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The Flood by Émile Zola
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THE FLOOD

I.

My name is Louis Roubien. I am seventy years old. I was born in the
village of Saint-Jory, several miles up the Garonne from Toulouse.

For fourteen years I battled with the earth for my daily bread. At last,
prosperity smiled on we, and last month I was still the richest farmer
in the parish.

Our house seemed blessed, happiness reigned there. The sun was our
brother, and I cannot recall a bad crop. We were almost a dozen on the
farm. There was myself, still hale and hearty, leading the children to
work; then my young brother, Pierre, an old bachelor and retired sergeant;
then my sister, Agathe, who came to us after the death of her husband.
She was a commanding woman, enormous and gay, whose laugh could be heard
at the other end of the village. Then came all the brood: my son, Jacques;
his wife, Rosie, and their three daughters, Aimee, Veronique, and Marie.
The first named was married to Cyprica Bouisson, a big jolly fellow, by
whom she had two children, one two years old and the other ten months.
Veronique was just betrothed, and was soon to marry Gaspard Rabuteau. The
third, Marie, was a real young lady, so white, so fair, that she looked as
if born in the city.

That made ten, counting everybody. I was a grandfather and a great-grandfather.
When we were at table I had my sister, Agathe, at my right, and my brother,
Pierre, at my left. The children formed a circle,seated according to age,
with the heads diminishing down to the baby of ten months, who already ate
his soup like a man. And let me tell you that the spoons in the plates made a