Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "Crime does not pay ... as well as politics."

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 3

    • Rate it:
    • 2 Favorites on Read Print
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 4
    Previous Chapter
    A week after the marriage, Camille distinctly told his mother that he
    intended quitting Vernon to reside in Paris. Madame Raquin protested:
    she had arranged her mode of life, and would not modify it in any way.
    Thereupon her son had a nervous attack, and threatened to fall ill, if
    she did not give way to his whim.

    "Never have I opposed you in your plans," said he; "I married my cousin,
    I took all the drugs you gave me. It is only natural, now, when I have
    a desire of my own, that you should be of the same mind. We will move at
    the end of the month."

    Madame Raquin was unable to sleep all night. The decision Camille had
    come to, upset her way of living, and, in despair, she sought to arrange
    another existence for herself and the married couple. Little by little,
    she recovered calm. She reflected that the young people might have
    children, and that her small fortune would not then suffice. It was
    necessary to earn money, to go into business again, to find lucrative
    occupation for Therese. The next day she had become accustomed to the
    idea of moving, and had arranged a plan for a new life.

    At luncheon she was quite gay.

    "This is what we will do," said she to her children. "I will go to Paris
    to-morrow. There I will look out for a small mercery business for sale,
    and Therese and myself will resume selling needles and cotton, which
    will give us something to do. You, Camille, will act as you like. You
    can either stroll about in the sun, or you can find some employment."

    "I shall find employment," answered the young man.

    The truth was that an idiotic ambition had alone impelled Camille to
    leave Vernon. He wished to find a post in some important administration.
    He blushed with delight when he fancied he saw himself in the middle of
    a large office, with lustring elbow sleeves, and a pen behind his ear.

    Therese was not consulted: she had always displayed such passive
    obedience that her aunt and husband no longer took the trouble to ask
    her opinion. She went where they went, she did what they did, without a
    complaint, without a reproach, without appearing even to be aware that
    she changed her place of residence.

    Madame Raquin came to Paris, and went straight to the Arcade of the Pont
    Neuf. An old maid at Vernon had sent her to one of her relatives who
    in this arcade kept a mercery shop which she desired to get rid of.
    The former mercer found the shop rather small, and rather dark; but,
    in passing through Paris, she had been taken aback by the noise in the
    streets, by the luxuriously dressed windows, and this narrow gallery,
    this modest shop front, recalled her former place of business which was
    so peaceful. She could fancy herself again in the provinces, and she
    drew a long breath thinking that her dear children would be happy in
    this out-of-the-way corner. The low price asked for the business, caused
    her to make up her mind. The owner sold it her for 2,000 francs, and the
    rent of the shop and first floor was only 1,200 francs a year. Madame
    Raquin, who had close upon 4,000 francs saved up, calculated that she
    could pay for the business and settle the rent for the first year,
    without encroaching on her fortune. The salary Camille would be
    receiving, and the profit on the mercery business would suffice, she
    thought, to meet the daily expenses; so that she need not touch the
    income of her funded money, which would capitalise, and go towards
    providing marriage portions for her grandchildren.

    She returned to Vernon beaming with pleasure, relating that she had
    found a gem, a delightful little place right in the centre of Paris.
    Little by little, at the end of a few days, in her conversations of
    an evening, the damp, obscure shop in the arcade became a palace; she
    pictured it to herself, so far as her memory served her, as convenient,
    spacious, tranquil, and replete with a thousand inestimable advantages.

    "Ah! my dear Therese," said she, "you will see how happy we shall be in
    that nook! There are three beautiful rooms upstairs. The arcade is
    full of people. We will make charming displays. There is no fear of our
    feeling dull."

    But she did not stop there. All her instinct of a former shopkeeper
    was awakened. She gave advice to Therese, beforehand, as to buying and
    selling, and posted her up in all the tricks of small tradespeople.
    At length, the family quitted the house beside the Seine, and on the
    evening of the same day, were installed in the Arcade of the Pont Neuf.

    When Therese entered the shop, where in future she was to live, it
    seemed to her that she was descending into the clammy soil of a grave.
    She felt quite disheartened, and shivered with fear. She looked at the
    dirty, damp gallery, visited the shop, and ascending to the first floor,
    walked round each room. These bare apartments, without furniture, looked
    frightful in their solitude and dilapidation. The young woman could
    not make a gesture, or utter a word. She was as if frozen. Her aunt and
    husband having come downstairs, she seated herself on a trunk, her hands
    rigid, her throat full of sobs, and yet she could not cry.

    Madame Raquin, face to face with reality, felt embarrassed, and ashamed
    of her dreams. She sought to defend her acquisition. She found a remedy
    for every fresh inconvenience that was discovered, explaining the
    obscurity by saying the weather was overcast, and concluded by affirming
    that a sweep-up would suffice to set everything right.

    "Bah!" answered Camille, "all this is quite suitable. Besides, we shall
    only come up here at night. I shall not be home before five or six
    o'clock. As to you two, you will be together, so you will not be dull."

    The young man would never have consented to inhabit such a den, had
    he not relied on the comfort of his office. He said to himself that
    he would be warm all day at his administration, and that, at night, he
    would go to bed early.

    For a whole week, the shop and lodging remained in disorder. Therese had
    seated herself behind the counter from the first day, and she did not
    move from that place. Madame Raquin was astonished at this depressed
    attitude. She had thought that the young woman would try to adorn her
    habitation. That she would place flowers at the windows, and ask for new
    papers, curtains and carpets. When she suggested some repairs, some kind
    of embellishment, her niece quietly replied:

    "What need is there for it? We are very well as we are. There is no
    necessity for luxury."

    It was Madame Raquin who had to arrange the rooms and tidy up the shop.
    Therese at last lost patience at seeing the good old lady incessantly
    turning round and round before her eyes; she engaged a charwoman, and
    forced her aunt to be seated beside her.

    Camille remained a month without finding employment. He lived as little
    as possible in the shop, preferring to stroll about all day; and he
    found life so dreadfully dull with nothing to do, that he spoke
    of returning to Vernon. But he at length obtained a post in the
    administration of the Orleans Railway, where he earned 100 francs a
    month. His dream had become realised.

    He set out in the morning at eight o'clock. Walking down the Rue
    Guenegaud, he found himself on the quays. Then, taking short steps with
    his hands in his pockets, he followed the Seine from the Institut to the
    Jardin des Plantes. This long journey which he performed twice daily,
    never wearied him. He watched the water running along, and he stopped
    to see the rafts of wood descending the river, pass by. He thought of
    nothing. Frequently he planted himself before Notre Dame, to contemplate
    the scaffolding surrounding the cathedral which was then undergoing
    repair. These huge pieces of timber amused him although he failed to
    understand why. Then he cast a glance into the Port aux Vins as he went
    past, and after that counted the cabs coming from the station.

    In the evening, quite stupefied, with his head full of some silly story
    related to his office, he crossed the Jardin des Plantes, and went to
    have a look at the bears, if he was not in too great a hurry. There he
    remained half an hour, leaning over the rails at the top of the pit,
    observing the animals clumsily swaying to and fro. The behaviour of
    these huge beasts pleased him. He examined them with gaping mouth and
    rounded eyes, partaking of the joy of an idiot when he perceived them
    bestir themselves. At last he turned homewards, dragging his feet along,
    busying himself with the passers-by, with the vehicles, and the shops.

    As soon as he arrived he dined, and then began reading. He had purchased
    the works of Buffon, and, every evening, he set himself to peruse twenty
    to thirty pages, notwithstanding the wearisome nature of the task. He
    also read in serial, at 10 centimes the number, "The History of the
    Consulate and Empire" by Thiers, and "The History of the Girondins" by
    Lamartine, as well as some popular scientific works. He fancied he was
    labouring at his education. At times, he forced his wife to listen to
    certain pages, to particular anecdotes, and felt very much astonished
    that Therese could remain pensive and silent the whole evening, without
    being tempted to take up a book. And he thought to himself that his wife
    must be a woman of very poor intelligence.

    Therese thrust books away from her with impatience. She preferred to
    remain idle, with her eyes fixed, and her thoughts wandering and lost.
    But she maintained an even, easy temper, exercising all her will to
    render herself a passive instrument, replete with supreme complaisance
    and abnegation.

    The shop did not do much business. The profit was the same regularly
    each month. The customers consisted of female workpeople living in the
    neighbourhood. Every five minutes a young girl came in to purchase a few
    sous worth of goods. Therese served the people with words that were ever
    the same, with a smile that appeared mechanically on her lisp. Madame
    Raquin displayed a more unbending, a more gossipy disposition, and, to
    tell the truth, it was she who attracted and retained the customers.

    For three years, days followed days and resembled one another. Camille
    did not once absent himself from his office. His mother and wife hardly
    ever left the shop. Therese, residing in damp obscurity, in gloomy,
    crushing silence, saw life expand before her in all its nakedness, each
    night bringing the same cold couch, and each morn the same empty day.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 4
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Emile Zola essay and need some advice, post your Emile Zola essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?