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At the Sign of the Cat & Racket - Balzac

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At the Sign of the Cat and Racket

by Honore de Balzac

Translated by Clara Bell

DEDICATION

To Mademoiselle Marie de Montheau

AT THE SIGN OF THE CAT AND RACKET



Half-way down the Rue Saint-Denis, almost at the corner of the Rue du
Petit-Lion, there stood formerly one of those delightful houses which
enable historians to reconstruct old Paris by analogy. The threatening
walls of this tumbledown abode seemed to have been decorated with
hieroglyphics. For what other name could the passer-by give to the Xs
and Vs which the horizontal or diagonal timbers traced on the front,
outlined by little parallel cracks in the plaster? It was evident that
every beam quivered in its mortices at the passing of the lightest
vehicle. This venerable structure was crowned by a triangular roof of
which no example will, ere long, be seen in Paris. This covering,
warped by the extremes of the Paris climate, projected three feet over
the roadway, as much to protect the threshold from the rainfall as to
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