The third installment of The Great War: Things Fall Apart is up now:
It was a ten minute walk from the Mertens shop to the the Perreau house, but the contrast between the buildings made the distance between them seem much wider. The Rue des Remparts was a street of shops and row houses. Both the Mertens shop window and the green painted door which led into the attached house fronted directly on the sidewalk, with the small garden behind the building, invisible from the street. Only a narrow passage separated the building which contained both shop and house from the next building, which contained Jobart’s pork butcher shop and Boucher’s grocery, each with living quarters above on the second and third floors.
The Perreau house on the Rue des Ragons stood well back from the road, surrounded by a high wrought iron fence, terraced lawns, and formal flower beds. Philomene had left home early, knowing that Madame Perreau was a believer in punctuality. When she reached the gate, decorated with curling iron vines ending in gilded fruits and flowers, she looked down at the watch pinned to her blouse and saw that it was seven minutes before ten o’clock. Rather than approach the house early she walked slowly along the sidewalk outside the fence, looking up at the gardens and the tall grey stone house that rose above them and trying to imagine tables spread out on both sides of the winding stone path that lead up to the house with a crowd of guests, each paying ten francs for the privilege of enjoying refreshments and conversation in support of the new religious school.
Chateau Ducloux boasted two families that could be described as wealthy, of which the Perreaus were unquestionably the older and more respectable of the two. They were not aristocracy. They would have denied the term even had it been applied to them. Georges Perreau had risen to prominence in the town during the reign of the first Napoleon, turning a small inheritance, a government contract for the manufacture of boots, and a sharp instinct for negotiation into a substantial fortune which he spent in buying up landholdings small and large....
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