The Ladies’ Paradise, ch. 2

So, let’s pick up where we finished: Denise is totally stoked about applying for a job at “The Paradise”. So stoked, in fact, that she arrives too early and just weirds everyone out, except a young, shy man  who is also applying for a job there.
Right then a tall, dapper man passes them, enters the store and everyone is greeting him, so Denise figures he is a Head of some department, when, in fact, it is Octave Mouret, the owner of the store. He hasn’t slept all night, because he was out drinking with his friend and two actresses (i.e. tramps), but he looks all fresh and lively because he is the flamboyant king of the hill. He sits down in his office and smiles at a portrait of his late wife, to which he comes back each morning after nights of debauchery and booze.
Enter Mouret’s companion and business partner, Bourdoncle. He checks on Mouret and is appalled by his vain life stile and carefree love life. Contrary to his partner, Bourdoncle avoids women and believes they bring no good. He is actually sure that one day they will have their vengeance for being exploited and discarded by both, Mouret and “The Paradise”.
Mouret sneers at this, as he is totally intoxicated with his financial success and risky business ventures. Thanks to his awesome intuition, he invents all kinds of new strategies and tricks, like filling the store with mountains of pretty stuff or introducing  sales commissions to motivate his salespeople. Heck, he even sells silk at ridiculously low prices just so he would attract women and oust rivalling stores. Basically he just invents what modern stores do nowadays. In the 19th century.
He and B go on a daily walk around the store, noting the good – and bad – work of the employees. Mouret even butts in the process of arranging silks and – surprise, surprise – he is a genius at this as well, creating a vibrant display and blowing everyone’s minds. You go, Mouret.
Then he notices that a frail, confused girl (Denise) is struck dumb by the vibrant display and feels deeply touched by it. Other employees make fun of her, tho. Bourdoncle basically says “Whoo-wee, that girl is ugly”, while Mouret thinks she is sort of lovely in a simple, natural kind of way, but doesn’t bother to defend her. Truth is, he doesn’t really care that much. When he finds out, however, that she is a relative of uncle Baudut, Mouret addresses Denise and she realizes, with horror, that she is talking to the owner of the store. She is interviewed for a job as a saleswoman in the ready outfits dpt. and they say they will keep in touch. Denise goes out of the store and, once again, bumps into the young, timid man she met earlier. He introduces himself as Deloche. They share an awkward moment and wish each other luck. End of chapter.


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