his hand. It was a medium-caliber automatic, foreign made, certainly not a Colt or a Savage. With the white tired face and the scars and the turned-up collar and the pulled-down hat and the gun he could have stepped right out of an old fashioned kick-em-in-the-teeth gangster movie.
For certain reasons I can't take a train or a bus or a plane from L. Would five hundred bucks be a reasonable taxi fare?
goodbye, farewell, so long | WordReference Forums
He looked down at it rather absently. Then he dropped it into his pocket. The living room was still dark, because of the heavy growth of shrubbery the owner had allowed to mask the windows. I put a lamp on and mooched a cigarette. I stared down at him. I rumpled my hair which was already rumpled. I put the old tired grin on my face. Well, there's plenty of time. Let's go out to the kitchen and I'll brew some coffee.
But it kind of went with his style of entry, the way he was dressed, the gun and all. You can hear those tough old eucalyptus trees across the street whispering to each other. Talking about old times in Australia when the wallabies hopped about underneath the branches and the koala bears rode piggyback on each other. Yes, I got the general idea you were in some trouble. Let's talk about it after I've had a couple of cups of coffee.
I'm always a little lightheaded when I first wake up. Let us confer with Mr. Young are two of the best. They make Huggins-Young coffee. It's their life work, their pride and joy. One of these days I'm going to see that they get the recognition they deserve. So far all they're making is money. You couldn't expect that to satisfy them. I turned the hot water on and got the coffee maker down off the shelf.
I wet the rod and measured the stuff into the top and by that time the water was steaming. I filled the lower half of the dingus and set it on the flame. I set the upper part on top and gave it a twist so it would bind. By that time he had come in after me. He leaned in the doorway a moment and then edged across to the breakfast nook and slid into the seat.
He was still shaking. I got a bottle of Old Grand-Dad off the shelf and poured him a shot in a big glass. I knew he would need a big glass. Even with that he had to use both hands to get it to his mouth, He swallowed, put the glass down with a thud, and hit the back of the seat with a jar. I turned the flame low and watched the water rise.
It hung a little at the bottom of the glass tube. I turned the flame up just enough to get it over the hump and then turned it low again quickly. I stirred the coffee and covered it. I set my tinier for three minutes. Very methodical guy, Marlowe. Nothing must interfere with his coffee technique. Not even a gun in the hand of a desperate character. I poured him another slug. I did a fast wash-up in the bathroom and the bell of the timer went just as I got back.
I cut the flame and set the coffee maker on a straw mat on the table. Why did I go into such detail? Because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand out as a performance, a movement distinct and vastly important. It was one of those hypersensitive moments when all your automatic movements, however long estab. You are like a man learning to walk after polio. You take nothing for granted, absolutely nothing at all. The coffee was all down and the air rushed in with its usual fuss and the coffee bubbled and then became quiet.
I removed the top of the maker and set it on the drainboard in the socket of the cover. I poured two cups and added a slug to his. I was coming out of it by now. I wasn't conscious of how I opened the Frig and got the cream carton. I sat down across from him. He was propped in the corner of the nook, rigid. Then without warning his head came down on the table and he was sobbing.
He didn't pay any attention when I reached across and dug the gun out of his pocket. It was a Mauser 7. I sprang the magazine loose. Nothing in the breach. He lifted his head and saw the coffee and drank some slowly, not looking at me. And the gun would have had to be cleaned. I hardly think you shot anybody with this. I refilled my cup. If you really want me to ride you down to Tijuana, there are two things I must not be told.
He was looking blank-eyed at the wall over my head. The scars were very livid this morning. His skin was almost dead white but the scars seemed to shine out of it just the same. Two, if you have essential knowledge that such a crime has been committed, I can't be told about that either. Not if you want me to drive you to Tijuana.
His eyes focused, but they were lifeless. He had the coffee inside him. He had no color, but he was steady. I poured him some more and loaded it the same way. I don't want to know what kind of jam. I have a living to earn, a license to protect. I grinned and pushed the gun across the table.
He looked down at it but didn't touch it. Not across the border, not up the steps into a plane. I'm a man who occasionally has business with guns. We'll forget about the gun. I'd look great telling the cops I was so scared I just had to do what you told me to. Supposing, of course, which I don't know, that there was anything to tell the cops. The help knows better than to disturb her when she sleeps late. But by about noon her maid would knock and go in. She wouldn't be in her room.
There's a big guest house pretty far back from the main house. It has its own driveway and garage and so on. Sylvia spent the night there. The maid would eventually find her there. Couldn't she have spent the night away from home? She never hangs anything up. The maid would know she had put a robe over her pajamas and gone out that way. So it would only be to the guest house. Hell, do you think they don't know what goes on in the guest house?
He ran a finger down the side of his good cheek hard enough to leave a red streak. Sylvia is not a souse. When she does get over the edge it's pretty drastic. The last time we drank together I was a bit rough with you, walked out if you recall. You irritated the hell out of me. Thinking it over afterwards I could see that you were just trying to sneer yourself out of a feeling of disaster. You say you have a passport and a visa. It takes a little time to get a visa to Mexico.
They don't let just anybody in. So you've been planning to blow for some time. I was wondering how long you would stick. By the way, I tried to call you in the middle of the night. I stayed a couple of hours, had a steam bath, a plunge, a needle shower, a rubdown and made a couple of phone calls from there.
I left the car at La Brea and Fountain. I walked from there. Nobody saw me turn into your street. The old man flew down to Pasadena yesterday, some business. He hadn't been to the house. I had a lot of trouble getting him.
But he finally talked to me. I told him I was sorry, but I was leaving. He wished me luck. Asked if I needed any money. Those are the first five letters of his alphabet.
I said I had plenty. Then I called Sylvia's sister. Much the same story there, That's all. It would not have been difficult. It never has been. But you went back and married her again.
I realize that she's quite a dish, but all the same-" "I told you I was no good. Hell, why did I leave her the first time? Why after that did I get stinking every time I saw her? Why did I roll in the gutter rather than ask her for money? Any one of them would go back at the crook of her finger. And not just for a million bucks. I looked at my watch.
And the Connies don't stop where I want to go. You came to me this morning in a highly emotional condition and wanted to be driven to Tijuana to catch an early plane. You had a gun in your pocket, but I needn't have seen it. You told me you had stood things as long as you could but last night you blew up. You found your wife dead drunk and a man had been with her. You gdt out and went to a Turkish bath to pass the time until morning and you phoned your wife's two dosest relatives and told them what you were doing.
Where you went was none of my business. You had the necessary documents to enter Mexico. How you went was none of my business either. We are friends and I did what you asked me without much thought. You're not paying me anything. You had your car but you felt too upset to drive yourself. That's your business too. You're an emotional guy and you got yourself a bad wound in the war.
I think I ought to pick up your car and shove it in a garage somewhere for storage. You took nothing but the clothes you stood up in and some money you had from your father-in-law, You left everything she had given you, including that beautiful piece of machinery you parked at La Brea and Fountain.
You wanted to go away as clean as it was possible for you to go and still go. Now I shave and get dressed. He still had his hat and light topcoat on. But he looked a lot more alive. I went into the bathroom and shaved. I was back in the bedroom knotting my tie when he came and stood in the doorway. Maybe it would be better if you called the police. I haven't anything to tell them. Guys like you are always sorry, and always too late. I finished dressing and locked up the back part of the house.
When I got to the living room he had fallen asleep in a chair, his head on one side, his face drained of color, his whole body slack with exhaustion. When I touched his shoulder he came awake slowly as if it was a long way from where he was to where I was.
When I had his attention I said, "What about a suitcase? I still got that white pigskin job on the top shelf in my closet. The square ceiling trap was right over my head, so I pushed that up and reached in as far as I could and dropped his leather keyholder behind one of the dusty tie beams or whatever they were.
I climbed down with the suitcase, dusted it off, and shoved some things into it, a pair of pajamas never worn, toothpaste, an extra toothbrush, a couple of cheap towels and washcloths, a package of cotton handkerchiefs, a fifteen-cent tube of shaving cream, and one of the razors they give away with a package of blades.
Nothing used, nothing marked, nothing conspicuous, except that his own stuff would be better. I added a pint of bourbon still in its wrapping paper.
I locked the suitcase and left the key in one of the locks and carried it up front. He had gone to sleep again. I opened the door without waking him and carried the suitcase down to the garage and put it in the convertible behind the front seat. I got the car out and locked the garage and went back up the steps to wake him. I finished locking up and we left. I drove fast but not fast enough to get tagged.
We hardly spoke on the way down. We didn't stop to eat either, There wasn't that much time. The border people had nothing to say to us. Up on the windy mesa where the Tijuana Airport is I parked dose to the office and just sat while Terry got his ticket. The propellers of the DC-3 were already turning over slowly, just enough to keep warm. A tall dreamboat of a pilot in a gray uniform was chatting with a group of four people. One was about six feet four and carried a gun case.
There was a girl in slacks beside him, and a smallish middle-aged man and a gray-haired woman so tall that she made him look puny. Three or four obvious Mexicans were standing around as well. That seemed to be the load. The steps were at the door but nobody seemed anxious to get in. Then a Mexican flight steward came down the steps and stood waiting. There didn't seem to be any loudspeaker equipment. The Mexicans climbed into the plane but the pilot was still chatting with the Americans.
There was a big Packard parked next to me. I got out and took a gander at the license on the post. Maybe someday I'll learn to mind my own business. As I pulled my head out I saw the tall woman staring in my direction. Then Terry came across the dusty gravel.
He looked pretty good now, just tired, just tired as all hell. I lifted the pigskin suitcase out of the Olds and put it down on the gravel. He stared at it angrily. Also some pajamas and stuff.
And it's all anonymous. If you don't want it, check it. Or throw it away," "I have reasons," he said stiffly.
Translation of "A bientôt," in English
He picked up the suitcase and squeezed my arm with his free hand. And remember, if things get tough, you have a blank check. You don't owe me a thing. We had a few drinks together and got to be friendly and I talked too much about me. I left five C notes in your coffee can. Don't be sore at me. A squatty guy with a wide dark face came out of the door of the office building and waved and pointed.
That's why I'm here. His whole body got stiff. He turned slowly, then looked back.
The readers have the chance of a different kind of learning, of understanding that coming of age can happen too soon, or not at all, or may not be a single event. The provinces may be metaphorical, the outskirts of whatever world the young man wants to join, although in Flaubert, as well as in BalzacStendhaland Dickensthey are usually quite literal.
Money unravels hierarchy, makes the changing European society open to the arrival of underprivileged young men—but not that open, for money can also keep them out or destroy them.
The story occurred in reality, Trilling suggests, before it made its way into fiction, and Rousseau and Napoleon were its visible stars: This is to say that we are invited to explore the realm of what Balzac calls illusions and Flaubert calls sentiments, where ambition and fantasy are rampant and sometimes fulfilled, where cynical advice passes as sagacity.
It is the realm of what we think we know—what some of us are sure we know—but where none of us is always right. In other words, the world we enter in adolescence and rarely ever leave. The trouble with the place is that although it provides unheard-of opportunities, it offers no guarantee in individual cases. This is as true for bad news as it is for good. If so many European novels seem to know that things will not end well, they know this for sure only because they are novels, because the choice of endings belongs to the author, not to chance or history.
And when the millionaire dies and you are set to marry into untold wealth, what could possibly go wrong? This is not a lost illusion, except in the most diffuse sense. It is a cynical fairy tale that came and went—the victim of a sentimental error, or was it a sentimental truth? In Flaubert sentiments are scarcely ever just sentiments: This is why for him—to deploy his compressed joke in a still pretty compressed way—an education of the sentiments will have to be sentimental.
Ah, there are no children nowadays. Many of these people are successful but none sees the world straight: He has his passionate moments; he stands up occasionally for the oppressed, and there are times when his horror of the venality of the conservative well-to-do overcomes him. One day, touched by what she takes to be his devotion, she agrees to meet him in secret. Out of defeated desire as well as a kind of vengeance, he sleeps with someone else in the allotted rendezvous spot.
For a long time I too thought this. And they looked back over their lives. They had both failed, one to realize his dreams of love, the other to fulfill his dreams of power. What was the reason? If they are not right, how wrong are they? And who is telling us about the way they talk and think? Deslauriers has had affairs too, is married, and has thought at least as much about his resentments and his poverty as about power.
They misunderstand their lives, but they do it with elegant clarity, and they do it together, entirely on the same deluded wavelength. How do we know the wavelength is deluded? But the question can be asked because the story is told not by an unreliable narrator—as so many stories by Henry James are, for example—but an entirely reliable laconic narrator: How do we read the trinity of easy phrases that so concisely capture the spirit of the book and, sadly, for some, the reality of growing up and old: Giraudon, The Bridgeman Art Library.
The two men are talking about something and that something is the past: Is the narrator delivering a final verdict on their lives? And if he is, does he know about their failure in the way he knows they are looking back? The difference and the invisibility team up and leave almost everything to us. Is the narrator asking us or mirroring the asking of the two men? What do we think of these options—and of having an option at all?