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Then with all speed
they returned to the Rue Pierre Lescot and the Rue Rambuteau. Cadine was
extremely fond of salted provisions; she stood in admiration before the
bundles of red-herrings, the barrels of anchovies and capers, and the
little casks of gherkins and olives, standing on end with wooden spoons
inside them. The smell of the vinegar titillated her throat; the pungent
odour of the rolled cod, smoked salmon, bacon and ham, and the sharp
acidity of the baskets of lemons, made her mouth water longingly. She
was also fond of feasting her eyes on the boxes of sardines piled up in
metallic columns amidst the cases and sacks. In the Rue Montorgueil
and the Rue Montmartre were other tempting-looking groceries and
restaurants, from whose basements appetising odours were wafted, with
glorious shows of game and poultry, and preserved-provision shops, which
last displayed beside their doors open kegs overflowing with yellow
sourkrout suggestive of old lacework. Then they lingered in the Rue
Coquilliere, inhaling the odour of truffles from the premises of a
notable dealer in comestibles, which threw so strong a perfume into the
street that Cadine and Marjolin closed their eyes and imagined they
were swallowing all kinds of delicious things. These perfumes, however,
distressed Claude. They made him realise the emptiness of his stomach,
he said; and, leaving the "two animals" to feast on the odour of
the truffles--the most penetrating odour to be found in all the
neighbourhood--he went off again to the corn market by way of the Rue
Oblin, studying on his road the old women who sold green-stuff in
the doorways and the displays of cheap pottery spread out on the
foot-pavements.

Such were their rambles in common; but when Cadine set out alone with
her bunches of violets she often went farther afield, making it a point
to visit certain shops for which she had a particular partiality. She
had an especial weakness for the Taboureau bakery establishment, one of
the windows of which was exclusively devoted to pastry. She would follow
the Rue Turbigo and retrace her steps a dozen times in order to pass
again and again before the almond cakes, the _savarins_, the St. Honore
tarts, the fruit tarts, and the various dishes containing bunlike
_babas_ redolent of rum, eclairs combining the finger biscuit with
chocolate, and _choux a la crème_, little rounds of pastry overflowing
with whipped white of egg. The glass jars full of dry biscuits,
macaroons, and _madeleines_ also made her mouth water; and the bright
shop with its big mirrors, its marble slabs, its gilding, its bread-bins
of ornamental ironwork, and its second window in which long glistening
loaves were displayed slantwise, with one end resting on a crystal
shelf whilst above they were upheld by a brass rod, was so warm and
odoriferous of baked dough that her features expanded with pleasure
when, yielding to temptation, she went in to buy a _brioche_ for two
sous.

Another shop, one in front of the Square des Innocents, also filled her
with gluttonous inquisitiveness, a fever of longing desire. This shop
made a specialty of forcemeat pasties. In addition to the ordinary ones
there were pasties of pike and pasties of truffled _foie gras_; and the
girl would gaze yearningly at them, saying to herself that she would
really have to eat one some day.

Cadine also had her moments of vanity and coquetry. When these fits
were on her, she bought herself in imagination some of the magnificent
dresses displayed in the windows of the "Fabriques de France" which
made the Pointe Saint Eustache gaudy with their pieces of bright stuff
hanging from the first floor to the footway and flapping in the breeze.
Somewhat incommoded by the flat basket hanging before her, amidst the
crowd of market women in dirty aprons gazing at future Sunday dresses,
the girl would feel the woollens, flannels, and cottons to test the
texture and suppleness of the material; and she would promise herself a
gown of bright-coloured flannelling, flowered print, or scarlet poplin.
Sometimes even from amongst the pieces draped and set off to advantage
by the window-dressers she would choose some soft sky-blue or
apple-green silk, and dream of wearing it with pink ribbons. In the
evenings she would dazzle herself with the displays in the windows of
the big jewellers in the Rue Montmartre. That terrible street deafened
her with its ceaseless flow of vehicles, and the streaming crowd never
ceased to jostle her; still she did not stir, but remained feasting her
eyes on the blazing splendour set out in the light of the reflecting
lamps which hung outside the windows. On one side all was white with the
bright glitter of silver: watches in rows, chains hanging, spoons
and forks laid crossways, cups, snuff-boxes, napkin-rings, and combs
arranged on shelves. The silver thimbles, dotting a porcelain stand
covered with a glass shade, had an especial attraction for her. Then
on the other side the windows glistened with the tawny glow of gold. A
cascade of long pendant chains descended from above, rippling with ruddy
gleams; small ladies' watches, with the backs of their cases displayed,
sparkled like fallen stars; wedding rings clustered round slender rods;
bracelets, broaches, and other costly ornaments glittered on the black
velvet linings of their cases; jewelled rings set their stands aglow
with blue, green, yellow, and violet flamelets; while on every tier of
the shelves superposed rows of earrings and crosses and lockets hung
against the crystal like the rich fringes of altar-cloths. The glow of
this gold illumined the street half way across with a sun-like radiance.
And Cadine, as she gazed at it, almost fancied that she was in presence
of something holy, or on the threshold of the Emperor's treasure
chamber. She would for a long time scrutinise all this show of gaudy
jewellery, adapted to the taste of the fish-wives, and carefully read
the large figures on the tickets affixed to each article; and eventually
she would select for herself a pair of earrings--pear-shaped drops of
imitation coral hanging from golden roses.

One morning Claude caught her standing in ecstasy before a
hair-dresser's window in the Rue Saint Honore. She was gazing at the
display of hair with an expression of intense envy. High up in the
window was a streaming cascade of long manes, soft wisps, loose tresses,
frizzy falls, undulating comb-curls, a perfect cataract of silky and
bristling hair, real and artificial, now in coils of a flaming red, now
in thick black crops, now in pale golden locks, and even in snowy white
ones for the coquette of sixty. In cardboard boxes down below were
cleverly arranged fringes, curling side-ringlets, and carefully combed
chignons glossy with pomade. And amidst this framework, in a sort of
shrine beneath the ravelled ends of the hanging locks, there revolved
the bust of a woman, arrayed in a wrapper of cherry-coloured satin
fastened between the breasts with a brass brooch. The figure wore a
lofty bridal coiffure picked out with sprigs of orange blossom, and
smiled with a dollish smile. Its eyes were pale blue; its eyebrows were
very stiff and of exaggerated length; and its waxen cheeks and shoulders
bore evident traces of the heat and smoke of the gas. Cadine waited
till the revolving figure again displayed its smiling face, and as its
profile showed more distinctly and it slowly went round from left to
right she felt perfectly happy. Claude, however, was indignant, and,
shaking Cadine, he asked her what she was doing in front of "that
abomination, that corpse-like hussy picked up at the Morgue!" He flew
into a temper with the "dummy's" cadaverous face and shoulders, that
disfigurement of the beautiful, and remarked that artists painted
nothing but that unreal type of woman nowadays. Cadine, however,
remained unconvinced by his oratory, and considered the lady extremely
beautiful. Then, resisting the attempts of the artist to drag her away
by the arm, and scratching her black mop in vexation, she pointed to an
enormous ruddy tail, severed from the quarters of some vigorous mare,
and told him she would have liked to have a crop of hair like that.

During the long rambles when Claude, Cadine, and Marjolin prowled about
the neighbourhood of the markets, they saw the iron ribs of the giant
building at the end of every street. Wherever they turned they caught
sudden glimpses of it; the horizon was always bounded by it; merely the
aspect under which it was seen varied. Claude was perpetually turning
round, and particularly in the Rue Montmartre, after passing the church.
From that point the markets, seen obliquely in the distance, filled him
with enthusiasm. A huge arcade, a giant, gaping gateway, was open before
him; then came the crowding pavilions with their lower and upper roofs,
their countless Venetian shutters and endless blinds, a vision, as it
were, of superposed houses and palaces; a Babylon of metal of Hindoo
delicacy of workmanship, intersected by hanging terraces, aerial
galleries, and flying bridges poised over space. The trio always
returned to this city round which they strolled, unable to stray
more than a hundred yards away. They came back to it during the hot
afternoons when the Venetian shutters were closed and the blinds
lowered. In the covered ways all seemed to be asleep, the ashy greyness
was streaked by yellow bars of sunlight falling through the high
windows. Only a subdued murmur broke the silence; the steps of a few
hurrying passers-by resounded on the footways; whilst the badge-wearing
porters sat in rows on the stone ledges at the corners of the pavilions,
taking off their boots and nursing their aching feet. The quietude
was that of a colossus at rest, interrupted at times by some cock-crow
rising from the cellars below.

Claude, Cadine, and Marjolin then often went to see the empty hampers
piled upon the drays, which came to fetch them every afternoon so that
they might be sent back to the consignors. There were mountains of them,
labelled with black letters and figures, in front of the salesmen's
warehouses in the Rue Berger.



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