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    Chapter 1

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    Chapter 2
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    At the end of the Rue Guenegaud, coming from the quays, you find the
    Arcade of the Pont Neuf, a sort of narrow, dark corridor running from
    the Rue Mazarine to the Rue de Seine. This arcade, at the most, is
    thirty paces long by two in breadth. It is paved with worn, loose,
    yellowish tiles which are never free from acrid damp. The square panes
    of glass forming the roof, are black with filth.

    On fine days in the summer, when the streets are burning with heavy sun,
    whitish light falls from the dirty glazing overhead to drag miserably
    through the arcade. On nasty days in winter, on foggy mornings, the
    glass throws nothing but darkness on the sticky tiles--unclean and
    abominable gloom.

    To the left are obscure, low, dumpy shops whence issue puffs of air as
    cold as if coming from a cellar. Here are dealers in toys, cardboard
    boxes, second-hand books. The articles displayed in their windows are
    covered with dust, and owing to the prevailing darkness, can only be
    perceived indistinctly. The shop fronts, formed of small panes of glass,
    streak the goods with a peculiar greenish reflex. Beyond, behind
    the display in the windows, the dim interiors resemble a number of
    lugubrious cavities animated by fantastic forms.

    To the right, along the whole length of the arcade, extends a wall
    against which the shopkeepers opposite have stuck some small cupboards.
    Objects without a name, goods forgotten for twenty years, are spread
    out there on thin shelves painted a horrible brown colour. A dealer in
    imitation jewelry, has set up shop in one of these cupboards, and there
    sells fifteen sous rings, delicately set out on a cushion of blue velvet
    at the bottom of a mahogany box.

    Above the glazed cupboards, ascends the roughly plastered black wall,
    looking as if covered with leprosy, and all seamed with defacements.

    The Arcade of the Pont Neuf is not a place for a stroll. You take it to
    make a short cut, to gain a few minutes. It is traversed by busy
    people whose sole aim is to go quick and straight before them. You see
    apprentices there in their working-aprons, work-girls taking home their
    work, persons of both sexes with parcels under their arms. There are
    also old men who drag themselves forward in the sad gloaming that falls
    from the glazed roof, and bands of small children who come to the arcade
    on leaving school, to make a noise by stamping their feet on the tiles
    as they run along. Throughout the day a sharp hurried ring of footsteps,
    resounds on the stone with irritating irregularity. Nobody speaks,
    nobody stays there, all hurry about their business with bent heads,
    stepping out rapidly, without taking a single glance at the shops. The
    tradesmen observe with an air of alarm, the passers-by who by a miracle
    stop before their windows.

    The arcade is lit at night by three gas burners, enclosed in heavy
    square lanterns. These jets of gas, hanging from the glazed roof whereon
    they cast spots of fawn-coloured light, shed around them circles of pale
    glimmer that seem at moments to disappear. The arcade now assumes the
    aspect of a regular cut-throat alley. Great shadows stretch along the
    tiles, damp puffs of air enter from the street. Anyone might take the
    place for a subterranean gallery indistinctly lit-up by three funeral
    lamps. The tradespeople for all light are contented with the faint rays
    which the gas burners throw upon their windows. Inside their shops, they
    merely have a lamp with a shade, which they place at the corner of their
    counter, and the passer-by can then distinguish what the depths of these
    holes sheltering night in the daytime, contain. On this blackish line
    of shop fronts, the windows of a cardboard-box maker are flaming: two
    schist-lamps pierce the shadow with a couple of yellow flames. And, on
    the other side of the arcade a candle, stuck in the middle of an argand
    lamp glass, casts glistening stars into the box of imitation jewelry.
    The dealer is dozing in her cupboard, with her hands hidden under her
    shawl.

    A few years back, opposite this dealer, stood a shop whose bottle-green
    woodwork excreted damp by all its cracks. On the signboard, made of a
    long narrow plank, figured, in black letters the word: MERCERY. And on
    one of the panes of glass in the door was written, in red, the name of
    a woman: _Therese Raquin_. To right and left were deep show cases, lined
    with blue paper.

    During the daytime the eye could only distinguish the display of goods,
    in a soft, obscured light.

    On one side were a few linen articles: crimped tulle caps at two and
    three francs apiece, muslin sleeves and collars: then undervests,
    stockings, socks, braces. Each article had grown yellow and crumpled,
    and hung lamentably suspended from a wire hook. The window, from top to
    bottom, was filled in this manner with whitish bits of clothing, which
    took a lugubrious aspect in the transparent obscurity. The new caps, of
    brighter whiteness, formed hollow spots on the blue paper covering the
    shelves. And the coloured socks hanging on an iron rod, contributed
    sombre notes to the livid and vague effacement of the muslin.

    On the other side, in a narrower show case, were piled up large balls
    of green wool, white cards of black buttons, boxes of all colours and
    sizes, hair nets ornamented with steel beads, spread over rounds of
    bluish paper, fasces of knitting needles, tapestry patterns, bobbins of
    ribbon, along with a heap of soiled and faded articles, which doubtless
    had been lying in the same place for five or six years. All the tints
    had turned dirty grey in this cupboard, rotting with dust and damp.

    In summer, towards noon, when the sun scorched the squares and streets
    with its tawny rays, you could distinguish, behind the caps in the other
    window, the pale, grave profile of a young woman. This profile issued
    vaguely from the darkness reigning in the shop. To a low parched
    forehead was attached a long, narrow, pointed nose; the pale pink lips
    resembled two thin threads, and the short, nervy chin was attached
    to the neck by a line that was supple and fat. The body, lost in the
    shadow, could not be seen. The profile alone appeared in its olive
    whiteness, perforated by a large, wide-open, black eye, and as though
    crushed beneath thick dark hair. This profile remained there for hours,
    motionless and peaceful, between a couple of caps for women, whereon the
    damp iron rods had imprinted bands of rust.

    At night, when the lamp had been lit, you could see inside the shop
    which was greater in length than depth. At one end stood a small
    counter; at the other, a corkscrew staircase afforded communication
    with the rooms on the first floor. Against the walls were show cases,
    cupboards, rows of green cardboard boxes. Four chairs and a table
    completed the furniture. The shop looked bare and frigid; the goods were
    done up in parcels and put away in corners instead of lying hither and
    thither in a joyous display of colour.

    As a rule two women were seated behind the counter: the young woman with
    the grave profile, and an old lady who sat dozing with a smile on her
    countenance. The latter was about sixty; and her fat, placid face looked
    white in the brightness of the lamp. A great tabby cat, crouching at a
    corner of the counter, watched her as she slept.

    Lower down, on a chair, a man of thirty sat reading or chatting in
    a subdued voice with the young woman. He was short, delicate, and in
    manner languid. With his fair hair devoid of lustre, his sparse beard,
    his face covered with red blotches, he resembled a sickly, spoilt child
    arrived at manhood.

    Shortly before ten o'clock, the old lady awoke. The shop was then
    closed, and all the family went upstairs to bed. The tabby cat followed
    the party purring, and rubbing its head against each bar of the
    banisters.

    The lodging above comprised three apartments. The staircase led to a
    dining-room which also did duty as drawing-room. In a niche on the
    left stood a porcelain stove; opposite, a sideboard; then chairs were
    arranged along the walls, and a round table occupied the centre. At the
    further end a glazed partition concealed a dark kitchen. On each side of
    the dining-room was a sleeping apartment.

    The old lady after kissing her son and daughter-in-law withdrew. The
    cat went to sleep on a chair in the kitchen. The married couple
    entered their room, which had a second door opening on a staircase that
    communicated with the arcade by an obscure narrow passage.

    The husband who was always trembling with fever went to bed, while the
    young woman opened the window to close the shutter blinds. She remained
    there a few minutes facing the great black wall, which ascends and
    stretches above the arcade. She cast a vague wandering look upon this
    wall, and, without a word she, in her turn, went to bed in disdainful
    indifference.
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