L'Assommoir HTML version
Nana was growing up and becoming wayward. At fifteen years old she had expanded
like a calf, white-skinned and very fat; so plump, indeed, you might have called her a
pincushion. Yes, such she was—fifteen years old, full of figure and no stays. A saucy
magpie face, dipped in milk, a skin as soft as a peach skin, a funny nose, pink lips and
eyes sparkling like tapers, which men would have liked to light their pipes at. Her pile of
fair hair, the color of fresh oats, seemed to have scattered gold dust over her temples,
freckle-like as it were, giving her brow a sunny crown. Ah! a pretty doll, as the Lorilleuxs
say, a dirty nose that needed wiping, with fat shoulders, which were as fully rounded
and as powerful as those of a full-grown woman. Nana no longer needed to stuff wads
of paper into her bodice, her breasts were grown. She wished they were larger though,
and dreamed of having breasts like a wet-nurse.
What made her particularly tempting was a nasty habit she had of protruding the tip of
her tongue between her white teeth. No doubt on seeing herself in the looking-glasses
she had thought she was pretty like this; and so, all day long, she poked her tongue out
of her mouth, in view of improving her appearance.
"Hide your lying tongue!" cried her mother.
Coupeau would often get involved, pounding his fist, swearing and shouting:
"Make haste and draw that red rag inside again!"
Nana showed herself very coquettish. She did not always wash her feet, but she bought
such tight boots that she suffered martyrdom in St. Crispin's prison; and if folks
questioned her when she turned purple with pain, she answered that she had the
stomach ache, so as to avoid confessing her coquetry. When bread was lacking at
home it was difficult for her to trick herself out. But she accomplished miracles, brought
ribbons back from the workshop and concocted toilettes—dirty dresses set off with
bows and puffs. The summer was the season of her greatest triumphs. With a cambric
dress which had cost her six francs she filled the whole neighborhood of the Goutte-d'Or
with her fair beauty. Yes, she was known from the outer Boulevards to the Fortifications,
and from the Chaussee de Clignancourt to the Grand Rue of La Chapelle. Folks called
her "chickie," for she was really as tender and as fresh-looking as a chicken.
There was one dress which suited her perfectly, a white one with pink dots. It was very
simple and without a frill. The skirt was rather short and revealed her ankles. The
sleeves were deeply slashed and loose, showing her arms to the elbow. She pinned the
neck back into a wide V as soon as she reached a dark corner of the staircase to avoid
getting her ears boxed by her father for exposing the snowy whiteness of her throat and
the golden shadow between her breasts. She also tied a pink ribbon round her blond