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    Chapter 5

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    Chapter 6
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    One Thursday, Camille, on returning from his office, brought with him a
    great fellow with square shoulders, whom he pushed in a familiar manner
    into the shop.

    "Mother," he said to Madame Raquin, pointing to the newcomer, "do you
    recognise this gentleman?"

    The old mercer looked at the strapping blade, seeking among her
    recollections and finding nothing, while Therese placidly observed the

    "What!" resumed Camille, "you don't recognise Laurent, little Laurent,
    the son of daddy Laurent who owns those beautiful fields of corn out
    Jeufosse way. Don't you remember? I went to school with him; he came
    to fetch me of a morning on leaving the house of his uncle, who was our
    neighbour, and you used to give him slices of bread and jam."

    All at once Madame Raquin recollected little Laurent, whom she found
    very much grown. It was quite ten years since she had seen him. She now
    did her best to make him forget her lapse of memory in greeting him,
    by recalling a thousand little incidents of the past, and by adopting a
    wheedling manner towards him that was quite maternal. Laurent had seated
    himself. With a peaceful smile on his lips, he replied to the questions
    addressed to him in a clear voice, casting calm and easy glances around

    "Just imagine," said Camille, "this joker has been employed at the
    Orleans-Railway-Station for eighteen months, and it was only to-night
    that we met and recognised one another--the administration is so vast,
    so important!"

    As the young man made this remark, he opened his eyes wider, and pinched
    his lips, proud to be a humble wheel in such a large machine. Shaking
    his head, he continued:

    "Oh! but he is in a good position. He has studied. He already earns
    1,500 francs a year. His father sent him to college. He had read for the
    bar, and learnt painting. That is so, is it not, Laurent? You'll dine
    with us?"

    "I am quite willing," boldly replied the other.

    He got rid of his hat and made himself comfortable in the shop,
    while Madame Raquin ran off to her stewpots. Therese, who had not yet
    pronounced a word, looked at the new arrival. She had never seen such a
    man before. Laurent, who was tall and robust, with a florid complexion,
    astonished her. It was with a feeling akin to admiration, that she
    contemplated his low forehead planted with coarse black hair, his full
    cheeks, his red lips, his regular features of sanguineous beauty. For
    an instant her eyes rested on his neck, a neck that was thick and short,
    fat and powerful. Then she became lost in the contemplation of his great
    hands which he kept spread out on his knees: the fingers were square;
    the clenched fist must be enormous and would fell an ox.

    Laurent was a real son of a peasant, rather heavy in gait, with an
    arched back, with movements that were slow and precise, and an
    obstinate tranquil manner. One felt that his apparel concealed round and
    well-developed muscles, and a body of thick hard flesh. Therese examined
    him with curiosity, glancing from his fists to his face, and experienced
    little shivers when her eyes fell on his bull-like neck.

    Camille spread out his Buffon volumes, and his serials at 10 centimes
    the number, to show his friend that he also studied. Then, as if
    answering an inquiry he had been making of himself for some minutes, he
    said to Laurent:

    "But, surely you must know my wife? Don't you remember that little
    cousin who used to play with us at Vernon?"

    "I had no difficulty in recognising Madame," answered Laurent, looking
    Therese full in the face.

    This penetrating glance troubled the young woman, who, nevertheless,
    gave a forced smile, and after exchanging a few words with Laurent and
    her husband, hurried away to join her aunt, feeling ill at ease.

    As soon as they had seated themselves at table, and commenced the soup,
    Camille thought it right to be attentive to his friend.

    "How is your father?" he inquired.

    "Well, I don't know," answered Laurent. "We are not on good terms; we
    ceased corresponding five years ago."

    "Bah!" exclaimed the clerk, astonished at such a monstrosity.

    "Yes," continued the other, "the dear man has ideas of his own. As he
    is always at law with his neighbours, he sent me to college, in the fond
    hope that later on, he would find in me an advocate who would win him
    all his actions. Oh! daddy Laurent has naught but useful ambitions; he
    even wants to get something out of his follies."

    "And you wouldn't be an advocate?" inquired Camille, more and more

    "Faith, no," answered his friend with a smile. "For a couple of years
    I pretended to follow the classes, so as to draw the allowance of 1,200
    francs which my father made me. I lived with one of my college chums,
    who is a painter, and I set about painting also. It amused me. The
    calling is droll, and not at all fatiguing. We smoked and joked all the
    livelong day."

    The Raquin family opened their eyes in amazement.

    "Unfortunately," continued Laurent, "this could not last. My father
    found out that I was telling him falsehoods. He stopped my 100 francs
    a month, and invited me to return and plough the land with him. I then
    tried to paint pictures on religious subjects which proved bad business.
    As I could plainly see that I was going to die of hunger, I sent art to
    the deuce and sought employment. My father will die one of these days,
    and I am waiting for that event to live and do nothing."

    Laurent spoke in a tranquil tone. In a few words he had just related a
    characteristic tale that depicted him at full length. In reality he was
    an idle fellow, with the appetite of a full-blooded man for everything,
    and very pronounced ideas as to easy and lasting employment. The only
    ambition of this great powerful frame was to do nothing, to grovel in
    idleness and satiation from hour to hour. He wanted to eat well, sleep
    well, to abundantly satisfy his passions, without moving from his place,
    without running the risk of the slightest fatigue.

    The profession of advocate had terrified him, and he shuddered at
    the idea of tilling the soil. He had plunged into art, hoping to find
    therein a calling suitable to an idle man. The paint-brush struck him
    as being an instrument light to handle, and he fancied success easy.
    His dream was a life of cheap sensuality, a beautiful existence full of
    houris, of repose on divans, of victuals and intoxication.

    The dream lasted so long as daddy Laurent sent the crown pieces. But
    when the young man, who was already thirty, perceived the wolf at the
    door, he began to reflect. Face to face with privations, he felt himself
    a coward. He would not have accepted a day without bread, for the utmost
    glory art could bestow. As he had said himself, he sent art to the
    deuce, as soon as he recognised that it would never suffice to satisfy
    his numerous requirements. His first efforts had been below mediocrity;
    his peasant eyes caught a clumsy, slovenly view of nature; his muddy,
    badly drawn, grimacing pictures, defied all criticism.

    But he did not seem to have an over-dose of vanity for an artist; he was
    not in dire despair when he had to put aside his brushes. All he really
    regretted was the vast studio of his college chum, where he had been
    voluptuously grovelling for four or five years. He also regretted the
    women who came to pose there. Nevertheless he found himself at ease in
    his position as clerk; he lived very well in a brutish fashion, and he
    was fond of this daily task, which did not fatigue him, and soothed
    his mind. Still one thing irritated him: the food at the eighteen sous
    ordinaries failed to appease the gluttonous appetite of his stomach.

    As Camille listened to his friend, he contemplated him with all the
    astonishment of a simpleton. This feeble man was dreaming, in a childish
    manner, of this studio life which his friend had been alluding to, and
    he questioned Laurent on the subject.

    "So," said he, "there were lady models who posed before you in the

    "Oh! yes," answered Laurent with a smile, and looking at Therese, who
    had turned deadly pale.

    "You must have thought that very funny," continued Camille, laughing
    like a child. "It would have made me feel most awkward. I expect you
    were quite scandalised the first time it happened."

    Laurent had spread out one of his great hands and was attentively
    looking at the palm. His fingers gave slight twitches, and his cheeks
    became flushed.

    "The first time," he answered, as if speaking to himself, "I fancy I
    thought it quite natural. This devilish art is exceedingly amusing, only
    it does not bring in a sou. I had a red-haired girl as model who was
    superb, firm white flesh, gorgeous bust, hips as wide as . . ."

    Laurent, raising his head, saw Therese mute and motionless opposite,
    gazing at him with ardent fixedness. Her dull black eyes seemed like
    two fathomless holes, and through her parted lips could be perceived the
    rosy tint of the inside of her mouth. She seemed as if overpowered by
    what she heard, and lost in thought. She continued listening.

    Laurent looked from Therese to Camille, and the former painter
    restrained a smile. He completed his phrase by a broad voluptuous
    gesture, which the young woman followed with her eyes. They were at
    dessert, and Madame Raquin had just run downstairs to serve a customer.

    When the cloth was removed Laurent, who for some minutes had been
    thoughtful, turned to Camille.

    "You know," he blurted out, "I must paint your portrait."

    This idea delighted Madame Raquin and her son, but Therese remained

    "It is summer-time," resumed Laurent, "and as we leave the office at
    four o'clock, I can come here, and let you give me a sitting for a
    couple of hours in the evening. The picture will be finished in a week."

    "That will be fine," answered Camille, flushed with joy. "You shall dine
    with us. I will have my hair curled, and put on my black frock coat."

    Eight o'clock struck. Grivet and Michaud made their entry. Olivier and
    Suzanne arrived behind them.

    When Camille introduced his friend to the company, Grivet pinched his
    lips. He detested Laurent whose salary, according to his idea, had risen
    far too rapidly. Besides, the introduction of a new-comer was quite an
    important matter, and the guests of the Raquins could not receive an
    individual unknown to them, without some display of coldness.

    Laurent behaved very amicably. He grasped the situation, and did his
    best to please the company, so as to make himself acceptable to them at
    once. He related anecdotes, enlivened the party by his merry laughter,
    and even won the friendship of Grivet.

    That evening Therese made no attempt to go down to the shop. She
    remained seated on her chair until eleven o'clock, playing and talking,
    avoiding the eyes of Laurent, who for that matter did not trouble
    himself about her. The sanguineous temperament of this strapping fellow,
    his full voice and jovial laughter, troubled the young woman and threw
    her into a sort of nervous anguish.
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    Chapter 6
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