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    Chapter 12

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    Chapter 13
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    Laurent, in the dark corner of the omnibus that took him back to Paris,
    continued perfecting his plan. He was almost certain of impunity, and
    he felt heavy, anxious joy, the joy of having got over the crime. On
    reaching the gate at Clichy, he hailed a cab, and drove to the residence
    of old Michaud in the Rue de Seine. It was nine o'clock at night when he
    arrived.

    He found the former commissary of police at table, in the company of
    Olivier and Suzanne. The motive of his visit was to seek protection, in
    case he should be suspected, and also to escape breaking the frightful
    news to Madame Raquin himself. Such an errand was strangely repugnant to
    him. He anticipated encountering such terrible despair that he feared he
    would be unable to play his part with sufficient tears. Then the grief
    of this mother weighed upon him, although at the bottom of his heart, he
    cared but little about it.

    When Michaud saw him enter, clothed in coarse-looking garments that were
    too tight for him, he questioned him with his eyes, and Laurent gave an
    account of the accident in a broken voice, as if exhausted with grief
    and fatigue.

    "I have come to you," said he in conclusion, "because I do not know what
    to do about the two poor women so cruelly afflicted. I dare not go to
    the bereaved mother alone, and want you to accompany me."

    As he spoke, Olivier looked at him fixedly, and with so straight a
    glance that he terrified him. The murderer had flung himself head down
    among these people belonging to the police, with an audacity calculated
    to save him. But he could not repress a shudder as he felt their eyes
    examining him. He saw distrust where there was naught but stupor and
    pity.

    Suzanne weaker and paled than usual, seemed ready to faint. Olivier, who
    was alarmed at the idea of death, but whose heart remained absolutely
    cold, made a grimace expressing painful surprise, while by habit
    he scrutinised the countenance of Laurent, without having the least
    suspicion of the sinister truth. As to old Michaud, he uttered
    exclamations of fright, commiseration, and astonishment; he fidgeted
    on his chair, joined his hands together, and cast up his eyes to the
    ceiling.

    "Ah! good heavens," said he in a broken voice, "ah! good heavens, what
    a frightful thing! To leave one's home, and die, like that, all of a
    sudden. It's horrible. And that poor Madame Raquin, his mother, whatever
    shall we say to her? Certainly, you were quite right to come and find
    us. We will go with you."

    Rising from his seat, he walked hither and thither about the apartment,
    stamping with his feet, in search of his hat and walking-stick; and, as
    he bustled from corner to corner, he made Laurent repeat the details of
    the catastrophe, giving utterance to fresh exclamations at the end of
    each sentence.

    At last all four went downstairs. On reaching the entrance to the Arcade
    of the Pont Neuf, Laurent was stopped by Michaud.

    "Do not accompany us any further," said he; "your presence would be a
    sort of brutal avowal which must be avoided. The wretched mother would
    suspect a misfortune, and this would force us to confess the truth
    sooner than we ought to tell it to her. Wait for us here."

    This arrangement relieved the murderer, who shuddered at the thought
    of entering the shop in the arcade. He recovered his calm, and began
    walking up and down the pavement, going and coming, in perfect peace of
    mind. At moments, he forgot the events that were passing. He looked at
    the shops, whistled between his teeth, turned round to ogle the women
    who brushed past him. He remained thus for a full half-hour in the
    street, recovering his composure more and more.

    He had not eaten since the morning, and feeling hungry he entered a
    pastrycook's and stuffed himself with cakes.

    A heartrending scene was passing at the shop in the arcade.
    Notwithstanding precautions, notwithstanding the soft, friendly
    sentences of old Michaud, there came a moment when Madame Raquin
    understood that her son had met with misfortune. From that moment,
    she insisted on knowing the truth with such a passionate outburst of
    despair, with such a violent flow of tears and shrieks, that her old
    friend could not avoid giving way to her.

    And when she learnt the truth, her grief was tragic. She gave hollow
    sobs, she received shocks that threw her backward, in a distracting
    attack of terror and anguish. She remained there choking, uttering
    from time to time a piercing scream amidst the profound roar of her
    affliction. She would have dragged herself along the ground, had not
    Suzanne taken her round the waist, weeping on her knees, and raising
    her pale countenance towards her. Olivier and his father on their feet,
    unnerved and mute, turned aside their heads, being disagreeably affected
    at this painful sight which wounded them in their egotism.

    The poor mother saw her son rolling along in the thick waters of the
    Seine, a rigid and horribly swollen corpse; while at the same time, she
    perceived him a babe, in his cradle, when she drove away death bending
    over him. She had brought him back into the world on more than ten
    occasions; she loved him for all the love she had bestowed on him during
    thirty years. And now he had met his death far away from her, all at
    once, in the cold and dirty water, like a dog.

    Then she remembered the warm blankets in which she had enveloped him.
    What care she had taken of her boy! What a tepid temperature he had been
    reared in! How she had coaxed and fondled him! And all this to see him
    one day miserably drown himself! At these thoughts Madame Raquin felt a
    tightening at the throat, and she hoped she was going to die, strangled
    by despair.

    Old Michaud hastened to withdraw. Leaving Suzanne behind to look after
    the mercer, he and Olivier went to find Laurent, so that they might
    hurry to Saint-Ouen with all speed.

    During the journey, they barely exchanged a few words. Each of them
    buried himself in a corner of the cab which jolted along over the
    stones. There they remained motionless and mute in the obscurity that
    prevailed within the vehicle. Ever and anon a rapid flash from a gas
    lamp, cast a bright gleam on their faces. The sinister event that had
    brought them together, threw a sort of dismal dejection upon them.

    When they at length arrived at the restaurant beside the river, they
    found Therese in bed with burning head and hands. The landlord told them
    in an undertone, that the young woman had a violent fever. The truth was
    that Therese, feeling herself weak in character and wanting in courage,
    feared she might confess the crime in one of her nervous attacks, and
    had decided to feign illness.

    Maintaining sullen silence, she kept her lips and eyes closed, unwilling
    to see anyone lest she should speak. With the bedclothes to her chin,
    her face half concealed by the pillow, she made herself quite small,
    anxiously listening to all that was said around her. And, amidst the
    reddish gleam that passed beneath her closed lids, she could still see
    Camille and Laurent struggling at the side of the boat. She perceived
    her husband, livid, horrible, increased in height, rearing up straight
    above the turbid water, and this implacable vision heightened the
    feverish heat of her blood.

    Old Michaud endeavoured to speak to her and console her. But she made a
    movement of impatience, and turning round, broke out into a fresh fit of
    sobbing.

    "Leave her alone, sir," said the restaurant keeper, "she shudders at the
    slightest sound. You see, she wants rest."

    Below, in the general room, was a policeman drawing up a statement of
    the accident. Michaud and his son went downstairs, followed by Laurent.
    When Olivier had made himself known as an upper official at the
    Prefecture of Police, everything was over in ten minutes. The boating
    men, who were still there, gave an account of the drowning in its
    smallest details, describing how the three holiday-makers had fallen
    into the water, as if they themselves had witnessed the misfortune. Had
    Olivier and his father the least suspicion, it would have been dispelled
    at once by this testimony.

    But they had not doubted the veracity of Laurent for an instant. On the
    contrary, they introduced him to the policeman as the best friend of the
    victim, and they were careful to see inserted in the report, that
    the young man had plunged into the water to save Camille Raquin. The
    following day, the newspapers related the accident with a great display
    of detail: the unfortunate mother, the inconsolable widow, the noble and
    courageous friend, nothing was missing from this event of the day, which
    went the round of the Parisian press, and then found an echo in the
    provinces.

    When the report was completed, Laurent experienced lively joy, which
    penetrated his being like new life. From the moment his victim had
    buried his teeth in his neck, he had been as if stiffened, acting
    mechanically, according to a plan arranged long in advance. The instinct
    of self-preservation alone impelled him, dictating to him his words,
    affording him advice as to his gestures.

    At this hour, in the face of the certainty of impunity, the blood
    resumed flowing in his veins with delicious gentleness. The police had
    passed beside his crime, and had seen nothing. They had been duped, for
    they had just acquitted him. He was saved. This thought caused him to
    experience a feeling of delightful moisture all along his body, a warmth
    that restored flexibility to his limbs and to his intelligence. He
    continued to act his part of a weeping friend with incomparable science
    and assurance. At the bottom of his heart, he felt brutal satisfaction;
    and he thought of Therese who was in bed in the room above.

    "We cannot leave this unhappy woman here," said he to Michaud. "She is
    perhaps threatened with grave illness. We must positively take her back
    to Paris. Come, let us persuade her to accompany us."

    Upstairs, he begged and prayed of Therese to rise and dress, and allow
    herself to be conducted to the Arcade of the Pont Neuf. When the young
    woman heard the sound of his voice, she started, and stared at him with
    eyes wide open. She seemed as if crazy, and was shuddering. Painfully
    she raised herself into a sitting posture without answering. The men
    quitted the room, leaving her alone with the wife of the restaurant
    keeper. When ready to start, she came downstairs staggering, and was
    assisted into the cab by Olivier.

    The journey was a silent one. Laurent, with perfect audacity and
    impudence, slipped his hand along the skirt of Therese and caught her
    fingers. He was seated opposite her, in a floating shadow, and could not
    see her face which she kept bowed down on her breast. As soon as he
    had grasped her hand, he pressed it vigorously, retaining it until
    they reached the Rue Mazarine. He felt the hand tremble; but it was not
    withdrawn. On the contrary it ever and anon gave a sudden caress.

    These two hands, one in the other, were burning; the moist palms
    adhered, and the fingers tightly held together, were hurt at each
    pressure. It seemed to Laurent and Therese that the blood from one
    penetrated the chest of the other, passing through their joined fists.
    These fists became a live fire whereon their lives were boiling. Amidst
    the night, amidst the heartrending silence that prevailed, the furious
    grips they exchanged, were like a crushing weight cast on the head of
    Camille to keep him under water.

    When the cab stopped, Michaud and his son got out the first, and Laurent
    bending towards his sweetheart gently murmured:

    "Be strong, Therese. We have a long time to wait. Recollect."

    Then the young woman opened her lips for the first time since the death
    of her husband.

    "Oh! I shall recollect," said she with a shudder, and in a voice light
    as a puff of breath.

    Olivier extended his hand, inviting her to get down. On this occasion,
    Laurent went as far as the shop. Madame Raquin was abed, a prey to
    violent delirium. Therese dragged herself to her room, where Suzanne
    had barely time to undress her before she gave way. Tranquillised,
    perceiving that everything was proceeding as well as he could wish,
    Laurent withdrew, and slowly gained his wretched den in the rue
    Saint-Victor.

    It was past midnight. Fresh air circulated in the deserted, silent
    streets. The young man could hear naught but his own footsteps
    resounding on the pavement. The nocturnal coolness of the atmosphere
    cheered him up; the silence, the darkness gave him sharp sensations of
    delight, and he loitered on his way.

    At last he was rid of his crime. He had killed Camille. It was a matter
    that was settled, and would be spoken of no more. He was now going to
    lead a tranquil existence, until he could take possession of Therese.
    The thought of the murder had at times half choked him, but now that it
    was accomplished, he felt a weight removed from his chest, and breathed
    at ease, cured of the suffering that hesitation and fear had given him.

    At the bottom of his heart, he was a trifle hebetated. Fatigue had
    rendered his limbs and thoughts heavy. He went in to bed and slept
    soundly. During his slumber slight nervous crispations coursed over his
    face.
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