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    Chapter 31

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    Chapter 32
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    One morning, Laurent, instead of going to his studio, took up a position
    at a wine-shop situated at one of the corners of the Rue Guenegaud,
    opposite the studio. From there, he began to examine the persons who
    issued from the passage on to the pavement of the Rue Mazarine. He
    was watching for Therese. The previous evening, the young woman had
    mentioned that she intended going out next day and probably would not be
    home until evening.

    Laurent waited fully half an hour. He knew that his wife always went by
    the Rue Mazarine; nevertheless, at one moment, he remembered that she
    might escape him by taking the Rue de Seine, and he thought of returning
    to the arcade, and concealing himself in the corridor of the house. But
    he determined to retain his seat a little longer, and just as he was
    growing impatient he suddenly saw Therese come rapidly from the passage.

    She wore a light gown, and, for the first time, he noticed that her
    attire appeared remarkably showy, like a street-walker. She twisted
    her body about on the pavement, staring provokingly at the men who came
    along, and raising her skirt, which she clutched in a bunch in her hand,
    much higher than any respectable woman would have done, in order
    to display her lace-up boots and stockings. As she went up the Rue
    Mazarine, Laurent followed her.

    It was mild weather, and the young woman walked slowly, with her head
    thrown slightly backward and her hair streaming down her back. The men
    who had first of all stared her in the face, turned round to take a
    back view. She passed into the Rue de l'Ecole de Medecine. Laurent
    was terrified. He knew that somewhere in this neighbourhood, was a
    Commissariat of Police, and he said to himself that there could no
    longer be any doubt as to the intentions of his wife, she was certainly
    about to denounce him. Then he made up his mind to rush after her, if
    she crossed the threshold of the commissariat, to implore her, to beat
    her if necessary, so as to compel her to hold her tongue. At a street
    corner she looked at a policeman who came along, and Laurent trembled
    with fright, lest she should stop and speak to him. In terror of being
    arrested on the spot if he showed himself, he hid in a doorway.

    This excursion proved perfect agony. While his wife basked in the sun
    on the pavement, trailing her skirt with nonchalance and impudence,
    shameless and unconcerned, he followed behind her, pale and shuddering,
    repeating that it was all over, that he would be unable to save himself
    and would be guillotined. Each step he saw her take, seemed to him a
    step nearer punishment. Fright gave him a sort of blind conviction, and
    the slightest movement of the young woman added to his certainty. He
    followed her, he went where she went, as a man goes to the scaffold.

    Suddenly on reaching the former Place Saint-Michel, Therese
    advanced towards a cafe that then formed the corner of the Rue
    Monsieur-le-Prince. There she seated herself in the centre of a group of
    women and students, at one of the tables on the pavement, and familiarly
    shook hands with all this little crowd. Then she called for absinthe.

    She seemed quite at ease, chatting with a fair young man who no doubt
    had been waiting for her some time. Two girls came and leant over
    the table where she sat, addressing her affectionately in their husky
    voices. Around her, women were smoking cigarettes, men were embracing
    women in the open street, before the passers-by, who never even turned
    their heads. Low words and hoarse laughter reached Laurent, who remained
    motionless in a doorway on the opposite side of the street.

    When Therese had finished her absinthe, she rose, and leaning on the arm
    of the fair young man, went down the Rue de la Harpe. Laurent followed
    them as far as the Rue Saint-Andre-des-Arts, where he noticed them enter
    a lodging-house. He remained in the middle of the street with his eyes
    on the front of the building. Presently his wife showed herself for
    an instant at an open window on the second floor, and he fancied he
    perceived the hands of the pale young man encircling her waist. Then,
    the window closed with a sharp clang.

    Laurent understood. Without waiting a moment longer, he tranquilly took
    himself off reassured and happy.

    "Bah!" said he to himself, as he went towards the quays. "It's better,
    after all, that she should have a sweetheart. That will occupy her mind,
    and prevent her thinking of injuring me. She's deucedly more clever than
    I am."

    What astonished him, was that he had not been the first to think of
    plunging into vice, which might have driven away his terror. But his
    thoughts had never turned in that direction, and, moreover, he had not
    the least inclination for riotous living. The infidelity of his wife did
    not trouble him in the least. He felt no anger at the knowledge that she
    was in the arms of another man. On the contrary, he seemed to enjoy
    the idea. He began to think that he had been following the wife of a
    comrade, and laughed at the cunning trick the woman was playing her
    husband. Therese had become such a stranger to him, that he no longer
    felt her alive in his heart. He would have sold her, bound hand and
    foot, a hundred times over, to purchase calm for one hour.

    As he sauntered along, he enjoyed the sudden, delightful reaction that
    had just brought him from terror to peace. He almost thanked his wife
    for having gone to a sweetheart, when he thought her on her way to a
    commissary of police. This adventure had come to an unforeseen end that
    agreeably surprised him. It distinctly showed him that he had done wrong
    to tremble, and that he, in his turn, should try vice, in order to see
    whether such a course would not relieve him by diverting his thoughts.

    On returning to the shop in the evening, Laurent decided that he would
    ask his wife for a few thousand francs, and that he would resort to
    high-handed measures to obtain them. Reflection told him that vice would
    be an expensive thing, for a man. He patiently awaited Therese, who had
    not yet come in. When she arrived, he affected gentleness, and refrained
    from breathing a word about having followed her in the morning. She was
    slightly tipsy, and from her ill-adjusted garments, came that unpleasant
    odour of tobacco and spirits that is met with in public drinking places.
    Completely exhausted, and with cheeks as pale as death, she advanced at
    an unsteady gait and with a head quite heavy from the shameless fatigue
    of the day.

    The dinner passed in silence. Therese ate nothing. At dessert Laurent
    placed his elbows on the table, and flatly asked her for 5,000 francs.

    "No," she answered dryly. "If I were to give you a free hand, you'd
    bring us to beggary. Aren't you aware of our position? We are going as
    fast as ever we can to the dogs."

    "That may be," he quietly resumed. "I don't care a fig, I intend to have

    "No, a thousand times no!" she retorted. "You left your place, the
    mercery business is in a very bad way, and the revenue from my marriage
    portion is not sufficient to maintain us. Every day I encroach on the
    principal to feed you and give you the one hundred francs a month you
    wrung from me. You will not get anything beyond that, do you understand?
    So it's no use asking."

    "Just reflect," he replied, "and don't be so silly as to refuse. I tell
    you I mean to have 5,000 francs, and I shall have them. You'll give them
    me, in spite of all."

    This quiet determination irritated Therese and put the finishing touch
    to her intoxication.

    "Ah! I know what it is," she cried, "you want to finish as you began.
    We have been keeping you for four years. You only came to us to eat and
    drink, and since then you've been at our charge. Monsieur does nothing,
    Monsieur has arranged so as to live at my expense with his arms folded
    one over the other. No, you shall have nothing, not a sou. Do you want
    me to tell you what you are? Well then, you are a------"

    And she pronounced the word. Laurent began to laugh, shrugging his
    shoulders. He merely replied:

    "You learn some pretty expressions in the company you keep now."

    This was the only allusion he ventured to make to the love affairs of
    Therese. She quickly raised her head, and bitterly replied:

    "Anyhow, I don't keep the company of murderers."

    Laurent became very pale, and for a moment remained silent, with his
    eyes fixed on his wife; then, in a trembling voice, he resumed:

    "Listen, my girl, don't let us get angry; there is no good in that
    neither for you nor me. I've lost all courage. We had better come to an
    understanding if we wish to avoid a misfortune. If I ask you for 5,000
    francs it is because I want them; and I will even tell you what I intend
    to do with them, so as to ensure our tranquillity."

    He gave her a peculiar smile, and continued:

    "Come, reflect, let me have your last word."

    "I have thoroughly made up my mind," answered the young woman, "and it
    is as I have told you. You shall not have a sou."

    Her husband rose violently. She was afraid of being beaten; she crouched
    down, determined not to give way to blows. But Laurent did not even
    approach her, he confined himself to telling her in a frigid tone that
    he was tired of life, and was about to relate the story of the murder to
    the commissary of police of the quarter.

    "You drive me to extremes," said he, "you make my life unbearable. I
    prefer to have done with it. We shall both be tried and condemned. And
    there will be an end to it all."

    "Do you think you'll frighten me?" shouted his wife. "I am as weary as
    you are. I'll go to the commissary of police myself, if you don't. Ah!
    Indeed, I am quite ready to follow you to the scaffold, I'm not a coward
    like you. Come along, come along with me to the commissary."

    She had risen, and was making her way to the staircase.

    "That's it," stammered Laurent, "let's go together."

    When they were down in the shop they looked at once another, anxious and
    alarmed. It seemed as though they were riveted to the ground. The few
    seconds they had taken to run downstairs had suffered to show them, as
    in a flash, all the consequences of a confession. They saw at the same
    moment, suddenly and distinctly: gendarmes, prison, assize-court and
    guillotine. This made them feel faint, and they were tempted to throw
    themselves on their knees, one before the other, to implore one another
    to remain, and reveal nothing. Fright and embarrassment kept them
    motionless and mute for two or three minutes. Therese was the first to
    make up her mind to speak and give way.

    "After all," said she, "I am a great fool to quarrel with you about this
    money. You will succeed in getting hold of it and squandering it, one
    day or another. I may just as well give it you at once."

    She did not seek to conceal her defeat any further. She seated herself
    at the counter, and signed a cheque for 5,000 francs, which Laurent was
    to present to her banker. There was no more question of the commissary
    of police that evening.

    As soon as Laurent had the gold in his pocket, he began to lead a
    riotous life, drinking to excess, and frequenting women of ill-repute.
    He slept all day and stayed out all night, in search of violent emotions
    that would relieve him of reality. But he only succeeded in becoming
    more oppressed than before. When the company were shouting around
    him, he heard the great, terrible silence within him; when one of his
    ladyloves kissed him, when he drained his glass, he found naught at the
    bottom of his satiety, but heavy sadness.

    He was no longer a man for lust and gluttony. His chilled being, as
    if inwardly rigid, became enervated at the kisses and feasts. Feeling
    disgusted beforehand, they failed to arouse his imagination or to excite
    his senses and stomach. He suffered a little more by forcing himself
    into a dissolute mode of life, and that was all. Then, when he returned
    home, when he saw Madame Raquin and Therese again, his weariness brought
    on frightful fits of terror. And he vowed he would leave the house
    no more, that he would put up with his suffering, so as to become
    accustomed to it, and be able to conquer it.

    For a month Therese lived, like Laurent, on the pavement and in the
    cafes. She returned daily for a moment, in the evening to feed Madame
    Raquin and put her to bed, and then disappeared again until the morrow.
    She and her husband on one occasion were four days without setting eyes
    on each other. At last, she experienced profound disgust at the life
    she was leading, feeling that vice succeeded no better with her than the
    comedy of remorse.

    In vain had she dragged through all the lodging-houses in the Latin
    Quarter, in vain had she led a low, riotous life. Her nerves were
    ruined. Debauchery ceased to give her a sufficiently violent shock to
    render her oblivious of the past. She resembled one of those drunkards
    whose scorched palates remain insensible to the most violent spirits.
    She had done with lust, and the society of her paramours only worried
    and wearied her. Then, she quitted them as useless.

    She now fell a prey to despondent idleness which kept her at home, in
    a dirty petticoat, with hair uncombed, and face and hands unwashed. She
    neglected everything and lived in filth.

    When the two murderers came together again face to face, in this
    manner, after having done their best to get away from each other,
    they understood that they would no longer have strength to struggle.
    Debauchery had rejected them, it had just cast them back to their
    anguish. Once more they were in the dark, damp lodging in the arcade;
    and, henceforth, were as if imprisoned there, for although they had
    often attempted to save themselves, never had they been able to
    sever the sanguinary bond attaching them. They did not even think of
    attempting a task they regarded as impossible. They found themselves so
    urged on, so overwhelmed, so securely fastened together by events, that
    they were conscious all resistance would be ridiculous. They resumed
    their life in common, but their hatred became furious rage.

    The quarrels at night began again. But for that matter, the blows
    and cries lasted all day long. To hatred distrust was now added, and
    distrust put the finishing touch to their folly.

    They were afraid of each other. The scene that had followed the demand
    for 5,000 francs, was repeated morning and night. They had the fixed
    idea that they wanted to give one another up. From that standpoint they
    did not depart. When either of them said a word, or made a gesture, the
    other imagined that he or she, as the case might be, intended to go
    to the commissary of police. Then, they either fought or implored one
    another to do nothing.

    In their anger, they shouted out that they would run and reveal
    everything, and terrified each other to death. After this they
    shuddered, they humbled themselves, and promised with bitter tears to
    maintain silence. They suffered most horribly, but had not the courage
    to cure themselves by placing a red-hot iron on the wound. If they
    threatened one another to confess the crime, it was merely to strike
    terror into each other and drive away the thought, for they would never
    have had strength to speak and seek peace in punishment.

    On more than twenty occasions, they went as far as the door of the
    commissariat of police, one following the other. Now it was Laurent who
    wanted to confess the murder, now Therese who ran to give herself
    up. But they met in the street, and always decided to wait, after an
    interchange of insults and ardent prayers.

    Every fresh attack made them more suspicious and ferocious than before.
    From morning till night they were spying upon one another. Laurent
    barely set his foot outside the lodging in the arcade, and if,
    perchance, he did absent himself, Therese never failed to accompany him.
    Their suspicions, their fright lest either should confess, brought
    them together, united them in atrocious intimacy. Never, since their
    marriage, had they lived so tightly tied together, and never had they
    experienced such suffering. But, notwithstanding the anguish they
    imposed on themselves, they never took their eyes off one another. They
    preferred to endure the most excruciating pain, rather than separate for
    an hour.

    If Therese went down to the shop, Laurent followed, afraid that she
    might talk to a customer; if Laurent stood in the doorway, observing the
    people passing through the arcade, Therese placed herself beside him to
    see that he did not speak to anyone. When the guests were assembled on
    Thursday evenings, the murderers addressed supplicating glances to each
    other, listening to one another in terror, one accomplice expecting the
    other to make some confession, and giving an involving interpretation to
    sentences only just commenced.

    Such a state of warfare could not continue any longer.

    Therese and Laurent had both reached the point of pondering on the
    advisability of extricating themselves from the consequences of their
    first crime, by committing a second. It became absolutely necessary that
    one of them should disappear so that the other might enjoy some repose.
    This reflection came to them both at the same time; both felt the urgent
    necessity for a separation, and both desired that it should be eternal.
    The murder that now occurred to their minds, seemed to them natural,
    fatal and forcibly brought about by the murder of Camille. They did not
    even turn the matter over in their heads but welcomed the idea as the
    only means of safety. Laurent determined he would kill Therese because
    she stood in his way, because she might ruin him by a word, and because
    she caused him unbearable suffering. Therese made up her mind that she
    would kill Laurent, for the same reasons.

    The firm resolution to commit another murder somewhat calmed them.
    They formed their plans. But in that respect they acted with feverish
    excitement, and without any display of excessive prudence. They only
    thought vaguely of the probable consequences of a murder committed
    without flight and immunity being ensured. They felt the invincible
    necessity to kill one another, and yielded to this necessity like
    furious brutes. They would not have exposed themselves for their first
    crime, which they had so cleverly concealed, and yet they risked the
    guillotine, in committing a second, which they did not even attempt to

    Here was a contradiction in their conduct that they never so much as
    caught sight of. Both simply said to themselves that if they succeeded
    in fleeing, they would go and live abroad, taking all the cash with
    them. Therese, a fortnight or three weeks before, had drawn from the
    bank the few thousand francs that remained of her marriage portion, and
    kept them locked up in a drawer--a circumstance that had not escaped
    Laurent. The fate of Madame Raquin did not trouble them an instant.

    A few weeks previously, Laurent had met one of his old college friends,
    now acting as dispenser to a famous chemist, who gave considerable
    attention to toxicology. This friend had shown him over the laboratory
    where he worked, pointing out to him the apparatus and the drugs.

    One night, after he had made up his mind in regard to the murder, and
    as Therese was drinking a glass of sugar and water before him, Laurent
    remembered that he had seen in this laboratory a small stoneware flagon,
    containing prussic acid, and that the young dispenser had spoken to him
    of the terrible effects of this poison, which strikes the victim down
    with sudden death, leaving but few traces behind. And Laurent said to
    himself, that this was the poison he required. On the morrow, succeeding
    in escaping the vigilance of Therese, he paid his friend a visit, and
    while he had his back turned, stole the small stoneware flagon.

    The same day, Therese took advantage of the absence of Laurent, to send
    the large kitchen knife, with which they were in the habit of breaking
    the loaf sugar, and which was very much notched, to be sharpened. When
    it came back, she hid it in a corner of the sideboard.
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    Chapter 32
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