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    Chapter 32

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    Chapter 33
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    The following Thursday, the evening party at the Raquins, as the guests
    continued to term the household of their hosts, was particularly merry.
    It was prolonged until half-past eleven, and as Grivet withdrew, he
    declared that he had never passed such a pleasant time.

    Suzanne, who was not very well, never ceased talking to Therese of her
    pain and joy. Therese appeared to listen to her with great interest,
    her eyes fixed, her lips pinched, her head, at moments, bending forward;
    while her lowering eyelids cast a cloud over the whole of her face.

    Laurent, for his part, gave uninterrupted attention to the tales of old
    Michaud and Olivier. These gentlemen never paused, and it was only with
    difficulty that Grivet succeeded in getting in a word edgeways between
    a couple of sentences of father and son. He had a certain respect
    for these two men whom he considered good talkers. On that particular
    evening, a gossip having taken the place of the usual game, he naively
    blurted out that the conversation of the former commissary of police
    amused him almost as much as dominoes.

    During the four years, or thereabouts, that the Michauds and Grivet had
    been in the habit of passing the Thursday evenings at the Raquins', they
    had not once felt fatigued at these monotonous evenings that returned
    with enervating regularity. Never had they for an instant suspected the
    drama that was being performed in this house, so peaceful and harmonious
    when they entered it. Olivier, with the jest of a person connected with
    the police, was in the habit of remarking that the dining-room savoured
    of the honest man. Grivet, so as to have his say, had called the place
    the Temple of Peace.

    Latterly, on two or three different occasions, Therese explained the
    bruises disfiguring her face, by telling the guests she had fallen down.
    But none of them, for that matter, would have recognised the marks of
    the fist of Laurent; they were convinced as to their hosts being a model
    pair, replete with sweetness and love.

    The paralysed woman had not made any fresh attempt to reveal to them
    the infamy concealed behind the dreary tranquillity of the Thursday
    evenings. An eye-witness of the tortures of the murderers, and
    foreseeing the crisis which would burst out, one day or another, brought
    on by the fatal succession of events, she at length understood that
    there was no necessity for her intervention. And from that moment, she
    remained in the background allowing the consequences of the murder of
    Camille, which were to kill the assassins in their turn, to take their
    course. She only prayed heaven, to grant her sufficient life to enable
    her to be present at the violent catastrophe she foresaw; her only
    remaining desire was to feast her eyes on the supreme suffering that
    would undo Therese and Laurent.

    On this particular evening, Grivet went and seated himself beside her,
    and talked for a long time, he, as usual, asking the questions and
    supplying the answers himself. But he failed to get even a glance from
    her. When half-past eleven struck, the guests quickly rose to their

    "We are so comfortable with you," said Grivet, "that no one ever thinks
    of leaving."

    "The fact is," remarked Michaud by way of supporting the old clerk, "I
    never feel drowsy here, although I generally go to bed at nine o'clock."

    Olivier thought this a capital opportunity for introducing his little

    "You see," said he, displaying his yellow teeth, "this apartment savours
    of honest people: that is why we are so comfortable here."

    Grivet, annoyed at being forestalled, began to declaim with an emphatic

    "This room is the Temple of Peace!"

    In the meanwhile, Suzanne, who was putting on her hat, remarked to

    "I will come to-morrow morning at nine o'clock."

    "No," hastened to answer the young woman in a strange, troubled tone,
    "don't come until the afternoon I have an engagement in the morning."

    She accompanied the guests into the arcade, and Laurent also went down
    with a lamp in his hand. As soon as the married couple were alone,
    both heaved a sigh of relief. They must have been devoured by secret
    impatience all the evening. Since the previous day they had become more
    sombre, more anxious in presence of one another. They avoided looking at
    each other, and returned in silence to the dining-room. Their hands gave
    slight convulsive twitches, and Laurent was obliged to place the lamp on
    the table, to avoid letting it fall.

    Before putting Madame Raquin to bed they were in the habit of setting
    the dining-room in order, of preparing a glass of sugar and water
    for the night, of moving hither and thither about the invalid, until
    everything was ready.

    When they got upstairs on this particular occasion, they sat down an
    instant with pale lips, and eyes gazing vaguely before them. Laurent was
    the first to break silence:

    "Well! Aren't we going to bed?" he inquired, as if he had just started
    from a dream.

    "Yes, yes, we are going to bed," answered Therese, shivering as though
    she felt a violent chill.

    She rose and grasped the water decanter.

    "Let it be," exclaimed her husband, in a voice that he endeavoured to
    render natural, "I will prepare the sugar and water. You attend to your

    He took the decanter of water from the hands of his wife and poured out
    a glassful. Then, turning half round, he emptied the contents of the
    small stoneware flagon into the glass at the same time as he dropped a
    lump of sugar into it. In the meanwhile, Therese had bent down before
    the sideboard, and grasping the kitchen knife sought to slip it into one
    of the large pockets hanging from her waist.

    At the same moment, a strange sensation which comes as a warning note
    of danger, made the married couple instinctively turn their heads. They
    looked at one another. Therese perceived the flagon in the hands of
    Laurent, and the latter caught sight of the flash of the blade in the
    folds of the skirt of his wife.

    For a few seconds they examined each other, mute and frigid, the husband
    near the table, the wife stooping down before the sideboard. And they
    understood. Each of them turned icy cold, on perceiving that both
    had the same thought. And they were overcome with pity and horror
    at mutually reading the secret design of the other on their agitated

    Madame Raquin, feeling the catastrophe near at hand, watched them with
    piercing, fixed eyes.

    Therese and Laurent, all at once, burst into sobs. A supreme crisis
    undid them, cast them into the arms of one another, as weak as children.
    It seemed to them as if something tender and sweet had awakened in their
    breasts. They wept, without uttering a word, thinking of the vile life
    they had led, and would still lead, if they were cowardly enough to

    Then, at the recollection of the past, they felt so fatigued and
    disgusted with themselves, that they experienced a huge desire for
    repose, for nothingness. They exchanged a final look, a look of
    thankfulness, in presence of the knife and glass of poison. Therese took
    the glass, half emptied it, and handed it to Laurent who drank off the
    remainder of the contents at one draught. The result was like lightning.
    The couple fell one atop of the other, struck down, finding consolation,
    at last, in death. The mouth of the young woman rested on the scar that
    the teeth of Camille had left on the neck of her husband.

    The corpses lay all night, spread out contorted, on the dining-room
    floor, lit up by the yellow gleams from the lamp, which the shade cast
    upon them. And for nearly twelve hours, in fact until the following day
    at about noon, Madame Raquin, rigid and mute, contemplated them at her
    feet, overwhelming them with her heavy gaze, and unable to sufficiently
    gorge her eyes with the hideous sight.



    The idea of the plot of "Therese Raquin," according to M. Paul Alexis,
    Zola's biographer, came from a novel called "La Venus de Gordes"
    contributed to the "Figaro" by Adolphe Belot and Ernest Daudet--the
    brother of Alphonse Daudet--in collaboration. In this story the authors
    dealt with the murder of a man by his wife and her paramour, followed by
    the trial of the murderers at the assizes. Zola, in noticing the book in
    the "Figaro," when it arrived for review, pointed out that a much more
    powerful story might be written on the same subject by invoking divine
    instead of human justice. For instance, showing the two murderers safe
    from earthly consequences, yet separated by the pool of blood between
    them, haunted by their crime, and detesting one another for the deed
    done together.

    It then occurred to Zola to write the tale on these lines himself.
    Convinced that the idea was good, he elaborated it with the greatest
    care and all the skill at his command, the result being that he produced
    a volume which proved his first genuine success, and which is still
    considered by many to be his very best book.


    SURBITON, 1 December, 1901.
    Chapter 33
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