peasant was mounting with a book in his hand. “A house-porter, no doubt; so then, the office is here,” and he began ascending the stairs on the chance. He did not want to ask questions of anyone.
“I’ll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything...” he thought, as he reached the fourth floor.
The staircase was steep, narrow and all sloppy with dirty water. The kitchens of the flats opened on to the stairs and stood open almost the whole day. So there was a fearful smell and heat. The staircase was crowded with porters going up and down with their books under their arms, policemen, and persons of all sorts and both sexes. The door of the office, too, stood wide open. Peasants stood waiting within. There, too, the heat was stifling and there was a sickening smell of fresh paint and stale oil from the newly decorated rooms.
After waiting a little, he decided to move forward