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    Chapter 9

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    Chapter 10
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    One afternoon, as Laurent was leaving his office to run and meet Therese
    who was expecting him, his chief gave him to understand that in future
    he was forbidden to absent himself. He had taken too many holidays
    already, and the authorities had decided to dismiss him if he again went
    out in office hours.

    Riveted to his chair, he remained in despair until eventide. He had to
    earn his living, and dared not lose his place. At night the wrathful
    countenance of Therese was a torture to him, and he was unable to find
    an opportunity to explain to her how it was he had broken his word. At
    length, as Camille was putting up the shutters, he briskly approached
    the young woman, to murmur in an undertone:

    "We shall be unable to see one another any more. My chief refuses to
    give me permission to go out."

    Camille came into the shop, and Laurent was obliged to withdraw without
    giving any further information, leaving Therese under the disagreeable
    influence of this abrupt and unpleasant announcement. Exasperated at
    anyone daring to interfere with her delectation, she passed a sleepless
    night, arranging extravagant plans for a meeting with her sweetheart.
    The following Thursday, she spoke with Laurent for a minute at the most.
    Their anxiety was all the keener as they did not know where to meet
    for the purpose of consulting and coming to an understanding. The young
    woman, on this occasion, gave her sweetheart another appointment which
    for the second time he failed to keep, and she then had but one fixed
    idea--to see him at any cost.

    For a fortnight Laurent was unable to speak to Therese alone, and he
    then felt how necessary this woman had become to his existence. Far
    from experiencing any uneasiness, as formerly, at the kisses which his
    ladylove showered on him, he now sought her embraces with the obstinacy
    of a famished animal. A sanguineous passion had lurked in his muscles,
    and now that his sweetheart was taken from him, this passion burst out
    in blind violence. He was madly in love. This thriving brutish nature
    seemed unconscious in everything. He obeyed his instincts, permitting
    the will of his organism to lead him.

    A year before, he would have burst into laughter, had he been told
    he would become the slave of a woman, to the point of risking his
    tranquillity. The hidden forces of lust that had brought about this
    result had been secretly proceeding within him, to end by casting him,
    bound hand and foot, into the arms of Therese. At this hour, he was in
    dread lest he should omit to be prudent. He no longer dared go of an
    evening to the shop in the Arcade of the Pont Neuf lest he should commit
    some folly. He no longer belonged to himself. His ladylove, with her
    feline suppleness, her nervous flexibility, had glided, little by
    little, into each fibre of his body. This woman was as necessary to his
    life as eating and drinking.

    He would certainly have committed some folly, had he not received a
    letter from Therese, asking him to remain at home the following evening.
    His sweetheart promised him to call about eight o'clock.

    On quitting the office, he got rid of Camille by saying he was tired,
    and should go to bed at once. Therese, after dinner, also played her
    part. She mentioned a customer who had moved without paying her, and
    acting the indignant creditor who would listen to nothing, declared that
    she intended calling on her debtor with the view of asking for payment
    of the money that was due. The customer now lived at Batignolles. Madame
    Raquin and Camille considered this a long way to go, and thought it
    doubtful whether the journey would have a satisfactory result; but they
    expressed no surprise, and allowed Therese to set out on her errand in
    all tranquillity.

    The young woman ran to the Port aux Vins, gliding over the slippery
    pavement, and knocking up against the passers-by, in her hurry to reach
    her destination. Beads of perspiration covered her face, and her hands
    were burning. Anyone might have taken her for a drunken woman. She
    rapidly ascended the staircase of the hotel, and on reaching the sixth
    floor, out of breath, and with wandering eyes, she perceived Laurent,
    who was leaning over the banister awaiting her.

    She entered the garret, which was so small that she could barely turn
    round in it, and tearing off her hat with one hand leant against the
    bedstead in a faint. Through the lift-up window in the roof, which was
    wide open, the freshness of the evening fell upon the burning couch.

    The couple remained some time in this wretched little room, as though
    at the bottom of a hole. All at once, Therese heard a clock in the
    neighbourhood strike ten. She felt as if she would have liked to have
    been deaf. Nevertheless, she looked for her hat which she fastened to
    her hair with a long pin, and then seating herself, slowly murmured:

    "I must go."

    Laurent fell on his knees before her, and took her hands.

    "Good-bye, till we see each other again," said she, without moving.

    "No, not till we see each other again!" he exclaimed, "that is too
    indefinite. When will you come again?"

    She looked him full in the face.

    "Do you wish me to be frank with you?" she inquired. "Well, then, to
    tell you the truth, I think I shall come no more. I have no pretext, and
    I cannot invent one."

    "Then we must say farewell," he remarked.

    "No, I will not do that!" she answered.

    She pronounced these words in terrified anger. Then she added more
    gently, without knowing what she was saying, and without moving from her
    chair:

    "I am going."

    Laurent reflected. He was thinking of Camille.

    "I wish him no harm," said he at length, without pronouncing the name:
    "but really he is too much in our way. Couldn't you get rid of him, send
    him on a journey somewhere, a long way off?"

    "Ah! yes, send him on a journey!" resumed the young woman, nodding her
    head. "And do you imagine a man like that would consent to travel? There
    is only one journey, that from which you never return. But he will bury
    us all. People who are at their last breath, never die."

    Then came a silence which was broken by Laurent who remarked:

    "I had a day dream. Camille met with an accident and died, and I became
    your husband. Do you understand?"

    "Yes, yes," answered Therese, shuddering.

    Then, abruptly bending over the face of Laurent, she smothered it with
    kisses, and bursting into sobs, uttered these disjoined sentences amidst
    her tears:

    "Don't talk like that, for if you do, I shall lack the strength to leave
    you. I shall remain here. Give me courage rather. Tell me we shall see
    one another again. You have need of me, have you not? Well, one of these
    days we shall find a way to live together."

    "Then come back, come back to-morrow," said Laurent.

    "But I cannot return," she answered. "I have told you. I have no
    pretext."

    She wrung her hands and continued:

    "Oh! I do not fear the scandal. If you like, when I get back, I will
    tell Camille you are my sweetheart, and return here. I am trembling for
    you. I do not wish to disturb your life. I want to make you happy."

    The prudent instincts of the young man were awakened.

    "You are right," said he. "We must not behave like children. Ah! if your
    husband were to die!"

    "If my husband were to die," slowly repeated Therese.

    "We would marry," he continued, "and have nothing more to fear. What a
    nice, gentle life it would be!"

    The young woman stood up erect. Her cheeks were pale, and she looked at
    her sweetheart with a clouded brow, while her lips were twitching.

    "Sometimes people die," she murmured at last. "Only it is dangerous for
    those who survive."

    Laurent did not reply.

    "You see," she continued, "all the methods that are known are bad."

    "You misunderstood me," said he quietly. "I am not a fool, I wish to
    love you in peace. I was thinking that accidents happen daily, that a
    foot may slip, a tile may fall. You understand. In the latter event, the
    wind alone is guilty."

    He spoke in a strange voice. Then he smiled, and added in a caressing
    tone:

    "Never mind, keep quiet. We will love one another fondly, and live
    happily. As you are unable to come here, I will arrange matters. Should
    we remain a few months without seeing one another, do not forget me, and
    bear in mind that I am labouring for your felicity."

    As Therese opened the door to leave, he seized her in his arms.

    "You are mine, are you not?" he continued. "You swear to belong to me,
    at any hour, when I choose."

    "Yes!" exclaimed the young woman. "I am yours, do as you please with
    me."

    For a moment they remained locked together and mute. Then Therese tore
    herself roughly away, and, without turning her head, quitted the garret
    and went downstairs. Laurent listened to the sound of her footsteps
    fading away.

    When he heard the last of them, he returned to his wretched room, and
    went to bed. The sheets were still warm. Without closing the window,
    he lay on his back, his arms bare, his hands open, exposed to the fresh
    air. And he reflected, with his eyes on the dark blue square that the
    window framed in the sky.

    He turned the same idea over in his head until daybreak. Previous to the
    visit of Therese, the idea of murdering Camille had not occurred to him.
    He had spoken of the death of this man, urged to do so by the facts,
    irritated at the thought that he would be unable to meet his sweetheart
    any more. And it was thus that a new corner of his unconscious nature
    came to be revealed.

    Now that he was more calm, alone in the middle of the peaceful night, he
    studied the murder. The idea of death, blurted out in despair between a
    couple of kisses, returned implacable and keen. Racked by insomnia, and
    unnerved by the visit of Therese, he calculated the disadvantages and
    the advantages of his becoming an assassin.

    All his interests urged him to commit the crime. He said to himself that
    as his father, the Jeufosse peasant, could not make up his mind to die,
    he would perhaps have to remain a clerk another ten years, eating in
    cheap restaurants, and living in a garret. This idea exasperated him. On
    the other hand, if Camille were dead, he would marry Therese, he would
    inherit from Madame Raquin, resign his clerkship, and saunter about in
    the sun. Then, he took pleasure in dreaming of this life of idleness; he
    saw himself with nothing to do, eating and sleeping, patiently awaiting
    the death of his father. And when the reality arose in the middle of his
    dream, he ran up against Camille, and clenched his fists to knock him
    down.

    Laurent desired Therese; he wanted her for himself alone, to have her
    always within reach. If he failed to make the husband disappear, the
    woman would escape him. She had said so: she could not return. He would
    have eloped with her, carried her off somewhere, but then both would
    die of hunger. He risked less in killing the husband. There would be
    no scandal. He would simply push a man away to take his place. In his
    brutal logic of a peasant, he found this method excellent and natural.
    His innate prudence even advised this rapid expedient.

    He grovelled on his bed, in perspiration, flat on his stomach, with his
    face against the pillow, and he remained there breathless, stifling,
    seeing lines of fire pass along his closed eyelids. He asked himself how
    he would kill Camille. Then, unable to breathe any more, he turned round
    at a bound to resume his position on his back, and with his eyes wide
    open, received full in the face, the puffs of cold air from the window,
    seeking in the stars, in the bluish square of sky, a piece of advice
    about murder, a plan of assassination.

    And he found nothing. As he had told his ladylove, he was neither a
    child nor a fool. He wanted neither a dagger nor poison. What he sought
    was a subtle crime, one that could be accomplished without danger; a
    sort of sinister suffocation, without cries and without terror, a simple
    disappearance. Passion might well stir him, and urge him forward; all
    his being imperiously insisted on prudence. He was too cowardly, too
    voluptuous to risk his tranquillity. If he killed, it would be for a
    calm and happy life.

    Little by little slumber overcame him. Fatigued and appeased, he sank
    into a sort of gentle and uncertain torpor. As he fell asleep, he
    decided he would await a favourable opportunity, and his thoughts,
    fleeting further and further away, lulled him to rest with the murmur:

    "I will kill him, I will kill him."

    Five minutes later, he was at rest, breathing with serene regularity.

    Therese returned home at eleven o'clock, with a burning head, and her
    thoughts strained, reaching the Arcade of the Pont Neuf unconscious
    of the road she had taken. It seemed to her that she had just come
    downstairs from her visit to Laurent, so full were her ears of the words
    she had recently heard. She found Madame Raquin and Camille anxious and
    attentive; but she answered their questions sharply, saying she had
    been on a fools' errand, and had waited an hour on the pavement for an
    omnibus.

    When she got into bed, she found the sheets cold and damp. Her limbs,
    which were still burning, shuddered with repugnance. Camille soon
    fell asleep, and for a long time Therese watched his wan face reposing
    idiotically on the pillow, with his mouth wide open. Therese drew away
    from her husband. She felt a desire to drive her clenched fist into that
    mouth.
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    Chapter 10
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