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A Love Episode - Emile Zola

A Love Episode - Emile Zola


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Originally UPLOADED by SATHEESH BALACHANDRAN/ Guruvayur/ /LIBRARY OF BABEL/ {in the process of "being built"} Contact: satheeshgvr@gmail.com, to DOWNLOAD this eBook. Thank You.
Originally UPLOADED by SATHEESH BALACHANDRAN/ Guruvayur/ /LIBRARY OF BABEL/ {in the process of "being built"} Contact: satheeshgvr@gmail.com, to DOWNLOAD this eBook. Thank You.

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Published by: Satheesh Balachandran on Jun 05, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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At half-past three exactly Zephyrin made his appearance; he would walk about the street until the clocks of
the neighborhood had struck the half-hour. Rosalie listened to the beat of his heavy shoes on the stairs, and
opened the door the moment he halted on the landing. She had forbidden him to ring the bell. At each visit the
same greeting passed between them.

"Is it you?"

"Yes, it's me!"

And they stood face to face, their eyes sparkling and their lips compressed. Then Zephyrin followed Rosalie;
but there was no admission vouchsafed to him till she had relieved him of shako and sabre. She would have
none of these in her kitchen; and so the sabre and shako were hidden away in a cupboard. Next she would
make him sit down in the corner she had contrived near the window, and thenceforth he was not allowed to

"Sit still there! You can look on, if you like, while I get madame's dinner ready."

But he rarely appeared with empty hands. He would usually spend the morning in strolling with some
comrades through the woods of Meudon, lounging lazily about, inhaling the fresh air, which inspired him with
regretful memories of his country home. To give his fingers something to do he would cut switches, which he
tapered and notched with marvelous figurings, and his steps gradually slackening he would come to a stop
beside some ditch, his shako on the back of his head, while his eyes remained fixed on the knife with which
he was carving the stick. Then, as he could never make up his mind to discard his switches, he carried them in
the afternoon to Rosalie, who would throw up her hands, and exclaim that they would litter her kitchen. But
the truth was, she carefully preserved them; and under her bed was gathered a bundle of these switches, of all
sorts and sizes.

One day he made his appearance with a nest full of eggs, which he had secreted in his shako under the folds of
a handkerchief. Omelets made from the eggs of wild birds, so he declared, were very nice--a statement which
Rosalie received with horror; the nest, however, was preserved and laid away in company with the switches.
But Zephyrin's pockets were always full to overflowing. He would pull curiosities from them, transparent
pebbles found on the banks of the Seine, pieces of old iron, dried berries, and all sorts of strange rubbish,
which not even a rag-picker would have cared for. His chief love, however, was for pictures; as he sauntered
along he would seize on all the stray papers that had served as wrappers for chocolate or cakes of soap, and on
which were black men, palm-trees, dancing-girls, or clusters of roses. The tops of old broken boxes, decorated
with figures of languid, blonde ladies, the glazed prints and silver paper which had once contained
sugar-sticks and had been thrown away at the neighboring fairs, were great windfalls that filled his bosom
with pride. All such booty was speedily transferred to his pockets, the choicer articles being enveloped in a
fragment of an old newspaper. And on Sunday, if Rosalie had a moment's leisure between the preparation of a
sauce and the tending of the joint, he would exhibit his pictures to her. They were hers if she cared for them;
only as the paper around them was not always clean he would cut them out, a pastime which greatly amused
him. Rosalie got angry, as the shreds of paper blew about even into her plates; and it was a sight to see with
what rustic cunning he would at last gain possession of her scissors. At times, however, in order to get rid of
him, she would give them up without any asking.

Meanwhile some brown sauce would be simmering on the fire. Rosalie watched it, wooden spoon in hand;
while Zephyrin, his head bent and his breadth of shoulder increased by his epaulets, continued cutting out the
pictures. His head was so closely shaven that the skin of his skull could be seen; and the yellow collar of his
tunic yawned widely behind, displaying his sunburnt neck. For a quarter of an hour at a time neither would
utter a syllable. When Zephyrin raised his head, he watched Rosalie while she took some flour, minced some
parsley, or salted and peppered some dish, his eyes betraying the while intense interest. Then, at long
intervals, a few words would escape him:

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