On the following Saturday Coupeau, who had not come home to dinner, brought Lantier
with him towards ten o'clock. They had had some sheep's trotters at Chez Thomas at
"You mustn't scold, wife," said the zinc-worker. "We're sober, as you can see. Oh!
there's no fear with him; he keeps one on the straight road."
And he related how they happened to meet in the Rue Rochechouart. After dinner
Lantier had declined to have a drink at the "Black Ball," saying that when one was
married to a pretty and worthy little woman, one ought not to go liquoring-up at all the
wineshops. Gervaise smiled slightly as she listened. Oh! she was not thinking of
scolding, she felt too much embarrassed for that. She had been expecting to see her
former lover again some day ever since their dinner party; but at such an hour, when
she was about to go to bed, the unexpected arrival of the two men had startled her. Her
hands were quivering as she pinned back the hair which had slid down her neck.
"You know," resumed Coupeau, "as he was so polite as to decline a drink outside, you
must treat us to one here. Ah! you certainly owe us that!"
The workwomen had left long ago. Mother Coupeau and Nana had just gone to bed.
Gervaise, who had been just about to put up the shutters when they appeared, left the
shop open and brought some glasses which she placed on a corner of the work-table
with what was left of a bottle of brandy.
Lantier remained standing and avoided speaking directly to her. However, when she
served him, he exclaimed:
"Only a thimbleful, madame, if you please."
Coupeau looked at them and then spoke his mind very plainly. They were not going to
behave like a couple of geese he hoped! The past was past was it not? If people nursed
grudges for nine and ten years together one would end by no longer seeing anybody.
No, no, he carried his heart in his hand, he did! First of all, he knew who he had to deal
with, a worthy woman and a worthy man—in short two friends! He felt easy; he knew he
could depend upon them.
"Oh! that's certain, quite certain," repeated Gervaise, looking on the ground and
scarcely understanding what she said.
"She is a sister now—nothing but a sister!" murmured Lantier in his turn.