L'Assommoir

By Émile Zola; Margaret R. Mauldon | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V

As it happened, the Boches had moved from the Rue des Poissonniers on the April quarterly rent day and taken over the lodge of the big building in the Rue de la Goutte-d'Or. Now wasn't that a piece of luck! One of Gervaise's worries had been that after living so peacefully without a concierge in her little place in the Rue Neuve, she'd be back under the thumb of some spiteful creature who'd make trouble over a drop of spilt water or a door closed too noisily at night. Concierges are such a nasty lot! But with the Boches it would be a pleasure. They knew one another and they'd always get along. In short, they'd be like family.

On the day when the Coupeaus went to sign the rental lease, Gervaise felt her heart swell as she passed through the tall entryway. So she was actually going to live in this enormous building, the size of a small town, with its streets of stairs and passages that went stretching on and criss-crossing for ever. The grey façades with rags drying at the windows in the sunlight, the dim courtyard with its paving stones so badly worn it could have been a public square, the rumble of work that filtered through the walls, all filled her with intense agitation, with joy at finally being on the point of realizing her ambition and with fear that she would fail and find herself crushed underfoot in this vast struggle against hunger, whose nearness she could sense. She felt she was doing something very daring, that she was flinging herself right into the heart of a moving machine, as the locksmith's hammers and the cabinetmaker's planes banged and whirred in the depths of the ground-floor workshops. The water from the dyeworks running through the entrance that day was a very soft apple green. She smiled as she stepped over it; the colour, she thought, was a happy omen.

The appointment with the proprietor was in the Boches' lodge itself. Monsieur Marescot, a wealthy cutler from the Rue de la Paix,* had once worked as a knife-grinder on the city pavements. It was said that now he was worth several millions. He was a man of fifty-five, strong and bony, with a ribbon in

-126-

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L'Assommoir
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Translation xlvii
  • Select Bibliography l
  • Chronology lii
  • Preface 3
  • Chapter I 5
  • Chapter II 34
  • Chapter V 126
  • Chapter VII 194
  • Explanatory Notes 441
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