The novel begins with a description of a small haberdashery in the Parisian arcade, which contains Teresa Raken and her aunt of 60 years – Mrs. Raken. They live in the same building, on the upper floors.
Before, Ms. Raken traded fancy goods in Vernon, but after the death of her husband, closed the case and led the life of the hermit: she rented a house on the banks of the Seine, where she spent all the time with her son Camille and her niece Teresa.
Camille all childhood was a painful child, but the mother still won him at death. Because of the painful childhood, Camille was of small stature, frail and frail. He could not study, he remained an ignoramus.
Teresa was brought from Algeria by Captain Degan, the brother of Mme Raken. She was 2 years younger than Camille. Her mother, a native, died. The girl was written in the name of Degan, and he gave it to his sister, Mrs. Raken, for education. Theresa was surrounded by care, and grew up as a healthy girl, but she was looked after as well as for the sick Camille. She even drank his medicine. All this made her too obedient and even indifferent.
Soon Teresa and Camille got married. The fact that this will happen, they knew since childhood. Therefore, no change in their lives is not brought: after the first night, which the newlyweds spend together, Camille “still just painfully swayed.”
After the wedding, Camille resolutely stated that he intended to settle in Paris. So the whole family settled in the Pont-Neuf passage and Ms. Raken opened the fancy shop again, where she traded with Theresa. Camille received a post in the management of the Orleans Railway. Once a week, on Thursdays, the family received guests. To them came the old friend of Mrs. Raken, the police commissioner Michaud with his son Olivier, and the old Mane, who worked with Camille.
Once Camille brought his former classmate Laurent to the house. It turned out that Laurent also serves in the management of the Orleans Railway. Laurent’s father wanted his son to become a lawyer, but loafer Laurent instead walked with friends. For some time he tried to paint, but nothing came of it. Laurent had to find a job. From this evening on, he became a regular guest of the Rakens.
Laurent began to paint a portrait of Camille, because he often went to his apartment. Gradually Laurent and Theresa became lovers. Laurent had vested interests, he wanted to take hold of Teresa’s dengas.
Luke’s acquaintances passed at the Raken’s, right in their matrimonial bedroom. Soon they began to realize that Camille was only hindering them. Laurent had the thought of killing him.
Once the three of them went on a boat ride on the Seine. Laurent threw Camille overboard. Camille resisted and even bitten Laurent by the neck, but still Laurent achieved his: Camille drowned. All arranged as if the boat overturned, and Laurent, saving Teresa, did not have time to help a friend.
First, Mrs. Raken was very sad about the death of her son, but soon life came back on track, although the Thursday meetings did not stop. A year later, Teresa and Laurent decided to get married. They made sure that the thought of their marriage was first expressed aloud by Ms. Raken and her guests.
Soon, the newlyweds begin to understand that they can not be together: they everywhere dream of Camilla’s corpse. The scar on the neck of Laurent, left by the resisting Camille, did not heal and constantly troubles the new husband of Theresa. Even in bed, it seems to the newlyweds that the body of the drowned man lies between them.
Laurent once again carried away painting, but all the portraits of his brush are similar to each other. Soon Laurent realized that all of his drawings, even animal drawings, looked like Camille’s drowned man. The relationship between Teresa and Laurent becomes unbearable… Often Laurent beats his wife.
Ms. Raken defeated paralysis, gradually she stopped moving and even talked. From the conversations of her niece and her husband, she suddenly realized that they were the killers of her son. This terrified her. Soon Teresa and Laurent began to talk about the murder of Camille, not hesitating about the presence of Ms. Raken. Once, on a traditional Thursday evening, the old woman gathered all her strength, attracted the attention of the guests and brought her finger out on the table: “Therese and Laurent have…”, but did not have time to finish the most important word. the forces left her, and the guests decided that she wanted to write: “Teresa and Laurent are amazingly concerned about me.”
Theresa tried to repent. For days on end, she begged for forgiveness from the old woman, but soon set out for debauchery. Therese and Laurent did not trust each other. They were afraid that one of them would tell everyone in the police. Both decided to kill again. Laurent bought a bubble of cyanide potassium, and Teresa imprisoned the knife. Everyone noticed the actions of the other. In the end it turned out that both accomplices drank poisoned water. “They fell on top of each other, finding consolation in death.” The lips of the young woman touched the neck of her husband, the place where the scar from Camilla’s teeth was. The corpses lay all night on the floor of the dining room, at the feet of Mme Raken, crooked, ugly, illuminated by yellowish reflections of the lamp. For almost twelve hours, until noon, Mrs. Raken, motionless and dumb, looked at them, destroying them with her heavy gaze, and could not get enough of this spectacle “