Vexed also, both with himself and with her. He reproached himself with having been brusque and reserved. He ought to have shown himself more expansive and less restrained. But it was her fault, for she had abashed him! The incongruity between the woman who cried with voluptuous suffering in her letters and the woman he had seen, so thoroughly mistress of herself in her coquetries, was truly too much!
“However you look at them, these women are astonishing creatures,” he thought. “Here is one who accomplishes the most difficult thing you can imagine: coming to a man’s room after having written him excessive letters. I, I act like a goose. I stand there ill at ease. She, in a second, has the self-assurance of a person in her own home, or visiting in a drawing-room. No awkwardness, pretty gestures, a few words, and eyes which supply everything! She isn’t very agreeable,” he thought, reminded of the curt tone she had used when disengaging herself, “and yet she has her tender spots,” he continued dreamily, remembering not so much her words as certain inflections of her voice and a certain bewildered look in her eyes. “I must go about it prudently that night,” he concluded, addressing his cat, which, never having seen a woman before, had fled at the arrival of Mme. Chantelouve and taken refuge under the bed, but had now advanced almost grovelling, to sniff the chair where she had sat.
“Come to think of it, she is an old hand, Mme. Hyacinthe! She would not have a meeting in a cafe nor in the street. She scented from afar the assignation house or the hotel. And though, from the mere fact of my not inviting her here, she could not doubt that I did not want to introduce her to my lodging, she came here deliberately. Then, this first denial, come to think of it, is only a fine farce. If she were not seeking a liaison she would not have visited me. No, she wanted me to beg her to do what she wanted to do. Like all women, she wanted me to offer her what she desired. I have been rolled. Her arrival has knocked the props out from under my whole method. But what does it matter? She is no less desirable,” he concluded, happy to get rid of disagreeable reflections and plunge back into the delirious vision which he retained of her. “That night won’t be exactly dreary,” he thought, seeing again her eyes, imagining them in surrender, deceptive and plaintive, as he would disrobe her and make a body white and slender, warm and supple, emerge from her tight skirt. “She has no children. That is an earnest promise that her flesh is quite firm, even at thirty!”