Part 2 out of 8
lives, have penetrated, blended with them. But she was shivering
with cold. She undressed, and cowered down between the sheets
against Charles, who was asleep.
There were a great many people to luncheon. The repast lasted ten
minutes; no liqueurs were served, which astonished the doctor.
Next, Mademoiselle d'Andervilliers collected some pieces of roll
in a small basket to take them to the swans on the ornamental
waters, and they went to walk in the hot-houses, where strange
plants, bristling with hairs, rose in pyramids under hanging
vases, whence, as from over-filled nests of serpents, fell long
green cords interlacing. The orangery, which was at the other
end, led by a covered way to the outhouses of the chateau. The
Marquis, to amuse the young woman, took her to see the stables.
Above the basket-shaped racks porcelain slabs bore the names of
the horses in black letters. Each animal in its stall whisked its
tail when anyone went near and said "Tchk! tchk!" The boards of
the harness room shone like the flooring of a drawing room. The
carriage harness was piled up in the middle against two twisted
columns, and the bits, the whips, the spurs, the curbs, were
ranged in a line all along the wall.
Charles, meanwhile, went to ask a groom to put his horse to. The
dog-cart was brought to the foot of the steps, and, all the
parcels being crammed in, the Bovarys paid their respects to the
Marquis and Marchioness and set out again for Tostes.
Emma watched the turning wheels in silence. Charles, on the
extreme edge of the seat, held the reins with his two arms wide
apart, and the little horse ambled along in the shafts that were
too big for him. The loose reins hanging over his crupper were
wet with foam, and the box fastened on behind the chaise gave
great regular bumps against it.
They were on the heights of Thibourville when suddenly some
horsemen with cigars between their lips passed laughing. Emma
thought she recognized the Viscount, turned back, and caught on
the horizon only the movement of the heads rising or falling with
the unequal cadence of the trot or gallop.
A mile farther on they had to stop to mend with some string the
traces that had broken.
But Charles, giving a last look to the harness, saw something on
the ground between his horse's legs, and he picked up a
cigar-case with a green silk border and beblazoned in the centre
like the door of a carriage.
"There are even two cigars in it," said he; "they'll do for this
evening after dinner."
"Why, do you smoke?" she asked.
"Sometimes, when I get a chance."
He put his find in his pocket and whipped up the nag.
When they reached home the dinner was not ready. Madame lost her
temper. Nastasie answered rudely.
"Leave the room!" said Emma. "You are forgetting yourself. I give
For dinner there was onion soup and a piece of veal with sorrel.
Charles, seated opposite Emma, rubbed his hands gleefully.
"How good it is to be at home again!"
Nastasie could be heard crying. He was rather fond of the poor
girl. She had formerly, during the wearisome time of his
widowhood, kept him company many an evening. She had been his
first patient, his oldest acquaintance in the place.
"Have you given her warning for good?" he asked at last.
"Yes. Who is to prevent me?" she replied.
Then they warmed themselves in the kitchen while their room was
being made ready. Charles began to smoke. He smoked with lips
protruding, spitting every moment, recoiling at every puff.
"You'll make yourself ill," she said scornfully.
He put down his cigar and ran to swallow a glass of cold water at
the pump. Emma seizing hold of the cigar case threw it quickly to
the back of the cupboard.
The next day was a long one. She walked about her little garden,
up and down the same walks, stopping before the beds, before the
espalier, before the plaster curate, looking with amazement at
all these things of once-on-a-time that she knew so well. How far
off the ball seemed already! What was it that thus set so far
asunder the morning of the day before yesterday and the evening
of to-day? Her journey to Vaubyessard had made a hole in her
life, like one of those great crevices that a storm will
sometimes make in one night in mountains. Still she was resigned.
She devoutly put away in her drawers her beautiful dress, down to
the satin shoes whose soles were yellowed with the slippery wax
of the dancing floor. Her heart was like these. In its friction
against wealth something had come over it that could not be
The memory of this ball, then, became an occupation for Emma.
Whenever the Wednesday came round she said to herself as she
awoke, "Ah! I was there a week--a fortnight--three weeks ago."
And little by little the faces grew confused in her remembrance.
She forgot the tune of the quadrilles; she no longer saw the
liveries and appointments so distinctly; some details escaped
her, but the regret remained with her.
Often when Charles was out she took from the cupboard, between
the folds of the linen where she had left it, the green silk
cigar case. She looked at it, opened it, and even smelt the odour
of the lining--a mixture of verbena and tobacco. Whose was it?
The Viscount's? Perhaps it was a present from his mistress. It
had been embroidered on some rosewood frame, a pretty little
thing, hidden from all eyes, that had occupied many hours, and
over which had fallen the soft curls of the pensive worker. A
breath of love had passed over the stitches on the canvas; each
prick of the needle had fixed there a hope or a memory, and all
those interwoven threads of silk were but the continuity of the
same silent passion. And then one morning the Viscount had taken
it away with him. Of what had they spoken when it lay upon the
wide-mantelled chimneys between flower-vases and Pompadour
clocks? She was at Tostes; he was at Paris now, far away! What
was this Paris like? What a vague name! She repeated it in a low
voice, for the mere pleasure of it; it rang in her ears like a
great cathedral bell; it shone before her eyes, even on the
labels of her pomade-pots.
At night, when the carriers passed under her windows in their
carts singing the "Marjolaine," she awoke, and listened to the
noise of the iron-bound wheels, which, as they gained the country
road, was soon deadened by the soil. "They will be there
to-morrow!" she said to herself.
And she followed them in thought up and down the hills,
traversing villages, gliding along the highroads by the light of
the stars. At the end of some indefinite distance there was
always a confused spot, into which her dream died.
She bought a plan of Paris, and with the tip of her finger on the
map she walked about the capital. She went up the boulevards,
stopping at every turning, between the lines of the streets, in
front of the white squares that represented the houses. At last
she would close the lids of her weary eyes, and see in the
darkness the gas jets flaring in the wind and the steps of
carriages lowered with much noise before the peristyles of
She took in "La Corbeille," a lady's journal, and the "Sylphe des
Salons." She devoured, without skipping a word, all the accounts
of first nights, races, and soirees, took interest in the debut
of a singer, in the opening of a new shop. She knew the latest
fashions, the addresses of the best tailors, the days of the Bois
and the Opera. In Eugene Sue she studied descriptions of
furniture; she read Balzac and George Sand, seeking in them
imaginary satisfaction for her own desires. Even at table she had
her book by her, and turned over the pages while Charles ate and
talked to her. The memory of the Viscount always returned as she
read. Between him and the imaginary personages she made
comparisons. But the circle of which he was the centre gradually
widened round him, and the aureole that he bore, fading from his
form, broadened out beyond, lighting up her other dreams.
Paris, more vague than the ocean, glimmered before Emma's eyes in
an atmosphere of vermilion. The many lives that stirred amid this
tumult were, however, divided into parts, classed as distinct
pictures. Emma perceived only two or three that hid from her all
the rest, and in themselves represented all humanity. The world
of ambassadors moved over polished floors in drawing rooms lined
with mirrors, round oval tables covered with velvet and
gold-fringed cloths. There were dresses with trains, deep
mysteries, anguish hidden beneath smiles. Then came the society
of the duchesses; all were pale; all got up at four o'clock; the
women, poor angels, wore English point on their petticoats; and
the men, unappreciated geniuses under a frivolous outward
seeming, rode horses to death at pleasure parties, spent the
summer season at Baden, and towards the forties married
heiresses. In the private rooms of restaurants, where one sups
after midnight by the light of wax candles, laughed the motley
crowd of men of letters and actresses. They were prodigal as
kings, full of ideal, ambitious, fantastic frenzy. This was an
existence outside that of all others, between heaven and earth,
in the midst of storms, having something of the sublime. For the
rest of the world it was lost, with no particular place and as if
non-existent. The nearer things were, moreover, the more her
thoughts turned away from them. All her immediate surroundings,
the wearisome country, the middle-class imbeciles, the mediocrity
of existence, seemed to her exceptional, a peculiar chance that
had caught hold of her, while beyond stretched, as far as eye
could see, an immense land of joys and passions. She confused in
her desire the sensualities of luxury with the delights of the
heart, elegance of manners with delicacy of sentiment. Did not
love, like Indian plants, need a special soil, a particular
temperature? Signs by moonlight, long embraces, tears flowing
over yielded hands, all the fevers of the flesh and the languors
of tenderness could not be separated from the balconies of great
castles full of indolence, from boudoirs with silken curtains and
thick carpets, well-filled flower-stands, a bed on a raised dias,
nor from the flashing of precious stones and the shoulder-knots
The lad from the posting house who came to groom the mare every
morning passed through the passage with his heavy wooden shoes;
there were holes in his blouse; his feet were bare in list
slippers. And this was the groom in knee-britches with whom she
had to be content! His work done, he did not come back again all
day, for Charles on his return put up his horse himself,
unsaddled him and put on the halter, while the servant-girl
brought a bundle of straw and threw it as best she could into the
To replace Nastasie (who left Tostes shedding torrents of tears)
Emma took into her service a young girl of fourteen, an orphan
with a sweet face. She forbade her wearing cotton caps, taught
her to address her in the third person, to bring a glass of water
on a plate, to knock before coming into a room, to iron, starch,
and to dress her--wanted to make a lady's-maid of her. The new
servant obeyed without a murmur, so as not to be sent away; and
as madame usually left the key in the sideboard, Felicite every
evening took a small supply of sugar that she ate alone in her
bed after she had said her prayers.
Sometimes in the afternoon she went to chat with the postilions.
Madame was in her room upstairs. She wore an open dressing gown
that showed between the shawl facings of her bodice a pleated
chamisette with three gold buttons. Her belt was a corded girdle
with great tassels, and her small garnet coloured slippers had a
large knot of ribbon that fell over her instep. She had bought
herself a blotting book, writing case, pen-holder, and envelopes,
although she had no one to write to; she dusted her what-not,
looked at herself in the glass, picked up a book, and then,
dreaming between the lines, let it drop on her knees. She longed
to travel or to go back to her convent. She wished at the same
time to die and to live in Paris.
Charles in snow and rain trotted across country. He ate omelettes
on farmhouse tables, poked his arm into damp beds, received the
tepid spurt of blood-lettings in his face, listened to
death-rattles, examined basins, turned over a good deal of dirty
linen; but every evening he found a blazing fire, his dinner
ready, easy-chairs, and a well-dressed woman, charming with an
odour of freshness, though no one could say whence the perfume
came, or if it were not her skin that made odorous her chemise.
She charmed him by numerous attentions; now it was some new way
of arranging paper sconces for the candles, a flounce that she
altered on her gown, or an extraordinary name for some very
simple dish that the servant had spoilt, but that Charles
swallowed with pleasure to the last mouthful. At Rouen she saw
some ladies who wore a bunch of charms on the watch-chains; she
bought some charms. She wanted for her mantelpiece two large blue
glass vases, and some time after an ivory necessaire with a
silver-gilt thimble. The less Charles understood these
refinements the more they seduced him. They added something to
the pleasure of the senses and to the comfort of his fireside. It
was like a golden dust sanding all along the narrow path of his
He was well, looked well; his reputation was firmly established.
The country-folk loved him because he was not proud. He petted
the children, never went to the public house, and, moreover, his
morals inspired confidence. He was specially successful with
catarrhs and chest complaints. Being much afraid of killing his
patients, Charles, in fact only prescribed sedatives, from time
to time and emetic, a footbath, or leeches. It was not that he
was afraid of surgery; he bled people copiously like horses, and
for the taking out of teeth he had the "devil's own wrist."
Finally, to keep up with the times, he took in "La Ruche
Medicale," a new journal whose prospectus had been sent him. He
read it a little after dinner, but in about five minutes the
warmth of the room added to the effect of his dinner sent him to
sleep; and he sat there, his chin on his two hands and his hair
spreading like a mane to the foot of the lamp. Emma looked at him
and shrugged her shoulders. Why, at least, was not her husband
one of those men of taciturn passions who work at their books all
night, and at last, when about sixty, the age of rheumatism sets
in, wear a string of orders on their ill-fitting black coat? She
could have wished this name of Bovary, which was hers, had been
illustrious, to see it displayed at the booksellers', repeated in
the newspapers, known to all France. But Charles had no ambition.
An Yvetot doctor whom he had lately met in consultation had
somewhat humiliated him at the very bedside of the patient,
before the assembled relatives. When, in the evening, Charles
told her this anecdote, Emma inveighed loudly against his
colleague. Charles was much touched. He kissed her forehead with
a tear in his eyes. But she was angered with shame; she felt a
wild desire to strike him; she went to open the window in the
passage and breathed in the fresh air to calm herself.
"What a man! What a man!" she said in a low voice, biting her
Besides, she was becoming more irritated with him. As he grew
older his manner grew heavier; at dessert he cut the corks of the
empty bottles; after eating he cleaned his teeth with his tongue;
in taking soup he made a gurgling noise with every spoonful; and,
as he was getting fatter, the puffed-out cheeks seemed to push
the eyes, always small, up to the temples.
Sometimes Emma tucked the red borders of his under-vest unto his
waistcoat, rearranged his cravat, and threw away the dirty gloves
he was going to put on; and this was not, as he fancied, for
himself; it was for herself, by a diffusion of egotism, of
nervous irritation. Sometimes, too, she told him of what she had
read, such as a passage in a novel, of a new play, or an anecdote
of the "upper ten" that she had seen in a feuilleton; for, after
all, Charles was something, an ever-open ear, and ever-ready
approbation. She confided many a thing to her greyhound. She
would have done so to the logs in the fireplace or to the
pendulum of the clock.
At the bottom of her heart, however, she was waiting for
something to happen. Like shipwrecked sailors, she turned
despairing eyes upon the solitude of her life, seeking afar off
some white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know
what this chance would be, what wind would bring it her, towards
what shore it would drive her, if it would be a shallop or a
three-decker, laden with anguish or full of bliss to the
portholes. But each morning, as she awoke, she hoped it would
come that day; she listened to every sound, sprang up with a
start, wondered that it did not come; then at sunset, always more
saddened, she longed for the morrow.
Spring came round. With the first warm weather, when the pear
trees began to blossom, she suffered from dyspnoea.
From the beginning of July she counted how many weeks there were
to October, thinking that perhaps the Marquis d'Andervilliers
would give another ball at Vaubyessard. But all September passed
without letters or visits.
After the ennui of this disappointment her heart once more
remained empty, and then the same series of days recommenced. So
now they would thus follow one another, always the same,
immovable, and bringing nothing. Other lives, however flat, had
at least the chance of some event. One adventure sometimes
brought with it infinite consequences and the scene changed. But
nothing happened to her; God had willed it so! The future was a
dark corridor, with its door at the end shut fast.
She gave up music. What was the good of playing? Who would hear
her? Since she could never, in a velvet gown with short sleeves,
striking with her light fingers the ivory keys of an Erard at a
concert, feel the murmur of ecstasy envelop her like a breeze, it
was not worth while boring herself with practicing. Her drawing
cardboard and her embroidery she left in the cupboard. What was
the good? What was the good? Sewing irritated her. "I have read
everything," she said to herself. And she sat there making the
tongs red-hot, or looked at the rain falling.
How sad she was on Sundays when vespers sounded! She listened
with dull attention to each stroke of the cracked bell. A cat
slowly walking over some roof put up his back in the pale rays of
the sum. The wind on the highroad blew up clouds of dust. Afar
off a dog sometimes howled; and the bell, keeping time, continued
its monotonous ringing that died away over the fields.
But the people came out from church. The women in waxed clogs,
the peasants in new blouses, the little bare-headed children
skipping along in front of them, all were going home. And till
nightfall, five or six men, always the same, stayed playing at
corks in front of the large door of the inn.
The winter was severe. The windows every morning were covered
with rime, and the light shining through them, dim as through
ground-glass, sometimes did not change the whole day long. At
four o'clock the lamp had to be lighted.
On fine days she went down into the garden. The dew had left on
the cabbages a silver lace with long transparent threads
spreading from one to the other. No birds were to be heard;
everything seemed asleep, the espalier covered with straw, and
the vine, like a great sick serpent under the coping of the wall,
along which, on drawing hear, one saw the many-footed woodlice
crawling. Under the spruce by the hedgerow, the curie in the
three-cornered hat reading his breviary had lost his right foot,
and the very plaster, scaling off with the frost, had left white
scabs on his face.
Then she went up again, shut her door, put on coals, and fainting
with the heat of the hearth, felt her boredom weigh more heavily
than ever. She would have liked to go down and talk to the
servant, but a sense of shame restrained her.
Every day at the same time the schoolmaster in a black skullcap
opened the shutters of his house, and the rural policeman,
wearing his sabre over his blouse, passed by. Night and morning
the post-horses, three by three, crossed the street to water at
the pond. From time to time the bell of a public house door rang,
and when it was windy one could hear the little brass basins that
served as signs for the hairdresser's shop creaking on their two
rods. This shop had as decoration an old engraving of a
fashion-plate stuck against a windowpane and the wax bust of a
woman with yellow hair. He, too, the hairdresser, lamented his
wasted calling, his hopeless future, and dreaming of some shop in
a big town--at Rouen, for example, overlooking the harbour, near
the theatre--he walked up and down all day from the mairie to the
church, sombre and waiting for customers. When Madame Bovary
looked up, she always saw him there, like a sentinel on duty,
with his skullcap over his ears and his vest of lasting.
Sometimes in the afternoon outside the window of her room, the
head of a man appeared, a swarthy head with black whiskers,
smiling slowly, with a broad, gentle smile that showed his white
teeth. A waltz immediately began and on the organ, in a little
drawing room, dancers the size of a finger, women in pink
turbans, Tyrolians in jackets, monkeys in frock coats, gentlemen
in knee-breeches, turned and turned between the sofas, the
consoles, multiplied in the bits of looking glass held together
at their corners by a piece of gold paper. The man turned his
handle, looking to the right and left, and up at the windows. Now
and again, while he shot out a long squirt of brown saliva
against the milestone, with his knee raised his instrument, whose
hard straps tired his shoulder; and now, doleful and drawling, or
gay and hurried, the music escaped from the box, droning through
a curtain of pink taffeta under a brass claw in arabesque. They
were airs played in other places at the theatres, sung in drawing
rooms, danced to at night under lighted lustres, echoes of the
world that reached even to Emma. Endless sarabands ran through
her head, and, like an Indian dancing girl on the flowers of a
carpet, her thoughts leapt with the notes, swung from dream to
dream, from sadness to sadness. When the man had caught some
coppers in his cap, he drew down an old cover of blue cloth,
hitched his organ on to his back, and went off with a heavy
tread. She watched him going.
But it was above all the meal-times that were unbearable to her,
in this small room on the ground floor, with its smoking stove,
its creaking door, the walls that sweated, the damp flags; all
the bitterness in life seemed served up on her plate, and with
smoke of the boiled beef there rose from her secret soul whiffs
of sickliness. Charles was a slow eater; she played with a few
nuts, or, leaning on her elbow, amused herself with drawing lines
along the oilcloth table cover with the point of her knife.
She now let everything in her household take care of itself, and
Madame Bovary senior, when she came to spend part of Lent at
Tostes, was much surprised at the change. She who was formerly so
careful, so dainty, now passed whole days without dressing, wore
grey cotton stockings, and burnt tallow candles. She kept saying
they must be economical since they were not rich, adding that she
was very contented, very happy, that Tostes pleased her very
much, with other speeches that closed the mouth of her
mother-in-law. Besides, Emma no longer seemed inclined to follow
her advice; once even, Madame Bovary having thought fit to
maintain that mistresses ought to keep an eye on the religion of
their servants, she had answered with so angry a look and so cold
a smile that the good woman did not interfere again.
Emma was growing difficult, capricious. She ordered dishes for
herself, then she did not touch them; one day drank only pure
milk, the next cups of tea by the dozen. Often she persisted in
not going out, then, stifling, threw open the windows and put on
light dresses. After she had well scolded her servant she gave
her presents or sent her out to see neighbours, just as she
sometimes threw beggars all the silver in her purse, although she
was by no means tender-hearted or easily accessible to the
feelings of others, like most country-bred people, who always
retain in their souls something of the horny hardness of the
Towards the end of February old Rouault, in memory of his cure,
himself brought his son-in-law a superb turkey, and stayed three
days at Tostes. Charles being with his patients, Emma kept him
company. He smoked in the room, spat on the firedogs, talked
farming, calves, cows, poultry, and municipal council, so that
when he left she closed the door on him with a feeling of
satisfaction that surprised even herself. Moreover she no longer
concealed her contempt for anything or anybody, and at times she
set herself to express singular opinions, finding fault with that
which others approved, and approving things perverse and immoral,
all of which made her husband open his eyes widely.
Would this misery last for ever? Would she never issue from it?
Yet she was as good as all the women who were living happily. She
had seen duchesses at Vaubyessard with clumsier waists and
commoner ways, and she execrated the injustice of God. She leant
her head against the walls to weep; she envied lives of stir;
longed for masked balls, for violent pleasures, with all the
wildness that she did not know, but that these must surely yield.
She grew pale and suffered from palpitations of the heart.
Charles prescribed valerian and camphor baths. Everything that
was tried only seemed to irritate her the more.
On certain days she chatted with feverish rapidity, and this
over-excitement was suddenly followed by a state of torpor, in
which she remained without speaking, without moving. What then
revived her was pouring a bottle of eau-de-cologne over her arms.
As she was constantly complaining about Tostes, Charles fancied
that her illness was no doubt due to some local cause, and fixing
on this idea, began to think seriously of setting up elsewhere.
From that moment she drank vinegar, contracted a sharp little
cough, and completely lost her appetite.
It cost Charles much to give up Tostes after living there four
years and "when he was beginning to get on there." Yet if it must
be! He took her to Rouen to see his old master. It was a nervous
complaint: change of air was needed.
After looking about him on this side and on that, Charles learnt
that in the Neufchatel arrondissement there was a considerable
market town called Yonville-l'Abbaye, whose doctor, a Polish
refugee, had decamped a week before. Then he wrote to the chemist
of the place to ask the number of the population, the distance
from the nearest doctor, what his predecessor had made a year,
and so forth; and the answer being satisfactory, he made up his
mind to move towards the spring, if Emma's health did not
One day when, in view of her departure, she was tidying a drawer,
something pricked her finger. It was a wire of her wedding
bouquet. The orange blossoms were yellow with dust and the silver
bordered satin ribbons frayed at the edges. She threw it into the
fire. It flared up more quickly than dry straw. Then it was, like
a red bush in the cinders, slowly devoured. She watched it burn.
The little pasteboard berries burst, the wire twisted, the gold
lace melted; and the shriveled paper corollas, fluttering like
black butterflies at the back of the stove, at least flew up the
When they left Tostes at the month of March, Madame Bovary was
Yonville-l'Abbaye (so called from an old Capuchin abbey of which
not even the ruins remain) is a market-town twenty-four miles
from Rouen, between the Abbeville and Beauvais roads, at the foot
of a valley watered by the Rieule, a little river that runs into
the Andelle after turning three water-mills near its mouth, where
there are a few trout that the lads amuse themselves by fishing
for on Sundays.
We leave the highroad at La Boissiere and keep straight on to the
top of the Leux hill, whence the valley is seen. The river that
runs through it makes of it, as it were, two regions with
distinct physiognomies--all on the left is pasture land, all of
the right arable. The meadow stretches under a bulge of low hills
to join at the back with the pasture land of the Bray country,
while on the eastern side, the plain, gently rising, broadens
out, showing as far as eye can follow its blond cornfields. The
water, flowing by the grass, divides with a white line the colour
of the roads and of the plains, and the country is like a great
unfolded mantle with a green velvet cape bordered with a fringe
Before us, on the verge of the horizon, lie the oaks of the
forest of Argueil, with the steeps of the Saint-Jean hills
scarred from top to bottom with red irregular lines; they are
rain tracks, and these brick-tones standing out in narrow streaks
against the grey colour of the mountain are due to the quantity
of iron springs that flow beyond in the neighboring country.
Here we are on the confines of Normandy, Picardy, and the
Ile-de-France, a bastard land whose language is without accent
and its landscape is without character. It is there that they
make the worst Neufchatel cheeses of all the arrondissement; and,
on the other hand, farming is costly because so much manure is
needed to enrich this friable soil full of sand and flints.
Up to 1835 there was no practicable road for getting to Yonville,
but about this time a cross-road was made which joins that of
Abbeville to that of Amiens, and is occasionally used by the
Rouen wagoners on their way to Flanders. Yonville-l'Abbaye has
remained stationary in spite of its "new outlet." Instead of
improving the soil, they persist in keeping up the pasture lands,
however depreciated they may be in value, and the lazy borough,
growing away from the plain, has naturally spread riverwards. It
is seem from afar sprawling along the banks like a cowherd taking
a siesta by the water-side.
At the foot of the hill beyond the bridge begins a roadway,
planted with young aspens, that leads in a straight line to the
first houses in the place. These, fenced in by hedges, are in the
middle of courtyards full of straggling buildings, wine-presses,
cart-sheds and distilleries scattered under thick trees, with
ladders, poles, or scythes hung on to the branches. The thatched
roofs, like fur caps drawn over eyes, reach down over about a
third of the low windows, whose coarse convex glasses have knots
in the middle like the bottoms of bottles. Against the plaster
wall diagonally crossed by black joists, a meagre pear-tree
sometimes leans and the ground-floors have at their door a small
swing-gate to keep out the chicks that come pilfering crumbs of
bread steeped in cider on the threshold. But the courtyards grow
narrower, the houses closer together, and the fences disappear; a
bundle of ferns swings under a window from the end of a
broomstick; there is a blacksmith's forge and then a
wheelwright's, with two or three new carts outside that partly
block the way. Then across an open space appears a white house
beyond a grass mound ornamented by a Cupid, his finger on his
lips; two brass vases are at each end of a flight of steps;
scutcheons* blaze upon the door. It is the notary's house, and
the finest in the place.
*The panonceaux that have to be hung over the doors of notaries.
The Church is on the other side of the street, twenty paces
farther down, at the entrance of the square. The little cemetery
that surrounds it, closed in by a wall breast high, is so full of
graves that the old stones, level with the ground, form a
continuous pavement, on which the grass of itself has marked out
regular green squares. The church was rebuilt during the last
years of the reign of Charles X. The wooden roof is beginning to
rot from the top, and here and there has black hollows in its
blue colour. Over the door, where the organ should be, is a loft
for the men, with a spiral staircase that reverberates under
their wooden shoes.
The daylight coming through the plain glass windows falls
obliquely upon the pews ranged along the walls, which are adorned
here and there with a straw mat bearing beneath it the words in
large letters, "Mr. So-and-so's pew." Farther on, at a spot where
the building narrows, the confessional forms a pendant to a
statuette of the Virgin, clothed in a satin robe, coifed with a
tulle veil sprinkled with silver stars, and with red cheeks, like
an idol of the Sandwich Islands; and, finally, a copy of the
"Holy Family, presented by the Minister of the Interior,"
overlooking the high altar, between four candlesticks, closes in
the perspective. The choir stalls, of deal wood, have been left
The market, that is to say, a tiled roof supported by some twenty
posts, occupies of itself about half the public square of
Yonville. The town hall, constructed "from the designs of a Paris
architect," is a sort of Greek temple that forms the corner next
to the chemist's shop. On the ground-floor are three Ionic
columns and on the first floor a semicircular gallery, while the
dome that crowns it is occupied by a Gallic cock, resting one
foot upon the "Charte" and holding in the other the scales of
But that which most attracts the eye is opposite the Lion d'Or
inn, the chemist's shop of Monsieur Homais. In the evening
especially its argand lamp is lit up and the red and green jars
that embellish his shop-front throw far across the street their
two streams of colour; then across them as if in Bengal lights is
seen the shadow of the chemist leaning over his desk. His house
from top to bottom is placarded with inscriptions written in
large hand, round hand, printed hand: "Vichy, Seltzer, Barege
waters, blood purifiers, Raspail patent medicine, Arabian
racahout, Darcet lozenges, Regnault paste, trusses, baths,
hygienic chocolate," etc. And the signboard, which takes up all
the breadth of the shop, bears in gold letters, "Homais,
Chemist." Then at the back of the shop, behind the great scales
fixed to the counter, the word "Laboratory" appears on a scroll
above a glass door, which about half-way up once more repeats
"Homais" in gold letters on a black ground.
Beyond this there is nothing to see at Yonville. The street (the
only one) a gunshot in length and flanked by a few shops on
either side stops short at the turn of the highroad. If it is
left on the right hand and the foot of the Saint-Jean hills
followed the cemetery is soon reached.
At the time of the cholera, in order to enlarge this, a piece of
wall was pulled down, and three acres of land by its side
purchased; but all the new portion is almost tenantless; the
tombs, as heretofore, continue to crowd together towards the
gate. The keeper, who is at once gravedigger and church beadle
(thus making a double profit out of the parish corpses), has
taken advantage of the unused plot of ground to plant potatoes
there. From year to year, however, his small field grows smaller,
and when there is an epidemic, he does not know whether to
rejoice at the deaths or regret the burials.
"You live on the dead, Lestiboudois!" the curie at last said to
him one day. This grim remark made him reflect; it checked him
for some time; but to this day he carries on the cultivation of
his little tubers, and even maintains stoutly that they grow
Since the events about to be narrated, nothing in fact has
changed at Yonville. The tin tricolour flag still swings at the
top of the church-steeple; the two chintz streamers still flutter
in the wind from the linen-draper's; the chemist's fetuses, like
lumps of white amadou, rot more and more in their turbid alcohol,
and above the big door of the inn the old golden lion, faded by
rain, still shows passers-by its poodle mane.
On the evening when the Bovarys were to arrive at Yonville, Widow
Lefrancois, the landlady of this inn, was so very busy that she
sweated great drops as she moved her saucepans. To-morrow was
market-day. The meat had to be cut beforehand, the fowls drawn,
the soup and coffee made. Moreover, she had the boarders' meal to
see to, and that of the doctor, his wife, and their servant; the
billiard-room was echoing with bursts of laughter; three millers
in a small parlour were calling for brandy; the wood was blazing,
the brazen pan was hissing, and on the long kitchen table, amid
the quarters of raw mutton, rose piles of plates that rattled
with the shaking of the block on which spinach was being chopped.
From the poultry-yard was heard the screaming of the fowls whom
the servant was chasing in order to wring their necks.
A man slightly marked with small-pox, in green leather slippers,
and wearing a velvet cap with a gold tassel, was warming his back
at the chimney. His face expressed nothing but self-satisfaction,
and he appeared to take life as calmly as the goldfinch suspended
over his head in its wicker cage: this was the chemist.
"Artemise!" shouted the landlady, "chop some wood, fill the water
bottles, bring some brandy, look sharp! If only I knew what
dessert to offer the guests you are expecting! Good heavens!
Those furniture-movers are beginning their racket in the
billiard-room again; and their van has been left before the front
door! The 'Hirondelle' might run into it when it draws up. Call
Polyte and tell him to put it up. Only think, Monsieur Homais,
that since morning they have had about fifteen games, and drunk
eight jars of cider! Why, they'll tear my cloth for me," she went
on, looking at them from a distance, her strainer in her hand.
"That wouldn't be much of a loss," replied Monsieur Homais. "You
would buy another."
"Another billiard-table!" exclaimed the widow.
"Since that one is coming to pieces, Madame Lefrancois. I tell
you again you are doing yourself harm, much harm! And besides,
players now want narrow pockets and heavy cues. Hazards aren't
played now; everything is changed! One must keep pace with the
times! Just look at Tellier!"
The hostess reddened with vexation. The chemist went on--
"You may say what you like; his table is better than yours; and
if one were to think, for example, of getting up a patriotic pool
for Poland or the sufferers from the Lyons floods--"
"It isn't beggars like him that'll frighten us," interrupted the
landlady, shrugging her fat shoulders. "Come, come, Monsieur
Homais; as long as the 'Lion d'Or' exists people will come to it.
We've feathered our nest; while one of these days you'll find the
'Cafe Francais' closed with a big placard on the shutters. Change
my billiard-table!" she went on, speaking to herself, "the table
that comes in so handy for folding the washing, and on which, in
the hunting season, I have slept six visitors! But that dawdler,
Hivert, doesn't come!"
"Are you waiting for him for your gentlemen's dinner?"
"Wait for him! And what about Monsieur Binet? As the clock
strikes six you'll see him come in, for he hasn't his equal under
the sun for punctuality. He must always have his seat in the
small parlour. He'd rather die than dine anywhere else. And so
squeamish as he is, and so particular about the cider! Not like
Monsieur Leon; he sometimes comes at seven, or even half-past,
and he doesn't so much as look at what he eats. Such a nice young
man! Never speaks a rough word!"
"Well, you see, there's a great difference between an educated
man and an old carabineer who is now a tax-collector."
Six o'clock struck. Binet came in.
He wore a blue frock-coat falling in a straight line round his
thin body, and his leather cap, with its lappets knotted over the
top of his head with string, showed under the turned-up peak a
bald forehead, flattened by the constant wearing of a helmet. He
wore a black cloth waistcoat, a hair collar, grey trousers, and,
all the year round, well-blacked boots, that had two parallel
swellings due to the sticking out of his big-toes. Not a hair
stood out from the regular line of fair whiskers, which,
encircling his jaws, framed, after the fashion of a garden
border, his long, wan face, whose eyes were small and the nose
hooked. Clever at all games of cards, a good hunter, and writing
a fine hand, he had at home a lathe, and amused himself by
turning napkin rings, with which he filled up his house, with the
jealousy of an artist and the egotism of a bourgeois.
He went to the small parlour, but the three millers had to be got
out first, and during the whole time necessary for laying the
cloth, Binet remained silent in his place near the stove. Then he
shut the door and took off his cap in his usual way.
"It isn't with saying civil things that he'll wear out his
tongue," said the chemist, as soon as he was along with the
"He never talks more," she replied. "Last week two travelers in
the cloth line were here--such clever chaps who told such jokes
in the evening, that I fairly cried with laughing; and he stood
there like a dab fish and never said a word."
"Yes," observed the chemist; "no imagination, no sallies, nothing
that makes the society-man."
"Yet they say he has parts," objected the landlady.
"Parts!" replied Monsieur Homais; "he, parts! In his own line it
is possible," he added in a calmer tone. And he went on--
"Ah! That a merchant, who has large connections, a jurisconsult,
a doctor, a chemist, should be thus absent-minded, that they
should become whimsical or even peevish, I can understand; such
cases are cited in history. But at least it is because they are
thinking of something. Myself, for example, how often has it
happened to me to look on the bureau for my pen to write a label,
and to find, after all, that I had put it behind my ear!"
Madame Lefrancois just then went to the door to see if the
"Hirondelle" were not coming. She started. A man dressed in black
suddenly came into the kitchen. By the last gleam of the twilight
one could see that his face was rubicund and his form athletic.
"What can I do for you, Monsieur le Curie?" asked the landlady,
as she reached down from the chimney one of the copper
candlesticks placed with their candles in a row. "Will you take
something? A thimbleful of Cassis*? A glass of wine?"
*Black currant liqueur.
The priest declined very politely. He had come for his umbrella,
that he had forgotten the other day at the Ernemont convent, and
after asking Madame Lefrancois to have it sent to him at the
presbytery in the evening, he left for the church, from which the
Angelus was ringing.
When the chemist no longer heard the noise of his boots along the
square, he thought the priest's behaviour just now very
unbecoming. This refusal to take any refreshment seemed to him
the most odious hypocrisy; all priests tippled on the sly, and
were trying to bring back the days of the tithe.
The landlady took up the defence of her curie.
"Besides, he could double up four men like you over his knee.
Last year he helped our people to bring in the straw; he carried
as many as six trusses at once, he is so strong."
"Bravo!" said the chemist. "Now just send your daughters to
confess to fellows which such a temperament! I, if I were the
Government, I'd have the priests bled once a month. Yes, Madame
Lefrancois, every month--a good phlebotomy, in the interests of
the police and morals."
"Be quiet, Monsieur Homais. You are an infidel; you've no
The chemist answered: "I have a religion, my religion, and I even
have more than all these others with their mummeries and their
juggling. I adore God, on the contrary. I believe in the Supreme
Being, in a Creator, whatever he may be. I care little who has
placed us here below to fulfil our duties as citizens and fathers
of families; but I don't need to go to church to kiss silver
plates, and fatten, out of my pocket, a lot of good-for-nothings
who live better than we do. For one can know Him as well in a
wood, in a field, or even contemplating the eternal vault like
the ancients. My God! Mine is the God of Socrates, of Franklin,
of Voltaire, and of Beranger! I am for the profession of faith of
the 'Savoyard Vicar,' and the immortal principles of '89! And I
can't admit of an old boy of a God who takes walks in his garden
with a cane in his hand, who lodges his friends in the belly of
whales, dies uttering a cry, and rises again at the end of three
days; things absurd in themselves, and completely opposed,
moreover, to all physical laws, which prove to us, by the way,
that priests have always wallowed in turpid ignorance, in which
they would fain engulf the people with them."
He ceased, looking round for an audience, for in his bubbling
over the chemist had for a moment fancied himself in the midst of
the town council. But the landlady no longer heeded him; she was
listening to a distant rolling. One could distinguish the noise
of a carriage mingled with the clattering of loose horseshoes
that beat against the ground, and at last the "Hirondelle"
stopped at the door.
It was a yellow box on two large wheels, that, reaching to the
tilt, prevented travelers from seeing the road and dirtied their
shoulders. The small panes of the narrow windows rattled in their
sashes when the coach was closed, and retained here and there
patches of mud amid the old layers of dust, that not even storms
of rain had altogether washed away. It was drawn by three horses,
the first a leader, and when it came down-hill its bottom jolted
against the ground.
Some of the inhabitants of Yonville came out into the square;
they all spoke at once, asking for news, for explanations, for
hampers. Hivert did not know whom to answer. It was he who did
the errands of the place in town. He went to the shops and
brought back rolls of leather for the shoemaker, old iron for the
farrier, a barrel of herrings for his mistress, caps from the
milliner's, locks from the hair-dresser's and all along the road
on his return journey he distributed his parcels, which he threw,
standing upright on his seat and shouting at the top of his
voice, over the enclosures of the yards.
An accident had delayed him. Madame Bovary's greyhound had run
across the field. They had whistled for him a quarter of an hour;
Hivert had even gone back a mile and a half expecting every
moment to catch sight of her; but it had been necessary to go on.
Emma had wept, grown angry; she had accused Charles of this
misfortune. Monsieur Lheureux, a draper, who happened to be in
the coach with her, had tried to console her by a number of
examples of lost dogs recognizing their masters at the end of
long years. One, he said had been told of, who had come back to
Paris from Constantinople. Another had gone one hundred and fifty
miles in a straight line, and swum four rivers; and his own
father had possessed a poodle, which, after twelve years of
absence, had all of a sudden jumped on his back in the street as
he was going to dine in town.
Emma got out first, then Felicite, Monsieur Lheureux, and a
nurse, and they had to wake up Charles in his corner, where he
had slept soundly since night set in.
Homais introduced himself; he offered his homages to madame and
his respects to monsieur; said he was charmed to have been able
to render them some slight service, and added with a cordial air
that he had ventured to invite himself, his wife being away.
When Madame Bovary was in the kitchen she went up to the chimney.
With the tips of her fingers she caught her dress at the knee,
and having thus pulled it up to her ankle, held out her foot in
its black boot to the fire above the revolving leg of mutton. The
flame lit up the whole of her, penetrating with a crude light the
woof of her gowns, the fine pores of her fair skin, and even her
eyelids, which she blinked now and again. A great red glow passed
over her with the blowing of the wind through the half-open door.
On the other side of the chimney a young man with fair hair
watched her silently.
As he was a good deal bored at Yonville, where he was a clerk at
the notary's, Monsieur Guillaumin, Monsieur Leon Dupuis (it was
he who was the second habitue of the "Lion d'Or") frequently put
back his dinner-hour in hope that some traveler might come to the
inn, with whom he could chat in the evening. On the days when his
work was done early, he had, for want of something else to do, to
come punctually, and endure from soup to cheese a tete-a-tete
with Binet. It was therefore with delight that he accepted the
landlady's suggestion that he should dine in company with the
newcomers, and they passed into the large parlour where Madame
Lefrancois, for the purpose of showing off, had had the table
laid for four.
Homais asked to be allowed to keep on his skull-cap, for fear of
coryza; then, turning to his neighbour--
"Madame is no doubt a little fatigued; one gets jolted so
abominably in our 'Hirondelle.'"
"That is true," replied Emma; "but moving about always amuses me.
I like change of place."
"It is so tedious," sighed the clerk, "to be always riveted to
the same places."
"If you were like me," said Charles, "constantly obliged to be in
"But," Leon went on, addressing himself to Madame Bovary,
"nothing, it seems to me, is more pleasant--when one can," he
"Moreover," said the druggist, "the practice of medicine is not
very hard work in our part of the world, for the state of our
roads allows us the use of gigs, and generally, as the farmers
are prosperous, they pay pretty well. We have, medically
speaking, besides the ordinary cases of enteritis, bronchitis,
bilious affections, etc., now and then a few intermittent fevers
at harvest-time; but on the whole, little of a serious nature,
nothing special to note, unless it be a great deal of scrofula,
due, no doubt, to the deplorable hygienic conditions of our
peasant dwellings. Ah! you will find many prejudices to combat,
Monsieur Bovary, much obstinacy of routine, with which all the
efforts of your science will daily come into collision; for
people still have recourse to novenas, to relics, to the priest,
rather than come straight to the doctor or the chemist. The
climate, however, is not, truth to tell, bad, and we even have a
few nonagenarians in our parish. The thermometer (I have made
some observations) falls in winter to 4 degrees Centigrade at the
outside, which gives us 24 degrees Reaumur as the maximum, or
otherwise 54 degrees Fahrenheit (English scale), not more. And,
as a matter of fact, we are sheltered from the north winds by the
forest of Argueil on the one side, from the west winds by the St.
Jean range on the other; and this heat, moreover, which, on
account of the aqueous vapours given off by the river and the
considerable number of cattle in the fields, which, as you know,
exhale much ammonia, that is to say, nitrogen, hydrogen and
oxygen (no, nitrogen and hydrogen alone), and which sucking up
into itself the humus from the ground, mixing together all those
different emanations, unites them into a stack, so to say, and
combining with the electricity diffused through the atmosphere,
when there is any, might in the long run, as in tropical
countries, engender insalubrious miasmata--this heat, I say,
finds itself perfectly tempered on the side whence it comes, or
rather whence it should come--that is to say, the southern side--
by the south-eastern winds, which, having cooled themselves
passing over the Seine, reach us sometimes all at once like
breezes from Russia."
"At any rate, you have some walks in the neighbourhood?"
continued Madame Bovary, speaking to the young man.
"Oh, very few," he answered. "There is a place they call La
Pature, on the top of the hill, on the edge of the forest.
Sometimes, on Sundays, I go and stay there with a book, watching
"I think there is nothing so admirable as sunsets," she resumed;
"but especially by the side of the sea."
"Oh, I adore the sea!" said Monsieur Leon.
"And then, does it not seem to you," continued Madame Bovary,
"that the mind travels more freely on this limitless expanse, the
contemplation of which elevates the soul, gives ideas of the
infinite, the ideal?"
"It is the same with mountainous landscapes," continued Leon. "A
cousin of mine who travelled in Switzerland last year told me
that one could not picture to oneself the poetry of the lakes,
the charm of the waterfalls, the gigantic effect of the glaciers.
One sees pines of incredible size across torrents, cottages
suspended over precipices, and, a thousand feet below one, whole
valleys when the clouds open. Such spectacles must stir to
enthusiasm, incline to prayer, to ecstasy; and I no longer marvel
at that celebrated musician who, the better to inspire his
imagination, was in the habit of playing the piano before some
"You play?" she asked.
"No, but I am very fond of music," he replied.
"Ah! don't you listen to him, Madame Bovary," interrupted Homais,
bending over his plate. "That's sheer modesty. Why, my dear
fellow, the other day in your room you were singing 'L'Ange
Gardien' ravishingly. I heard you from the laboratory. You gave
it like an actor."
Leon, in fact, lodged at the chemist's where he had a small room
on the second floor, overlooking the Place. He blushed at the
compliment of his landlord, who had already turned to the doctor,
and was enumerating to him, one after the other, all the
principal inhabitants of Yonville. He was telling anecdotes,
giving information; the fortune of the notary was not known
exactly, and "there was the Tuvache household," who made a good
deal of show.
Emma continued, "And what music do you prefer?"
"Oh, German music; that which makes you dream."
"Have you been to the opera?"
"Not yet; but I shall go next year, when I am living at Paris to
finish reading for the bar."
"As I had the honour of putting it to your husband," said the
chemist, "with regard to this poor Yanoda who has run away, you
will find yourself, thanks to his extravagance, in the possession
of one of the most comfortable houses of Yonville. Its greatest
convenience for a doctor is a door giving on the Walk, where one
can go in and out unseen. Moreover, it contains everything that
is agreeable in a household--a laundry, kitchen with offices,
sitting-room, fruit-room, and so on. He was a gay dog, who didn't
care what he spent. At the end of the garden, by the side of the
water, he had an arbour built just for the purpose of drinking
beer in summer; and if madame is fond of gardening she will be
"My wife doesn't care about it," said Charles; "although she has
been advised to take exercise, she prefers always sitting in her
"Like me," replied Leon. "And indeed, what is better than to sit
by one's fireside in the evening with a book, while the wind
beats against the window and the lamp is burning?"
"What, indeed?" she said, fixing her large black eyes wide open
"One thinks of nothing," he continued; "the hours slip by.
Motionless we traverse countries we fancy we see, and your
thought, blending with the fiction, playing with the details,
follows the outline of the adventures. It mingles with the
characters, and it seems as if it were yourself palpitating
beneath their costumes."
"That is true! That is true?" she said.
"Has it ever happened to you," Leon went on, "to come across some
vague idea of one's own in a book, some dim image that comes back
to you from afar, and as the completest expression of your own
"I have experienced it," she replied.
"That is why," he said, "I especially love the poets. I think
verse more tender than prose, and that it moves far more easily
"Still in the long run it is tiring," continued Emma. Now I, on
the contrary, adore stories that rush breathlessly along, that
frighten one. I detest commonplace heroes and moderate
sentiments, such as there are in nature."
"In fact," observed the clerk, "these works, not touching the
heart, miss, it seems to me, the true end of art. It is so sweet,
amid all the disenchantments of life, to be able to dwell in
thought upon noble characters, pure affections, and pictures of
happiness. For myself, living here far from the world, this is my
one distraction; but Yonville affords so few resources."
"Like Tostes, no doubt," replied Emma; "and so I always
subscribed to a lending library."
"If madame will do me the honour of making use of it", said the
chemist, who had just caught the last words, "I have at her
disposal a library composed of the best authors, Voltaire,
Rousseau, Delille, Walter Scott, the 'Echo des Feuilletons'; and
in addition I receive various periodicals, among them the 'Fanal
de Rouen' daily, having the advantage to be its correspondent for
the districts of Buchy, Forges, Neufchatel, Yonville, and
For two hours and a half they had been at table; for the servant
Artemis, carelessly dragging her old list slippers over the
flags, brought one plate after the other, forgot everything, and
constantly left the door of the billiard-room half open, so that
it beat against the wall with its hooks.
Unconsciously, Leon, while talking, had placed his foot on one of
the bars of the chair on which Madame Bovary was sitting. She
wore a small blue silk necktie, that kept up like a ruff a
gauffered cambric collar, and with the movements of her head the
lower part of her face gently sunk into the linen or came out
from it. Thus side by side, while Charles and the chemist
chatted, they entered into one of those vague conversations where
the hazard of all that is said brings you back to the fixed
centre of a common sympathy. The Paris theatres, titles of
novels, new quadrilles, and the world they did not know; Tostes,
where she had lived, and Yonville, where they were; they examined
all, talked of everything till to the end of dinner.
When coffee was served Felicite went away to get ready the room
in the new house, and the guests soon raised the siege. Madame
Lefrancois was asleep near the cinders, while the stable-boy,
lantern in hand, was waiting to show Monsieur and Madame Bovary
the way home. Bits of straw stuck in his red hair, and he limped
with his left leg. When he had taken in his other hand the cure's
umbrella, they started.
The town was asleep; the pillars of the market threw great
shadows; the earth was all grey as on a summer's night. But as
the doctor's house was only some fifty paces from the inn, they
had to say good-night almost immediately, and the company
As soon as she entered the passage, Emma felt the cold of the
plaster fall about her shoulders like damp linen. The walls were
new and the wooden stairs creaked. In their bedroom, on the first
floor, a whitish light passed through the curtainless windows.
She could catch glimpses of tree tops, and beyond, the fields,
half-drowned in the fog that lay reeking in the moonlight along
the course of the river. In the middle of the room, pell-mell,
were scattered drawers, bottles, curtain-rods, gilt poles, with
mattresses on the chairs and basins on the ground--the two men
who had brought the furniture had left everything about
This was the fourth time that she had slept in a strange place.
The first was the day of her going to the convent; the second, of
her arrival at Tostes; the third, at Vaubyessard; and this was
the fourth. And each one had marked, as it were, the inauguration
of a new phase in her life. She did not believe that things could
present themselves in the same way in different places, and since
the portion of her life lived had been bad, no doubt that which
remained to be lived would be better.
The next day, as she was getting up, she saw the clerk on the
Place. She had on a dressing-gown. He looked up and bowed. She
nodded quickly and reclosed the window.
Leon waited all day for six o'clock in the evening to come, but
on going to the inn, he found no one but Monsieur Binet, already
at table. The dinner of the evening before had been a
considerable event for him; he had never till then talked for two
hours consecutively to a "lady." How then had he been able to
explain, and in such language, the number of things that he could
not have said so well before? He was usually shy, and maintained
that reserve which partakes at once of modesty and dissimulation.
At Yonville he was considered "well-bred." He listened to the
arguments of the older people, and did not seem hot about
politics--a remarkable thing for a young man. Then he had some
accomplishments; he painted in water-colours, could read the key
of G, and readily talked literature after dinner when he did not
play cards. Monsieur Homais respected him for his education;
Madame Homais liked him for his good-nature, for he often took
the little Homais into the garden--little brats who were always
dirty, very much spoilt, and somewhat lymphatic, like their
mother. Besides the servant to look after them, they had Justin,
the chemist's apprentice, a second cousin of Monsieur Homais, who
had been taken into the house from charity, and who was useful at
the same time as a servant.
The druggist proved the best of neighbours. He gave Madame Bovary
information as to the trades-people, sent expressly for his own
cider merchant, tasted the drink himself, and saw that the casks
were properly placed in the cellar; he explained how to set about
getting in a supply of butter cheap, and made an arrangement with
Lestiboudois, the sacristan, who, besides his sacerdotal and
funeral functions, looked after the principal gardens at Yonville
by the hour or the year, according to the taste of the customers.
The need of looking after others was not the only thing that
urged the chemist to such obsequious cordiality; there was a plan
underneath it all.
He had infringed the law of the 19th Ventose, year xi., article
I, which forbade all persons not having a diploma to practise
medicine; so that, after certain anonymous denunciations, Homais
had been summoned to Rouen to see the procurer of the king in his
own private room; the magistrate receiving him standing up,
ermine on shoulder and cap on head. It was in the morning, before
the court opened. In the corridors one heard the heavy boots of
the gendarmes walking past, and like a far-off noise great locks
that were shut. The druggist's ears tingled as if he were about
to have an apoplectic stroke; he saw the depths of dungeons, his
family in tears, his shop sold, all the jars dispersed; and he
was obliged to enter a cafe and take a glass of rum and seltzer
to recover his spirits.
Little by little the memory of this reprimand grew fainter, and
he continued, as heretofore, to give anodyne consultations in his
back-parlour. But the mayor resented it, his colleagues were
jealous, everything was to be feared; gaining over Monsieur
Bovary by his attentions was to earn his gratitude, and prevent
his speaking out later on, should he notice anything. So every
morning Homais brought him "the paper," and often in the
afternoon left his shop for a few moments to have a chat with the
Charles was dull: patients did not come. He remained seated for
hours without speaking, went into his consulting room to sleep,
or watched his wife sewing. Then for diversion he employed
himself at home as a workman; he even tried to do up the attic
with some paint which had been left behind by the painters. But
money matters worried him. He had spent so much for repairs at
Tostes, for madame's toilette, and for the moving, that the whole
dowry, over three thousand crowns, had slipped away in two years.
Then how many things had been spoilt or lost during their
carriage from Tostes to Yonville, without counting the plaster
cure, who falling out of the coach at an over-severe jolt, had
been dashed into a thousand fragments on the pavements of
Quincampoix! A pleasanter trouble came to distract him, namely,
the pregnancy of his wife. As the time of her confinement
approached he cherished her the more. It was another bond of the
flesh establishing itself, and, as it were, a continued sentiment
of a more complex union. When from afar he saw her languid walk,
and her figure without stays turning softly on her hips; when
opposite one another he looked at her at his ease, while she took
tired poses in her armchair, then his happiness knew no bounds;
he got up, embraced her, passed his hands over her face, called
her little mamma, wanted to make her dance, and half-laughing,
half-crying, uttered all kinds of caressing pleasantries that
came into his head. The idea of having begotten a child delighted
him. Now he wanted nothing. He knew human life from end to end,
and he sat down to it with serenity.
Emma at first felt a great astonishment; then was anxious to be
delivered that she might know what it was to be a mother. But not
being able to spend as much as she would have liked, to have a
swing-bassinette with rose silk curtains, and embroidered caps,
in a fit of bitterness she gave up looking after the trousseau,
and ordered the whole of it from a village needlewoman, without
choosing or discussing anything. Thus she did not amuse herself
with those preparations that stimulate the tenderness of mothers,
and so her affection was from the very outset, perhaps, to some
As Charles, however, spoke of the boy at every meal, she soon
began to think of him more consecutively.
She hoped for a son; he would be strong and dark; she would call
him George; and this idea of having a male child was like an
expected revenge for all her impotence in the past. A man, at
least, is free; he may travel over passions and over countries,
overcome obstacles, taste of the most far-away pleasures. But a
woman is always hampered. At once inert and flexible, she has
against her the weakness of the flesh and legal dependence. Her
will, like the veil of her bonnet, held by a string, flutters in
every wind; there is always some desire that draws her, some
conventionality that restrains.
She was confined on a Sunday at about six o'clock, as the sun was
"It is a girl!" said Charles.
She turned her head away and fainted.
Madame Homais, as well as Madame Lefrancois of the Lion d'Or,
almost immediately came running in to embrace her. The chemist,
as man of discretion, only offered a few provincial felicitations
through the half-opened door. He wished to see the child and
thought it well made.
Whilst she was getting well she occupied herself much in seeking
a name for her daughter. First she went over all those that have
Italian endings, such as Clara, Louisa, Amanda, Atala; she liked
Galsuinde pretty well, and Yseult or Leocadie still better.
Charles wanted the child to be called after her mother; Emma
opposed this. They ran over the calendar from end to end, and
then consulted outsiders.
"Monsieur Leon," said the chemist, "with whom I was talking about
it the other day, wonders you do not chose Madeleine. It is very
much in fashion just now."
But Madame Bovary, senior, cried out loudly against this name of
a sinner. As to Monsieur Homais, he had a preference for all
those that recalled some great man, an illustrious fact, or a
generous idea, and it was on this system that he had baptized his
four children. Thus Napoleon represented glory and Franklin
liberty; Irma was perhaps a concession to romanticism, but
Athalie was a homage to the greatest masterpiece of the French
stage. For his philosophical convictions did not interfere with
his artistic tastes; in him the thinker did not stifle the man of
sentiment; he could make distinctions, make allowances for
imagination and fanaticism. In this tragedy, for example, he
found fault with the ideas, but admired the style; he detested
the conception, but applauded all the details, and loathed the
characters while he grew enthusiastic over their dialogue. When
he read the fine passages he was transported, but when he thought
that mummers would get something out of them for their show, he
was disconsolate; and in this confusion of sentiments in which he
was involved he would have liked at once to crown Racine with both
his hands and discuss with him for a good quarter of an hour.
At last Emma remembered that at the chateau of Vaubyessard she
had heard the Marchioness call a young lady Berthe; from that
moment this name was chosen; and as old Rouault could not come,
Monsieur Homais was requested to stand godfather. His gifts were
all products from his establishment, to wit: six boxes of
jujubes, a whole jar of racahout, three cakes of marshmallow
paste, and six sticks of sugar-candy into the bargain that he had
come across in a cupboard. On the evening of the ceremony there
was a grand dinner; the cure was present; there was much
excitement. Monsieur Homais towards liqueur-time began singing
"Le Dieu des bonnes gens." Monsieur Leon sang a barcarolle, and
Madame Bovary, senior, who was godmother, a romance of the time
of the Empire; finally, M. Bovary, senior, insisted on having the
child brought down, and began baptizing it with a glass of
champagne that he poured over its head. This mockery of the first
of the sacraments made the Abbe Bournisien angry; old Bovary
replied by a quotation from "La Guerre des Dieux"; the cure
wanted to leave; the ladies implored, Homais interfered; and they
succeeded in making the priest sit down again, and he quietly
went on with the half-finished coffee in his saucer.
Monsieur Bovary, senior, stayed at Yonville a month, dazzling the
natives by a superb policeman's cap with silver tassels that he
wore in the morning when he smoked his pipe in the square. Being
also in the habit of drinking a good deal of brandy, he often
sent the servant to the Lion d'Or to buy him a bottle, which was
put down to his son's account, and to perfume his handkerchiefs
he used up his daughter-in-law's whole supply of eau-de-cologne.
The latter did not at all dislike his company. He had knocked
about the world, he talked about Berlin, Vienna, and Strasbourg,
of his soldier times, of the mistresses he had had, the grand
luncheons of which he had partaken; then he was amiable, and
sometimes even, either on the stairs, or in the garden, would
seize hold of her waist, crying, "Charles, look out for
Then Madame Bovary, senior, became alarmed for her son's
happiness, and fearing that her husband might in the long-run
have an immoral influence upon the ideas of the young woman, took
care to hurry their departure. Perhaps she had more serious
reasons for uneasiness. Monsieur Bovary was not the man to
One day Emma was suddenly seized with the desire to see her
little girl, who had been put to nurse with the carpenter's wife,
and, without looking at the calendar to see whether the six weeks
of the Virgin were yet passed, she set out for the Rollets'
house, situated at the extreme end of the village, between the
highroad and the fields.
It was mid-day, the shutters of the houses were closed and the
slate roofs that glittered beneath the fierce light of the blue
sky seemed to strike sparks from the crest of the gables. A heavy
wind was blowing; Emma felt weak as she walked; the stones of the
pavement hurt her; she was doubtful whether she would not go home
again, or go in somewhere to rest.
At this moment Monsieur Leon came out from a neighbouring door
with a bundle of papers under his arm. He came to greet her, and
stood in the shade in front of the Lheureux's shop under the
projecting grey awning.
Madame Bovary said she was going to see her baby, but that she
was beginning to grow tired.
"If--" said Leon, not daring to go on.
"Have you any business to attend to?" she asked.
And on the clerk's answer, she begged him to accompany her. That
same evening this was known in Yonville, and Madame Tuvache, the
mayor's wife, declared in the presence of her servant that
"Madame Bovary was compromising herself."
To get to the nurse's it was necessary to turn to the left on
leaving the street, as if making for the cemetery, and to follow
between little houses and yards a small path bordered with privet
hedges. They were in bloom, and so were the speedwells,
eglantines, thistles, and the sweetbriar that sprang up from the
thickets. Through openings in the hedges one could see into the
huts, some pigs on a dung-heap, or tethered cows rubbing their
horns against the trunk of trees. The two, side by side walked
slowly, she leaning upon him, and he restraining his pace, which
he regulated by hers; in front of them a swarm of midges
fluttered, buzzing in the warm air.
They recognized the house by an old walnut-tree which shaded it.
Low and covered with brown tiles, there hung outside it, beneath
the dormer-window of the garret, a string of onions. Faggots
upright against a thorn fence surrounded a bed of lettuce, a few
square feet of lavender, and sweet peas strung on sticks. Dirty
water was running here and there on the grass, and all round were
several indefinite rags, knitted stockings, a red calico jacket,
and a large sheet of coarse linen spread over the hedge. At the
noise of the gate the nurse appeared with a baby she was suckling
on one arm. With her other hand she was pulling along a poor puny
little fellow, his face covered with scrofula, the son of a Rouen
hosier, whom his parents, too taken up with their business, left
in the country.
"Go in," she said; "your little one is there asleep."
The room on the ground-floor, the only one in the dwelling, had
at its farther end, against the wall, a large bed without
curtains, while a kneading-trough took up the side by the window,
one pane of which was mended with a piece of blue paper. In the
corner behind the door, shining hob-nailed shoes stood in a row
under the slab of the washstand, near a bottle of oil with a
feather stuck in its mouth; a Matthieu Laensberg lay on the dusty
mantelpiece amid gunflints, candle-ends, and bits of amadou.
Finally, the last luxury in the apartment was a "Fame" blowing
her trumpets, a picture cut out, no doubt, from some perfumer's
prospectus and nailed to the wall with six wooden shoe-pegs.
Emma's child was asleep in a wicker-cradle. She took it up in the
wrapping that enveloped it and began singing softly as she rocked
herself to and fro.
Leon walked up and down the room; it seemed strange to him to see
this beautiful woman in her nankeen dress in the midst of all
this poverty. Madam Bovary reddened; he turned away, thinking
perhaps there had been an impertinent look in his eyes. Then she
put back the little girl, who had just been sick over her collar.
The nurse at once came to dry her, protesting that it wouldn't
"She gives me other doses," she said: "I am always a-washing of
her. If you would have the goodness to order Camus, the grocer,
to let me have a little soap, it would really be more convenient
for you, as I needn't trouble you then."
"Very well! very well!" said Emma. "Good morning, Madame Rollet,"
and she went out, wiping her shoes at the door.
The good woman accompanied her to the end of the garden, talking
all the time of the trouble she had getting up of nights.
"I'm that worn out sometimes as I drop asleep on my chair. I'm
sure you might at least give me just a pound of ground coffee;
that'd last me a month, and I'd take it of a morning with some
After having submitted to her thanks, Madam Bovary left. She had
gone a little way down the path when, at the sound of wooden
shoes, she turned round. It was the nurse.
"What is it?"
Then the peasant woman, taking her aside behind an elm tree,
began talking to her of her husband, who with his trade and six
francs a year that the captain--
"Oh, be quick!" said Emma.
"Well," the nurse went on, heaving sighs between each word, "I'm
afraid he'll be put out seeing me have coffee alone, you know
"But you are to have some," Emma repeated; "I will give you some.
You bother me!"
"Oh, dear! my poor, dear lady! you see in consequence of his
wounds he has terrible cramps in the chest. He even says that
cider weakens him."
"Do make haste, Mere Rollet!"
"Well," the latter continued, making a curtsey, "if it weren't
asking too much," and she curtsied once more, "if you would"--and
her eyes begged--"a jar of brandy," she said at last, "and I'd
rub your little one's feet with it; they're as tender as one's
Once rid of the nurse, Emma again took Monsieur Leon's arm. She
walked fast for some time, then more slowly, and looking straight
in front of her, her eyes rested on the shoulder of the young
man, whose frock-coat had a black-velvety collar. His brown hair
fell over it, straight and carefully arranged. She noticed his
nails which were longer than one wore them at Yonville. It was
one of the clerk's chief occupations to trim them, and for this
purpose he kept a special knife in his writing desk.
They returned to Yonville by the water-side. In the warm season
the bank, wider than at other times, showed to their foot the
garden walls whence a few steps led to the river. It flowed
noiselessly, swift, and cold to the eye; long, thin grasses
huddled together in it as the current drove them, and spread
themselves upon the limpid water like streaming hair; sometimes
at the tip of the reeds or on the leaf of a water-lily an insect
with fine legs crawled or rested. The sun pierced with a ray the
small blue bubbles of the waves that, breaking, followed each
other; branchless old willows mirrored their grey backs in the
water; beyond, all around, the meadows seemed empty. It was the
dinner-hour at the farms, and the young woman and her companion
heard nothing as they walked but the fall of their steps on the
earth of the path, the words they spoke, and the sound of Emma's
dress rustling round her.
The walls of the gardens with pieces of bottle on their coping
were hot as the glass windows of a conservatory. Wallflowers had
sprung up between the bricks, and with the tip of her open
sunshade Madame Bovary, as she passed, made some of their faded
flowers crumble into a yellow dust, or a spray of overhanging
honeysuckle and clematis caught in its fringe and dangled for a
moment over the silk.
They were talking of a troupe of Spanish dancers who were
expected shortly at the Rouen theatre.
"Are you going?" she asked.
"If I can," he answered.
Had they nothing else to say to one another? Yet their eyes were
full of more serious speech, and while they forced themselves to
find trivial phrases, they felt the same languor stealing over
them both. It was the whisper of the soul, deep, continuous,
dominating that of their voices. Surprised with wonder at this
strange sweetness, they did not think of speaking of the
sensation or of seeking its cause. Coming joys, like tropical
shores, throw over the immensity before them their inborn
softness, an odorous wind, and we are lulled by this intoxication
without a thought of the horizon that we do not even know.
In one place the ground had been trodden down by the cattle; they
had to step on large green stones put here and there in the mud.
She often stopped a moment to look where to place her foot, and
tottering on a stone that shook, her arms outspread, her form
bent forward with a look of indecision, she would laugh, afraid
of falling into the puddles of water.
When they arrived in front of her garden, Madame Bovary opened
the little gate, ran up the steps and disappeared.
Leon returned to his office. His chief was away; he just glanced
at the briefs, then cut himself a pen, and at last took up his
hat and went out.
He went to La Pature at the top of the Argueil hills at the
beginning of the forest; he threw himself upon the ground under
the pines and watched the sky through his fingers.
"How bored I am!" he said to himself, "how bored I am!"
He thought he was to be pitied for living in this village, with
Homais for a friend and Monsieru Guillaumin for master. The
latter, entirely absorbed by his business, wearing gold-rimmed
spectacles and red whiskers over a white cravat, understood
nothing of mental refinements, although he affected a stiff
English manner, which in the beginning had impressed the clerk.
As to the chemist's spouse, she was the best wife in Normandy,
gentle as a sheep, loving her children, her father, her mother,
her cousins, weeping for other's woes, letting everything go in
her household, and detesting corsets; but so slow of movement,
such a bore to listen to, so common in appearance, and of such
restricted conversation, that although she was thirty, he only
twenty, although they slept in rooms next each other and he spoke
to her daily, he never thought that she might be a woman for
another, or that she possessed anything else of her sex than the
And what else was there? Binet, a few shopkeepers, two or three
publicans, the cure, and finally, Monsieur Tuvache, the mayor,
with his two sons, rich, crabbed, obtuse persons, who farmed
their own lands and had feasts among themselves, bigoted to boot,
and quite unbearable companions.
But from the general background of all these human faces Emma's
stood out isolated and yet farthest off; for between her and him
he seemed to see a vague abyss.
In the beginning he had called on her several times along with
the druggist. Charles had not appeared particularly anxious to
see him again, and Leon did not know what to do between his fear
of being indiscreet and the desire for an intimacy that seemed
When the first cold days set in Emma left her bedroom for the
sitting-room, a long apartment with a low ceiling, in which there
was on the mantelpiece a large bunch of coral spread out against
the looking-glass. Seated in her arm chair near the window, she
could see the villagers pass along the pavement.
Twice a day Leon went from his office to the Lion d'Or. Emma
could hear him coming from afar; she leant forward listening, and
the young man glided past the curtain, always dressed in the same
way, and without turning his head. But in the twilight, when, her
chin resting on her left hand, she let the embroidery she had
begun fall on her knees, she often shuddered at the apparition of
this shadow suddenly gliding past. She would get up and order the
table to be laid.
Monsieur Homais called at dinner-time. Skull-cap in hand, he came
in on tiptoe, in order to disturb no one, always repeating the
same phrase, "Good evening, everybody." Then, when he had taken
his seat at the table between the pair, he asked the doctor about
his patients, and the latter consulted his as to the probability
of their payment. Next they talked of "what was in the paper."
Homais by this hour knew it almost by heart, and he repeated it
from end to end, with the reflections of the penny-a-liners, and
all the stories of individual catastrophes that had occurred in
France or abroad. But the subject becoming exhausted, he was not
slow in throwing out some remarks on the dishes before him.
Sometimes even, half-rising, he delicately pointed out to madame
the tenderest morsel, or turning to the servant, gave her some
advice on the manipulation of stews and the hygiene of seasoning.
He talked aroma, osmazome, juices, and gelatine in a bewildering
manner. Moreover, Homais, with his head fuller of recipes than
his shop of jars, excelled in making all kinds of preserves,
vinegars, and sweet liqueurs; he knew also all the latest
inventions in economic stoves, together with the art of
preserving cheese and of curing sick wines.
At eight o'clock Justin came to fetch him to shut up the shop.
Then Monsieur Homais gave him a sly look, especially if Felicite
was there, for he half noticed that his apprentice was fond of
the doctor's house.
"The young dog," he said, "is beginning to have ideas, and the
devil take me if I don't believe he's in love with your servant!"
But a more serious fault with which he reproached Justin was his
constantly listening to conversation. On Sunday, for example, one
could not get him out of the drawing-room, whither Madame Homais
had called him to fetch the children, who were falling asleep in
the arm-chairs, and dragging down with their backs calico
chair-covers that were too large.
Not many people came to these soirees at the chemist's, his
scandal-mongering and political opinions having successfully
alienated various respectable persons from him. The clerk never
failed to be there. As soon as he heard the bell he ran to meet
Madame Bovary, took her shawl, and put away under the
shop-counter the thick list shoes that she wore over her boots
when there was snow.
First they played some hands at trente-et-un; next Monsieur
Homais played ecarte with Emma; Leon behind her gave her advice.
Standing up with his hands on the back of her chair he saw the
teeth of her comb that bit into her chignon. With every movement
that she made to throw her cards the right side of her dress was
drawn up. From her turned-up hair a dark colour fell over her
back, and growing gradually paler, lost itself little by little
in the shade. Then her dress fell on both sides of her chair,
puffing out full of folds, and reached the ground. When Leon
occasionally felt the sole of his boot resting on it, he drew
back as if he had trodden upon some one.
When the game of cards was over, the druggist and the Doctor
played dominoes, and Emma, changing her place, leant her elbow on
the table, turning over the leaves of "L'Illustration". She had
brought her ladies' journal with her. Leon sat down near her;
they looked at the engravings together, and waited for one
another at the bottom of the pages. She often begged him to read
her the verses; Leon declaimed them in a languid voice, to which
he carefully gave a dying fall in the love passages. But the
noise of the dominoes annoyed him. Monsieur Homais was strong at
the game; he could beat Charles and give him a double-six. Then
the three hundred finished, they both stretched themselves out in
front of the fire, and were soon asleep. The fire was dying out
in the cinders; the teapot was empty, Leon was still reading.
Emma listened to him, mechanically turning around the lampshade,
on the gauze of which were painted clowns in carriages, and
tight-rope dances with their balancing-poles. Leon stopped,
pointing with a gesture to his sleeping audience; then they
talked in low tones, and their conversation seemed the more sweet
to them because it was unheard.
Thus a kind of bond was established between them, a constant
commerce of books and of romances. Monsieur Bovary, little given
to jealousy, did not trouble himself about it.
On his birthday he received a beautiful phrenological head, all
marked with figures to the thorax and painted blue. This was an
attention of the clerk's. He showed him many others, even to
doing errands for him at Rouen; and the book of a novelist having
made the mania for cactuses fashionable, Leon bought some for
Madame Bovary, bringing them back on his knees in the
"Hirondelle," pricking his fingers on their hard hairs.
She had a board with a balustrade fixed against her window to
hold the pots. The clerk, too, had his small hanging garden; they
saw each other tending their flowers at their windows.
Of the windows of the village there was one yet more often
occupied; for on Sundays from morning to night, and every morning
when the weather was bright, one could see at the dormer-window
of the garret the profile of Monsieur Binet bending over his
lathe, whose monotonous humming could be heard at the Lion d'Or.
One evening on coming home Leon found in his room a rug in velvet
and wool with leaves on a pale ground. He called Madame Homais,
Monsieur Homais, Justin, the children, the cook; he spoke of it
to his chief; every one wanted to see this rug. Why did the
doctor's wife give the clerk presents? It looked queer. They
decided that she must be his lover.
He made this seem likely, so ceaselessly did he talk of her
charms and of her wit; so much so, that Binet once roughly
"What does it matter to me since I'm not in her set?"
He tortured himself to find out how he could make his declaration
to her, and always halting between the fear of displeasing her
and the shame of being such a coward, he wept with discouragement
and desire. Then he took energetic resolutions, wrote letters
that he tore up, put it off to times that he again deferred.
Often he set out with the determination to dare all; but this
resolution soon deserted him in Emma's presence, and when
Charles, dropping in, invited him to jump into his chaise to go
with him to see some patient in the neighbourhood, he at once
accepted, bowed to madame, and went out. Her husband, was he not
something belonging to her? As to Emma, she did not ask herself
whether she loved. Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with
great outbursts and lightnings--a hurricane of the skies, which
falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a
leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss. She did not know
that on the terrace of houses it makes lakes when the pipes are
choked, and she would thus have remained in her security when she
suddenly discovered a rent in the wall of it.
It was a Sunday in February, an afternoon when the snow was
They had all, Monsieur and Madame Bovary, Homais, and Monsieur
Leon, gone to see a yarn-mill that was being built in the valley
a mile and a half from Yonville. The druggist had taken Napoleon
and Athalie to give them some exercise, and Justin accompanied
them, carrying the umbrellas on his shoulder.
Nothing, however, could be less curious than this curiosity. A
great piece of waste ground, on which pell-mell, amid a mass of
sand and stones, were a few break-wheels, already rusty,
surrounded by a quadrangular building pierced by a number of
little windows. The building was unfinished; the sky could be
seen through the joists of the roofing. Attached to the
stop-plank of the gable a bunch of straw mixed with corn-ears
fluttered its tricoloured ribbons in the wind.
Homais was talking. He explained to the company the future
importance of this establishment, computed the strength of the
floorings, the thickness of the walls, and regretted extremely
not having a yard-stick such as Monsieur Binet possessed for his
own special use.
Emma, who had taken his arm, bent lightly against his shoulder,
and she looked at the sun's disc shedding afar through the mist
his pale splendour. She turned. Charles was there. His cap was
drawn down over his eyebrows, and his two thick lips were
trembling, which added a look of stupidity to his face; his very
back, his calm back, was irritating to behold, and she saw
written upon his coat all the platitude of the bearer.
While she was considering him thus, tasting in her irritation a
sort of depraved pleasure, Leon made a step forward. The cold
that made him pale seemed to add a more gentle languor to his
face; between his cravat and his neck the somewhat loose collar
of his shirt showed the skin; the lobe of his ear looked out from
beneath a lock of hair, and his large blue eyes, raised to the
clouds, seemed to Emma more limpid and more beautiful than those
mountain-lakes where the heavens are mirrored.
"Wretched boy!" suddenly cried the chemist.
And he ran to his son, who had just precipitated himself into a
heap of lime in order to whiten his boots. At the reproaches with
which he was being overwhelmed Napoleon began to roar, while
Justin dried his shoes with a wisp of straw. But a knife was
wanted; Charles offered his.
"Ah!" she said to herself, "he carried a knife in his pocket like
The hoar-frost was falling, and they turned back to Yonville.
In the evening Madame Bovary did not go to her neighbour's, and
when Charles had left and she felt herself alone, the comparison
re-began with the clearness of a sensation almost actual, and
with that lengthening of perspective which memory gives to
things. Looking from her bed at the clean fire that was burning,
she still saw, as she had down there, Leon standing up with one
hand behind his cane, and with the other holding Athalie, who was
quietly sucking a piece of ice. She thought him charming; she
could not tear herself away from him; she recalled his other
attitudes on other days, the words he had spoken, the sound of
his voice, his whole person; and she repeated, pouting out her
lips as if for a kiss--
"Yes, charming! charming! Is he not in love?" she asked herself;
"but with whom? With me?"
All the proofs arose before her at once; her heart leapt. The
flame of the fire threw a joyous light upon the ceiling; she
turned on her back, stretching out her arms.
Then began the eternal lamentation: "Oh, if Heaven had out willed
it! And why not? What prevented it?"
When Charles came home at midnight, she seemed to have just
awakened, and as he made a noise undressing, she complained of a
headache, then asked carelessly what had happened that evening.
"Monsieur Leon," he said, "went to his room early."
She could not help smiling, and she fell asleep, her soul filled
with a new delight.
The next day, at dusk, she received a visit from Monsieur
Lherueux, the draper. He was a man of ability, was this
shopkeeper. Born a Gascon but bred a Norman, he grafted upon his
southern volubility the cunning of the Cauchois. His fat, flabby,
beardless face seemed dyed by a decoction of liquorice, and his
white hair made even more vivid the keen brilliance of his small
black eyes. No one knew what he had been formerly; a pedlar said
some, a banker at Routot according to others. What was certain
was that he made complex calculations in his head that would have
frightened Binet himself. Polite to obsequiousness, he always
held himself with his back bent in the position of one who bows
or who invites.
After leaving at the door his hat surrounded with crape, he put
down a green bandbox on the table, and began by complaining to
madame, with many civilities, that he should have remained till
that day without gaining her confidence. A poor shop like his was
not made to attract a "fashionable lady"; he emphasized the
words; yet she had only to command, and he would undertake to
provide her with anything she might wish, either in haberdashery
or linen, millinery or fancy goods, for he went to town regularly
four times a month. He was connected with the best houses. You
could speak of him at the "Trois Freres," at the "Barbe d'Or," or
at the "Grand Sauvage"; all these gentlemen knew him as well as
the insides of their pockets. To-day, then he had come to show
madame, in passing, various articles he happened to have, thanks
to the most rare opportunity. And he pulled out half-a-dozen
embroidered collars from the box.
Madame Bovary examined them. "I do not require anything," she
Then Monsieur Lheureux delicately exhibited three Algerian
scarves, several packets of English needles, a pair of straw
slippers, and finally, four eggcups in cocoanut wood, carved in
open work by convicts. Then, with both hands on the table, his
neck stretched out, his figure bent forward, open-mouthed, he
watched Emma's look, who was walking up and down undecided amid
these goods. From time to time, as if to remove some dust, he
filliped with his nail the silk of the scarves spread out at full
length, and they rustled with a little noise, making in the green
twilight the gold spangles of their tissue scintillate like
"How much are they?"
"A mere nothing," he replied, "a mere nothing. But there's no
hurry; whenever it's convenient. We are not Jews."
She reflected for a few moments, and ended by again declining
Monsieur Lheureux's offer. He replied quite unconcernedly--
"Very well. We shall understand one another by and by. I have
always got on with ladies--if I didn't with my own!"
"I wanted to tell you," he went on good-naturedly, after his
joke, "that it isn't the money I should trouble about. Why, I
could give you some, if need be."
She made a gesture of surprise.
"Ah!" said he quickly and in a low voice, "I shouldn't have to go
far to find you some, rely on that."
And he began asking after Pere Tellier, the proprietor of the
"Cafe Francais," whom Monsieur Bovary was then attending.
"What's the matter with Pere Tellier? He coughs so that he shakes
his whole house, and I'm afraid he'll soon want a deal covering
rather than a flannel vest. He was such a rake as a young man!
Those sort of people, madame, have not the least regularity; he's
burnt up with brandy. Still it's sad, all the same, to see an
acquaintance go off."
And while he fastened up his box he discoursed about the doctor's
"It's the weather, no doubt," he said, looking frowningly at the
floor, "that causes these illnesses. I, too, don't feel the
thing. One of these days I shall even have to consult the doctor
for a pain I have in my back. Well, good-bye, Madame Bovary. At
your service; your very humble servant." And he closed the door
Emma had her dinner served in her bedroom on a tray by the
fireside; she was a long time over it; everything was well with
"How good I was!" she said to herself, thinking of the scarves.
She heard some steps on the stairs. It was Leon. She got up and
took from the chest of drawers the first pile of dusters to be
hemmed. When he came in she seemed very busy.
The conversation languished; Madame Bovary gave it up every few
minutes, whilst he himself seemed quite embarrassed. Seated on a
low chair near the fire, he turned round in his fingers the ivory
thimble-case. She stitched on, or from time to time turned down