L'Assommoir

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

CHAPTER VII

GERVAISE'S saint's day was the 19th of June. The Coupeaus spent money like water on these occasions, celebrating with binges which left you round as a barrel, your belly stuffed full for the week. Everyone's spare cash was scraped together. In that household, the minute they'd saved up a few sous, they blew them on food. They added imaginary saint's days to the calender just as an excuse for a real spread. Virginie was all for Gervaise cramming herself with goodies. When you've a man who boozes it all away it serves him right, doesn't it, if you don't let everything you've got be poured down his gullet, but line your own stomach first. Since your money disappeared anyway, it might as well go into the butcher's pocket as the wine merchant's. And Gervaise, greedier than ever, readily went along with this excuse. It couldn't be helped if they no longer saved a bleeding sou: it was all Coupeau's fault. She had put on even more weight and her limp was worse, because her leg seemed to be getting shorter as it grew fatter.

That year they started talking about the party a month in advance. Licking their lips in anticipation, they considered what dishes they might have. The whole shop was absolutely dying for a binge. It must be a bleeding knock-out of a spree, something really different and damned good because--Lord knows!--it's not every day a treat comes your way. Gervaise's big problem was to decide who to invite; she wanted twelve at table, no more, no less. Herself, her husband, Maman Coupeau, Madame Lerat, that already made four from the family. She'd have the Goujets and the Poissons as well. At first she thought she certainly would not invite her assistants, Madame Putois and Clémence, in case it made them too familiar; however, as the party was always being discussed in front of them and they looked so down in the mouth, in the end she said they could come. Four and four's eight, and two's ten. Then, since she was dead set on having twelve, she made it up with the Lorilleux, who of late had been hanging round her; at least, it was arranged that the Lorilleux would come down for the dinner and they would all agree to let bygones be bygones over a glass.

-194-

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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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