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    Chapter 18

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    Chapter 19
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    Therese also had been visited by the spectre of Camille, during this
    feverish night.

    After over a year of indifference, Laurent's sudden attentions had
    aroused her senses. As she tossed herself about in insomnia, she had
    seen the drowned man rise up before her; like Laurent she had writhed
    in terror, and she had said as he had done, that she would no longer be
    afraid, that she would no more experience such sufferings, when she had
    her sweetheart in her arms.

    This man and woman had experienced at the same hour, a sort of nervous
    disorder which set them panting with terror. A consanguinity had become
    established between them. They shuddered with the same shudder; their
    hearts in a kind of poignant friendship, were wrung with the same
    anguish. From that moment they had one body and one soul for enjoyment
    and suffering.

    This communion, this mutual penetration is a psychological and
    physiological phenomenon which is often found to exist in beings who
    have been brought into violent contact by great nervous shocks.

    For over a year, Therese and Laurent lightly bore the chain riveted to
    their limbs that united them. In the depression succeeding the acute
    crisis of the murder, amidst the feelings of disgust, and the need for
    calm and oblivion that had followed, these two convicts might fancy they
    were free, that they were no longer shackled together by iron fetters.
    The slackened chain dragged on the ground. They reposed, they found
    themselves struck with a sort of delightful insensibility, they sought
    to love elsewhere, to live in a state of wise equilibrium. But from
    the day when urged forward by events, they came to the point of again
    exchanging burning sentences, the chain became violently strained, and
    they received such a shock, that they felt themselves for ever linked to
    one another.

    The day following this first attack of nightmare, Therese secretly set
    to work to bring about her marriage with Laurent. It was a difficult
    task, full of peril. The sweethearts trembled lest they should commit an
    imprudence, arouse suspicions, and too abruptly reveal the interest they
    had in the death of Camille.

    Convinced that they could not mention marriage themselves, they arranged
    a very clever plan which consisted in getting Madame Raquin herself, and
    the Thursday evening guests, to offer them what they dared not ask for.
    It then only became necessary to convey to these worthy people the idea
    of remarrying Therese, and particularly to make them believe that this
    idea originated with themselves, and was their own.

    The comedy was long and delicate to perform. Therese and Laurent
    took the parts adapted to them, and proceeded with extreme prudence,
    calculating the slightest gesture, and the least word. At the bottom
    of their hearts, they were devoured by a feeling of impatience that
    stiffened and strained their nerves. They lived in a state of constant
    irritation, and it required all their natural cowardice to compel them
    to show a smiling and peaceful exterior.

    If they yearned to bring the business to an end, it was because they
    could no longer remain separate and solitary. Each night, the drowned
    man visited them, insomnia stretched them on beds of live coal and
    turned them over with fiery tongs. The state of enervation in which they
    lived, nightly increased the fever of their blood, which resulted in
    atrocious hallucinations rising up before them.

    Therese no longer dared enter her room after dusk. She experienced the
    keenest anguish, when she had to shut herself until morning in this
    large apartment, which became lit-up with strange glimmers, and peopled
    with phantoms as soon as the light was out. She ended by leaving her
    candle burning, and by preventing herself falling asleep, so as to
    always have her eyes wide open. But when fatigue lowered her lids, she
    saw Camille in the dark, and reopened her eyes with a start. In the
    morning she dragged herself about, broken down, having only slumbered
    for a few hours at dawn.

    As to Laurent, he had decidedly become a poltroon since the night he
    had taken fright when passing before the cellar door. Previous to that
    incident he had lived with the confidence of a brute; now, at the least
    sound, he trembled and turned pale like a little boy. A shudder of
    terror had suddenly shaken his limbs, and had clung to him. At night,
    he suffered even more than Therese; and fright, in this great, soft,
    cowardly frame, produced profound laceration to the feelings. He watched
    the fall of day with cruel apprehension. On several occasions, he failed
    to return home, and passed whole nights walking in the middle of the
    deserted streets.

    Once he remained beneath a bridge, until morning, while the rain poured
    down in torrents; and there, huddled up, half frozen, not daring to rise
    and ascend to the quay, he for nearly six hours watched the dirty water
    running in the whitish shadow. At times a fit of terror brought him flat
    down on the damp ground: under one of the arches of the bridge he seemed
    to see long lines of drowned bodies drifting along in the current. When
    weariness drove him home, he shut himself in, and double-locked the
    door. There he struggled until daybreak amidst frightful attacks of
    fever.

    The same nightmare returned persistently: he fancied he fell from
    the ardent clasp of Therese into the cold, sticky arms of Camille. He
    dreamt, first of all, that his sweetheart was stifling him in a warm
    embrace, and then that the corpse of the drowned man pressed him to his
    chest in an ice-like strain. These abrupt and alternate sensations of
    voluptuousness and disgust, these successive contacts of burning love
    and frigid death, set him panting for breath, and caused him to shudder
    and gasp in anguish.

    Each day, the terror of the lovers increased, each day their attacks of
    nightmare crushed and maddened them the more. They no longer relied on
    their kisses to drive away insomnia. By prudence, they did not dare
    make appointments, but looked forward to their wedding-day as a day of
    salvation, to be followed by an untroubled night.

    It was their desire for calm slumber that made them wish for their
    union. They had hesitated during the hours of indifference, both being
    oblivious of the egotistic and impassioned reasons that had urged them
    to the crime, and which were now dispelled. It was in vague despair that
    they took the supreme resolution to unite openly. At the bottom of their
    hearts they were afraid. They had leant, so to say, one on the other
    above an unfathomable depth, attracted to it by its horror. They
    bent over the abyss together, clinging silently to one another, while
    feelings of intense giddiness enfeebled their limbs and gave them
    falling madness.

    But at the present moment, face to face with their anxious expectation
    and timorous desires, they felt the imperative necessity of closing
    their eyes, and of dreaming of a future full of amorous felicity and
    peaceful enjoyment. The more they trembled one before the other, the
    better they foresaw the horror of the abyss to the bottom of which
    they were about to plunge, and the more they sought to make promises
    of happiness to themselves, and to spread out before their eyes the
    invincible facts that fatally led them to marriage.

    Therese desired her union with Laurent solely because she was afraid
    and wanted a companion. She was a prey to nervous attacks that drove her
    half crazy. In reality she reasoned but little, she flung herself into
    love with a mind upset by the novels she had recently been reading,
    and a frame irritated by the cruel insomnia that had kept her awake for
    several weeks.

    Laurent, who was of a stouter constitution, while giving way to his
    terror and his desire, had made up his mind to reason out his decision.
    To thoroughly prove to himself that his marriage was necessary, that
    he was at last going to be perfectly happy, and to drive away the vague
    fears that beset him, he resumed all his former calculations.

    His father, the peasant of Jeufosse, seemed determined not to die, and
    Laurent said to himself that he might have to wait a long time for the
    inheritance. He even feared that this inheritance might escape him, and
    go into the pockets of one of his cousins, a great big fellow who turned
    the soil over to the keen satisfaction of the old boy. And he would
    remain poor; he would live the life of a bachelor in a garret, with a
    bad bed and a worse table. Besides, he did not contemplate working all
    his life; already he began to find his office singularly tedious. The
    light labour entrusted to him became irksome owing to his laziness.

    The invariable result of these reflections was that supreme happiness
    consisted in doing nothing. Then he remembered that if he had drowned
    Camille, it was to marry Therese, and work no more. Certainly, the
    thought of having his sweetheart all to himself had greatly influenced
    him in committing the crime, but he had perhaps been led to it still
    more, by the hope of taking the place of Camille, of being looked after
    in the same way, and of enjoying constant beatitude. Had passion alone
    urged him to the deed, he would not have shown such cowardice and
    prudence. The truth was that he had sought by murder to assure himself a
    calm, indolent life, and the satisfaction of his cravings.

    All these thoughts, avowedly or unconsciously, returned to him. To find
    encouragement, he repeated that it was time to gather in the harvest
    anticipated by the death of Camille, and he spread out before him, the
    advantages and blessings of his future existence: he would leave his
    office, and live in delicious idleness; he would eat, drink and sleep to
    his heart's content; he would have an affectionate wife beside him; and,
    he would shortly inherit the 40,000 francs and more of Madame Raquin,
    for the poor old woman was dying, little by little, every day; in a
    word, he would carve out for himself the existence of a happy brute, and
    would forget everything.

    Laurent mentally repeated these ideas at every moment, since his
    marriage with Therese had been decided on. He also sought other
    advantages that would result therefrom, and felt delighted when he found
    a new argument, drawn from his egotism, in favour of his union with the
    widow of the drowned man. But however much he forced himself to hope,
    however much he dreamed of a future full of idleness and pleasure, he
    never ceased to feel abrupt shudders that gave his skin an icy chill,
    while at moments he continued to experience an anxiety that stifled his
    joy in his throat.
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