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L'Assommoir by Émile Zola
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By Emile Zola


Gervaise had waited up for Lantier until two in the morning. Then,
shivering from having remained in a thin loose jacket, exposed to the
fresh air at the window, she had thrown herself across the bed, drowsy,
feverish, and her cheeks bathed in tears.

For a week past, on leaving the "Two-Headed Calf," where they took
their meals, he had sent her home with the children and never reappeared
himself till late at night, alleging that he had been in search of work.
That evening, while watching for his return, she thought she had seen
him enter the dancing-hall of the "Grand-Balcony," the ten blazing
windows of which lighted up with the glare of a conflagration the dark
expanse of the exterior Boulevards; and five or six paces behind him,
she had caught sight of little Adele, a burnisher, who dined at the same
restaurant, swinging her hands, as if she had just quitted his arm so as
not to pass together under the dazzling light of the globes at the door.

When, towards five o'clock, Gervaise awoke, stiff and sore, she broke
forth into sobs. Lantier had not returned. For the first time he had
slept away from home. She remained seated on the edge of the bed, under
the strip of faded chintz, which hung from the rod fastened to the
ceiling by a piece of string. And slowly, with her eyes veiled by tears,
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