Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Biographical > Tropic Of Cancer > Part 14 Chapter 3
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Part 14 Chapter 3

After the hunchback had made the fire for me I inquired about the grub. It was not quite time for dinner. I flopped on the bed, with my overcoat on, and pulled the covers over me. Beside me was the eternal rickety night table in which the piss pot is hidden away. I stood the alarm on the table and watched the minutes ticking off. Into the well of the room a bluish light filtered in from the street. I listened to the trucks rattling by as I gazed vacantly at the stove pipe, at the elbow where it was held together with bits of wire. The coal chest intrigued me. Never in my life had I occupied a room with a coal chest. And never in my life had I built a fire or taught children. Nor, for that matter, never in my life had I worked without pay. I felt free and chained at the same time – like one feels just before election, when all the crooks have been nominated and you are beseeched to vote for the right man. I felt like a hired man, like a jack of all trades, like a hunter, like a rover, like a galley slave, like a pedagogue, like a worm and a louse. I was free, but my limbs were shackled. A democratic soul with a free meal ticket, but no power of locomotion, no voice. I felt like a jellyfish nailed to a plank. Above all, I felt hungry. The hands were moving slowly. Still ten more minutes to kill before the fire alarm would go off. The shadows in the room deepened. It grew frightfully silent, a tense stillness that tautened my nerves. Little dabs of snow clung to the windowpanes. Far away a locomotive gave out a shrill scream. Then a dead silence again. The stove had commenced to glow, but there was no heat coming from it. I began to fear that I might doze off and miss the dinner. That would mean lying awake on an empty belly all night. I got panic stricken.


Just a moment before the gong went off I jumped out of bed and, locking the door behind me, I bolted downstairs to the courtyard. There I got lost. One quadrangle after another, one staircase after another. I wandered in and out of the buildings searching frantically for the refectory. Passed a long line of youngsters marching in a column to God knows where; they moved along like a chain gang, with a slave driver at the head of the column. Finally I saw an energetic looking individual, with a derby, heading toward me. I stopped him to ask the way to the refectory. Happened I stopped the right man. It was M. le Proviseur, and he seemed delighted to have stumbled on me. Wanted to know right away if I were comfortably settled, if there was anything more he could do for me. I told him everything was O.K. Only it was a bit chilly, I ventured to add. He assured me that it was rather unusual, this weather. Now and then the fogs came on and a bit of snow, and then it became unpleasant for a while, and so on and so forth. All the while he had me by the arm, guiding me toward the refectory.


He seemed like a very decent chap. A regular guy, I thought to myself. I even went so far as to imagine that I might get chummy with him later on, that he'd invite me to his room on a bitter cold night and make a hot grog for me. I imagined all sorts of friendly things in the few moments it required to reach the door of the refectory. Here, my mind racing on at a mile a minute. he suddenly shook hands with me and, doffing his hat, bade me good night. I was so bewildered that I tipped my hat also. It was the regular thing to do, I soon found out. Whenever you pass a prof, or even M. l'Econome, you doff the hat. Might pass the same guy a dozen times a day. Makes no difference. You've got to give the salute, even though your hat is worn out. It's the polite thing to do.


Anyway, I had found the refectory. Like an East Side clinic it was, with tiled walls, bare light, and marble-topped tables. And of course a big stove with an elbow pipe. The dinner wasn't served yet. A cripple was running in and out with dishes and knives and forks and bottles of wine. In a corner several young men conversing animatedly. I went up to them and introduced myself. They gave me a most cordial reception. Almost too cordial, in fact. I couldn't quite make it out. In a jiffy the room began to fill up; I was presented from one to the other quickly. Then they formed a circle about me and, filling the glasses, they began to sing…


L'autre soir l'idée m'est venue

Cré nom de Zeus d'enculer un pendu;

Le vent se lève sur la potence,

Voilà mon pendu qui se balance,

J'ai d? l'enculer en sautant,

Cré nom de Zeus, on est jamais content.


Baiser dans un con trop petit,

Cré nom de Zeus, on s'écorche le vit;

Baiser dans un con trop large,

On ne sait pas où l'on décharge;

Se branler étant bien emmerdant,

Cré nom de Zeus, on est jamais content.


With this, Quasimodo announced the dinner.


They were a cheerful group, les surveillants. There was Kroa who belched like a pig and always let off a loud fart when he sat down to table. He could fart thirteen times in succession, they informed me. He held the record. Then there was Monsieur le Prince, an athlete who was fond of wearing a tuxedo in the evening when he went to town; he had a beautiful complexion, just like a girl, and never touched the wine nor read anything that might tax his brain. Next to him sat Petit Paul, from the Midi, who thought of nothing but cunt all the time; he used to say every day – "à partir de jeudi je ne parlerai plus de femmes." He and Monsieur le Prince were inseparable. Then there was Passeleau, a veritable young scallywag who was studying medicine and who borrowed right and left; he talked incessantly of Ronsard, Villon and Rabela............

Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved