A Man in Uniform
Maitre Dubon lifted his gaze from Madeleine's right breast, which was peeking out tantalizingly from under a crisp white sheet, and let it travel slowly down the bed, admiring as he did so how the draped cotton clung to her body in some places and obscured it in others. He glanced across the room and let his eye come to rest, ever so casually, on the ornate gilt clock that sat atop the dresser. It was twenty minutes before the hour.
"Well, perhaps it's time we get dressed." Still leaning back against the pillows, he waited a long moment before he made up his mind to move, and then took the plunge, pulling the sheet off his own body, swinging his feet to the floor and standing.
Beside him, Madeleine stirred and stretched an arm languidly across the bed toward an armchair. Dubon crossed over to it, picked up the peignoir that was lying there, and held it open for her. As she rose to her feet, she slipped her arms into it, drawing the fluttering layers of its wide lace collar over her shoulders and around her neck. He moved to his clothes, pulling on his undershirt, shirt, pants, and waistcoat, buttoning buttons as he did so, methodically but with no apparent haste. He turned to a full-length mirror that stood in one corner of the room and straightened his tie approvingly. Though only of average height, he had a big head, and a finely shaped nose, straight but for the sharp break that formed a little shelf at the bridge, and his features gave him presence. His hair was still good and thick, he always noted with pleasure, and the occasional strand of silver that now appeared at the temples added an air of distinction.
He picked up his jacket. "See you tomorrow, my dear."
"Until tomorrow," she replied. He kissed her affectionately on one cheek, gently patted the other, and left her padding about her small apartment in her peignoir and little satin slippers as he stepped calmly into the street. It was fifteen minutes to the hour.
Maitre Dubon's day was a well-ordered thing. Its final goal, which the lawyer achieved without fail, was a seven-thirty dinner hour during which he shared a light meal with his wife, Genevieve, and his son, Andre. He also breakfasted with them at seven, and most days joined them for a large lunch at eleven, for he thought of himself as a family man and considered it his duty to eat three meals a day in the company of his wife and son, a duty he executed with affection.
From the breakfast table, he proceeded to the office, a pleasant walk, if the weather was fine, along the river and across the place de la Concorde to the rue Saint-Honore, and so to his clients, who would visit him before lunch. They were prosperous burghers and people of society, and he drafted their wills and their contracts with diligence if no particular enthusiasm. The practice he had inherited from his father represented a limited set of legal permutations that he had long since mastered. The thrusts and parries of the courtroom, on the other hand, he left to others, simply passing on to a colleague the occasional unfortunate case that was headed in that direction. Returning home for lunch, he tried not to dally at the table and allowed himself only a single glass of wine, because after a few more hours in the office preparing documents and reviewing files, he would proceed to an engagement rather different from the dinner hour but to which he was equally faithful.
Between five and seven, Maitre Dubon visited Mademoiselle Madeleine Marteau in her apartment off the boulevard des Italiens. He had been visiting her there five days a week for the past eleven years, ever since he had rented the apartment for her in the seventh year of his...
"An awfully enjoyable romp. Taylor writes clearly and transparently, leaving nothing to abstraction. The book moves along at such an admirable clip that it's hard to believe it won't carry on without you if you dare put it down."
- Globe and Mail "A literate thriller....Today, the Dreyfus Affair continues to serve as a bracing reminder ...that we dare not have blind faith in the willingness of our leaders to defend our most cherished rights and freedoms. Taylor's engaging novel, in creating a detailed historical world, reminds us of that ever-present danger."
- Elle "Taylor's twisting plot is rich in romance and disturbing in its implications about the fragility of human rights."
PublisherCrown Publishing Group
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