Not a member?     Existing members login below:

L'Assommoir

CHAPTER X
The Coupeaus' new lodging was on the sixth floor, staircase B. After passing
Mademoiselle Remanjou's door, you took the corridor to the left, and then turned again
further along. The first door was for the apartment of the Bijards. Almost opposite, in an
airless corner under a small staircase leading to the roof, was where Pere Bru slept.
Two doors further was Bazouge's room and the Coupeaus were opposite him,
overlooking the court, with one room and a closet. There were only two more doors
along the corridor before reaching that of the Lorilleuxs at the far end.
A room and a closet, no more. The Coupeaus perched there now. And the room was
scarcely larger than one's hand. And they had to do everything in there—eat, sleep, and
all the rest. Nana's bed just squeezed into the closet; she had to dress in her father and
mother's room, and her door was kept open at night-time so that she should not be
suffocated. There was so little space that Gervaise had left many things in the shop for
the Poissons. A bed, a table, and four chairs completely filled their new apartment but
she didn't have the courage to part with her old bureau and so it blocked off half the
window. This made the room dark and gloomy, especially since one shutter was stuck
shut. Gervaise was now so fat that there wasn't room for her in the limited window
space and she had to lean sideways and crane her neck if she wanted to see the
courtyard.
During the first few days, the laundress would continually sit down and cry. It seemed to
her too hard, not being able to move about in her home, after having been used to so
much room. She felt stifled; she remained at the window for hours, squeezed between
the wall and the drawers and getting a stiff neck. It was only there that she could
breathe freely. However, the courtyard inspired rather melancholy thoughts. Opposite
her, on the sunny side, she would see that same window she had dreamed about long
ago where the spring brought scarlet vines. Her own room was on the shady side where
pots of mignonette died within a week. Oh, this wasn't at all the sort of life she had
dreamed of. She had to wallow in filth instead of having flowers all about her.
On leaning out one day, Gervaise experienced a peculiar sensation: she fancied she
beheld herself down below, near the concierge's room under the porch, her nose in the
air, and examining the house for the first time; and this leap thirteen years backwards
caused her heart to throb. The courtyard was a little dingier and the walls more stained,
otherwise it hadn't changed much. But she herself felt terribly changed and worn. To
begin with, she was no longer below, her face raised to heaven, feeling content and
courageous and aspiring to a handsome lodging. She was right up under the roof,
among the most wretched, in the dirtiest hole, the part that never received a ray of
sunshine. And that explained her tears; she could scarcely feel enchanted with her fate.
However, when Gervaise had grown somewhat used to it, the early days of the little
family in their new home did not pass off so badly. The winter was almost over, and the
 
Remove