Part 4 out of 8
"Truly," said the druggist, "one ought to proceed most rigorously
against drunkenness! I should like to see written up weekly at
the door of the town hall on a board ad hoc* the names of all
those who during the week got intoxicated on alcohol. Besides,
with regard to statistics, one would thus have, as it were,
public records that one could refer to in case of need. But
*Specifically for that.
And he once more ran off to the captain. The latter was going
back to see his lathe again.
"Perhaps you would not do ill," Homais said to him, "to send one
of your men, or to go yourself--"
"Leave me alone!" answered the tax-collector. "It's all right!"
"Do not be uneasy," said the druggist, when he returned to his
friends. "Monsieur Binet has assured me that all precautions have
been taken. No sparks have fallen; the pumps are full. Let us go
"Ma foi! I want it," said Madame Homais, yawning at large. "But
never mind; we've had a beautiful day for our fete."
Rodolphe repeated in a low voice, and with a tender look, "Oh,
yes! very beautiful!"
And having bowed to one another, they separated.
Two days later, in the "Final de Rouen," there was a long article
on the show. Homais had composed it with verve the very next
"Why these festoons, these flowers, these garlands? Whither
hurries this crowd like the waves of a furious sea under the
torrents of a tropical sun pouring its heat upon our heads?"
Then he spoke of the condition of the peasants. Certainly the
Government was doing much, but not enough. "Courage!" he cried to
it; "a thousand reforms are indispensable; let us accomplish
them!" Then touching on the entry of the councillor, he did not
forget "the martial air of our militia;" nor "our most merry
village maidens;" nor the "bald-headed old men like patriarchs
who were there, and of whom some, the remnants of our phalanxes,
still felt their hearts beat at the manly sound of the drums." He
cited himself among the first of the members of the jury, and he
even called attention in a note to the fact that Monsieur Homais,
chemist, had sent a memoir on cider to the agricultural society.
When he came to the distribution of the prizes, he painted the
joy of the prize-winners in dithyrambic strophes. "The father
embraced the son, the brother the brother, the husband his
consort. More than one showed his humble medal with pride; and no
doubt when he got home to his good housewife, he hung it up
weeping on the modest walls of his cot.
"About six o'clock a banquet prepared in the meadow of Monsieur
Leigeard brought together the principal personages of the fete.
The greatest cordiality reigned here. Divers toasts were
proposed: Monsieur Lieuvain, the King; Monsieur Tuvache, the
Prefect; Monsieur Derozerays, Agriculture; Monsieur Homais,
Industry and the Fine Arts, those twin sisters; Monsieur
Leplichey, Progress. In the evening some brilliant fireworks on a
sudden illumined the air. One would have called it a veritable
kaleidoscope, a real operatic scene; and for a moment our little
locality might have thought itself transported into the midst of
a dream of the 'Thousand and One Nights.' Let us state that no
untoward event disturbed this family meeting." And he added "Only
the absence of the clergy was remarked. No doubt the priests
understand progress in another fashion. Just as you please,
messieurs the followers of Loyola!"
Six weeks passed. Rodolphe did not come again. At last one
evening he appeared.
The day after the show he had said to himself--"We mustn't go
back too soon; that would be a mistake."
And at the end of a week he had gone off hunting. After the
hunting he had thought it was too late, and then he reasoned
"If from the first day she loved me, she must from impatience to
see me again love me more. Let's go on with it!"
And he knew that his calculation had been right when, on entering
the room, he saw Emma turn pale.
She was alone. The day was drawing in. The small muslin curtain
along the windows deepened the twilight, and the gilding of the
barometer, on which the rays of the sun fell, shone in the
looking-glass between the meshes of the coral.
Rodolphe remained standing, and Emma hardly answered his first
"I," he said, "have been busy. I have been ill."
"Seriously?" she cried.
"Well," said Rodolphe, sitting down at her side on a footstool,
"no; it was because I did not want to come back."
"Can you not guess?"
He looked at her again, but so hard that she lowered her head,
blushing. He went on--
"Sir," she said, drawing back a little.
"Ah! you see," replied he in a melancholy voice, "that I was
right not to come back; for this name, this name that fills my
whole soul, and that escaped me, you forbid me to use! Madame
Bovary! why all the world calls you thus! Besides, it is not your
name; it is the name of another!"
He repeated, "of another!" And he hid his face in his hands.
"Yes, I think of you constantly. The memory of you drives me to
despair. Ah! forgive me! I will leave you! Farewell! I will go
far away, so far that you will never hear of me again; and yet--
to-day--I know not what force impelled me towards you. For one
does not struggle against Heaven; one cannot resist the smile of
angels; one is carried away by that which is beautiful, charming,
It was the first time that Emma had heard such words spoken to
herself, and her pride, like one who reposes bathed in warmth,
expanded softly and fully at this glowing language.
"But if I did not come," he continued, "if I could not see you,
at least I have gazed long on all that surrounds you. At
night-every night-I arose; I came hither; I watched your house,
its glimmering in the moon, the trees in the garden swaying
before your window, and the little lamp, a gleam shining through
the window-panes in the darkness. Ah! you never knew that there,
so near you, so far from you, was a poor wretch!"
She turned towards him with a sob.
"Oh, you are good!" she said.
"No, I love you, that is all! You do not doubt that! Tell me--one
word--only one word!"
And Rodolphe imperceptibly glided from the footstool to the
ground; but a sound of wooden shoes was heard in the kitchen, and
he noticed the door of the room was not closed.
"How kind it would be of you," he went on, rising, "if you would
humour a whim of mine." It was to go over her house; he wanted to
know it; and Madame Bovary seeing no objection to this, they both
rose, when Charles came in.
"Good morning, doctor," Rodolphe said to him.
The doctor, flattered at this unexpected title, launched out into
obsequious phrases. Of this the other took advantage to pull
himself together a little.
"Madame was speaking to me," he then said, "about her health."
Charles interrupted him; he had indeed a thousand anxieties; his
wife's palpitations of the heart were beginning again. Then
Rodolphe asked if riding would not be good.
"Certainly! excellent! just the thing! There's an idea! You ought
to follow it up."
And as she objected that she had no horse, Monsieur Rodolphe
offered one. She refused his offer; he did not insist. Then to
explain his visit he said that his ploughman, the man of the
blood-letting, still suffered from giddiness.
"I'll call around," said Bovary.
"No, no! I'll send him to you; we'll come; that will be more
convenient for you."
"Ah! very good! I thank you."
And as soon as they were alone, "Why don't you accept Monsieur
Boulanger's kind offer?"
She assumed a sulky air, invented a thousand excuses, and finally
declared that perhaps it would look odd.
"Well, what the deuce do I care for that?" said Charles, making a
pirouette. "Health before everything! You are wrong."
"And how do you think I can ride when I haven't got a habit?"
"You must order one," he answered.
The riding-habit decided her.
When the habit was ready, Charles wrote to Monsieur Boulanger
that his wife was at his command, and that they counted on his
The next day at noon Rodolphe appeared at Charles's door with two
saddle-horses. One had pink rosettes at his ears and a deerskin
Rodolphe had put on high soft boots, saying to himself that no
doubt she had never seen anything like them. In fact, Emma was
charmed with his appearance as he stood on the landing in his
great velvet coat and white corduroy breeches. She was ready; she
was waiting for him.
Justin escaped from the chemist's to see her start, and the
chemist also came out. He was giving Monsieur Boulanger a little
"An accident happens so easily. Be careful! Your horses perhaps
She heard a noise above her; it was Felicite drumming on the
windowpanes to amuse little Berthe. The child blew her a kiss;
her mother answered with a wave of her whip.
"A pleasant ride!" cried Monsieur Homais. "Prudence! above all,
prudence!" And he flourished his newspaper as he saw them
As soon as he felt the ground, Emma's horse set off at a gallop.
Rodolphe galloped by her side. Now and then they exchanged a
word. Her figure slightly bent, her hand well up, and her right
arm stretched out, she gave herself up to the cadence of the
movement that rocked her in her saddle. At the bottom of the hill
Rodolphe gave his horse its head; they started together at a
bound, then at the top suddenly the horses stopped, and her large
blue veil fell about her.
It was early in October. There was fog over the land. Hazy clouds
hovered on the horizon between the outlines of the hills; others,
rent asunder, floated up and disappeared. Sometimes through a
rift in the clouds, beneath a ray of sunshine, gleamed from afar
the roots of Yonville, with the gardens at the water's edge, the
yards, the walls and the church steeple. Emma half closed her
eyes to pick out her house, and never had this poor village where
she lived appeared so small. From the height on which they were
the whole valley seemed an immense pale lake sending off its
vapour into the air. Clumps of trees here and there stood out
like black rocks, and the tall lines of the poplars that rose
above the mist were like a beach stirred by the wind.
By the side, on the turf between the pines, a brown light
shimmered in the warm atmosphere. The earth, ruddy like the
powder of tobacco, deadened the noise of their steps, and with
the edge of their shoes the horses as they walked kicked the
fallen fir cones in front of them.
Rodolphe and Emma thus went along the skirt of the wood. She
turned away from time to time to avoid his look, and then she saw
only the pine trunks in lines, whose monotonous succession made
her a little giddy. The horses were panting; the leather of the
Just as they were entering the forest the sun shone out.
"God protects us!" said Rodolphe.
"Do you think so?" she said.
"Forward! forward!" he continued.
He "tchk'd" with his tongue. The two beasts set off at a trot.
Long ferns by the roadside caught in Emma's stirrup.
Rodolphe leant forward and removed them as they rode along. At
other times, to turn aside the branches, he passed close to her,
and Emma felt his knee brushing against her leg. The sky was now
blue, the leaves no longer stirred. There were spaces full of
heather in flower, and plots of violets alternated with the
confused patches of the trees that were grey, fawn, or golden
coloured, according to the nature of their leaves. Often in the
thicket was heard the fluttering of wings, or else the hoarse,
soft cry of the ravens flying off amidst the oaks.
They dismounted. Rodolphe fastened up the horses. She walked on
in front on the moss between the paths. But her long habit got in
her way, although she held it up by the skirt; and Rodolphe,
walking behind her, saw between the black cloth and the black
shoe the fineness of her white stocking, that seemed to him as if
it were a part of her nakedness.
She stopped. "I am tired," she said.
"Come, try again," he went on. "Courage!"
Then some hundred paces farther on she again stopped, and through
her veil, that fell sideways from her man's hat over her hips,
her face appeared in a bluish transparency as if she were
floating under azure waves.
"But where are we going?"
He did not answer. She was breathing irregularly. Rodolphe looked
round him biting his moustache. They came to a larger space where
the coppice had been cut. They sat down on the trunk of a fallen
tree, and Rodolphe began speaking to her of his love. He did not
begin by frightening her with compliments. He was calm, serious,
Emma listened to him with bowed head, and stirred the bits of
wood on the ground with the tip of her foot. But at the words,
"Are not our destinies now one?"
"Oh, no!" she replied. "You know that well. It is impossible!"
She rose to go. He seized her by the wrist. She stopped. Then,
having gazed at him for a few moments with an amorous and humid
look, she said hurriedly--
"Ah! do not speak of it again! Where are the horses? Let us go
He made a gesture of anger and annoyance. She repeated:
"Where are the horses? Where are the horses?"
Then smiling a strange smile, his pupil fixed, his teeth set, he
advanced with outstretched arms. She recoiled trembling. She
"Oh, you frighten me! You hurt me! Let me go!"
"If it must be," he went on, his face changing; and he again
became respectful, caressing, timid. She gave him her arm. They
went back. He said--
"What was the matter with you? Why? I do not understand. You were
mistaken, no doubt. In my soul you are as a Madonna on a
pedestal, in a place lofty, secure, immaculate. But I need you to
live! I must have your eyes, your voice, your thought! Be my
friend, my sister, my angel!"
And he put out his arm round her waist. She feebly tried to
disengage herself. He supported her thus as they walked along.
But they heard the two horses browsing on the leaves.
"Oh! one moment!" said Rodolphe. "Do not let us go! Stay!"
He drew her farther on to a small pool where duckweeds made a
greenness on the water. Faded water lilies lay motionless between
the reeds. At the noise of their steps in the grass, frogs jumped
away to hide themselves.
"I am wrong! I am wrong!" she said. "I am mad to listen to you!"
"Why? Emma! Emma!"
"Oh, Rodolphe!" said the young woman slowly, leaning on his
The cloth of her habit caught against the velvet of his coat. She
threw back her white neck, swelling with a sigh, and faltering,
in tears, with a long shudder and hiding her face, she gave
herself up to him--
The shades of night were falling; the horizontal sun passing
between the branches dazzled the eyes. Here and there around her,
in the leaves or on the ground, trembled luminous patches, as it
hummingbirds flying about had scattered their feathers. Silence
was everywhere; something sweet seemed to come forth from the
trees; she felt her heart, whose beating had begun again, and the
blood coursing through her flesh like a stream of milk. Then far
away, beyond the wood, on the other hills, she heard a vague
prolonged cry, a voice which lingered, and in silence she heard
it mingling like music with the last pulsations of her throbbing
nerves. Rodolphe, a cigar between his lips, was mending with his
penknife one of the two broken bridles.
They returned to Yonville by the same road. On the mud they saw
again the traces of their horses side by side, the same thickets,
the same stones to the grass; nothing around them seemed changed;
and yet for her something had happened more stupendous than if
the mountains had moved in their places. Rodolphe now and again
bent forward and took her hand to kiss it.
She was charming on horseback--upright, with her slender waist,
her knee bent on the mane of her horse, her face somewhat flushed
by the fresh air in the red of the evening.
On entering Yonville she made her horse prance in the road.
People looked at her from the windows.
At dinner her husband thought she looked well, but she pretended
not to hear him when he inquired about her ride, and she remained
sitting there with her elbow at the side of her plate between the
two lighted candles.
"Emma!" he said.
"Well, I spent the afternoon at Monsieur Alexandre's. He has an
old cob, still very fine, only a little brokenkneed, and that
could be bought; I am sure, for a hundred crowns." He added, "And
thinking it might please you, I have bespoken it--bought it. Have
I done right? Do tell me?"
She nodded her head in assent; then a quarter of an hour later--
"Are you going out to-night?" she asked.
"Oh, nothing, nothing, my dear!"
And as soon as she had got rid of Charles she went and shut
herself up in her room.
At first she felt stunned; she saw the trees, the paths, the
ditches, Rodolphe, and she again felt the pressure of his arm,
while the leaves rustled and the reeds whistled.
But when she saw herself in the glass she wondered at her face.
Never had her eyes been so large, so black, of so profound a
depth. Something subtle about her being transfigured her. She
repeated, "I have a lover! a lover!" delighting at the idea as if
a second puberty had come to her. So at last she was to know
those joys of love, that fever of happiness of which she had
despairedl She was entering upon marvels where all would be
passion, ecstasy, delirium. An azure infinity encompassed her,
the heights of sentiment sparkled under her thought, and ordinary
existence appeared only afar off, down below in the shade,
through the interspaces of these heights.
Then she recalled the heroines of the books that she had read,
and the lyric legion of these adulterous women began to sing in
her memory with the voice of sisters that charmed her. She became
herself, as it were, an actual part of these imaginings, and
realised the love-dream of her youth as she saw herself in this
type of amorous women whom she had so envied. Besides, Emma felt
a satisfaction of revenge. Had she not suffered enough? But now
she triumphed, and the love so long pent up burst forth in full
joyous bubblings. She tasted it without remorse, without anxiety,
The day following passed with a new sweetness. They made vows to
one another She told him of her sorrows. Rodolphe interrupted her
with kisses; and she looking at him through half-closed eyes,
asked him to call her again by her name--to say that he loved her
They were in the forest, as yesterday, in the shed of some
woodenshoe maker. The walls were of straw, and the roof so low
they had to stoop. They were seated side by side on a bed of dry
From that day forth they wrote to one another regularly every
evening. Emma placed her letter at the end of the garden, by the
river, in a fissure of the wall. Rodolphe came to fetch it, and
put another there, that she always found fault with as too
One morning, when Charles had gone out before day break, she was
seized with the fancy to see Rodolphe at once. She would go
quickly to La Huchette, stay there an hour, and be back again at
Yonville while everyone was still asleep. This idea made her pant
with desire, and she soon found herself in the middle of the
field, walking with rapid steps, without looking behind her.
Day was just breaking. Emma from afar recognised her lover's
house. Its two dove-tailed weathercocks stood out black against
the pale dawn.
Beyond the farmyard there was a detached building that she
thought must be the chateau She entered--it was if the doors at
her approach had opened wide of their own accord. A large
straight staircase led up to the corridor. Emma raised the latch
of a door, and suddenly at the end of the room she saw a man
sleeping. It was Rodolphe. She uttered a cry.
"You here? You here?" he repeated. "How did you manage to come?
Ah! your dress is damp."
"I love you," she answered, throwing her arms about his neck.
This first piece of daring successful, now every time Charles
went out early Emma dressed quickly and slipped on tiptoe down
the steps that led to the waterside.
But when the plank for the cows was taken up, she had to go by
the walls alongside of the river; the bank was slippery; in order
not to fall she caught hold of the tufts of faded wallflowers.
Then she went across ploughed fields, in which she sank,
stumbling; and clogging her thin shoes. Her scarf, knotted round
her head, fluttered to the wind in the meadows. She was afraid of
the oxen; she began to run; she arrived out of breath, with rosy
cheeks, and breathing out from her whole person a fresh perfume
of sap, of verdure, of the open air. At this hour Rodolphe still
slept. It was like a spring morning coming into his room.
The yellow curtains along the windows let a heavy, whitish light
enter softly. Emma felt about, opening and closing her eyes,
while the drops of dew hanging from her hair formed, as it were,
a topaz aureole around her face. Rodolphe, laughing, drew her to
him, and pressed her to his breast.
Then she examined the apartment, opened the drawers of the
tables, combed her hair with his comb, and looked at herself in
his shaving-glass. Often she even put between her teeth the big
pipe that lay on the table by the bed, amongst lemons and pieces
of sugar near a bottle of water.
It took them a good quarter of an hour to say goodbye. Then Emma
cried. She would have wished never to leave Rodolphe. Something
stronger than herself forced her to him; so much so, that one
day, seeing her come unexpectedly, he frowned as one put out.
"What is the matter with you?" she said. "Are you ill? Tell me!"
At last he declared with a serious air that her visits were
becoming imprudent--that she was compromising herself.
Gradually Rodolphe's fears took possession of her. At first, love
had intoxicated her; and she had thought of nothing beyond. But
now that he was indispensable to her life, she feared to lose
anything of this, or even that it should be disturbed. When she
came back from his house she looked all about her, anxiously
watching every form that passed in the horizon, and every village
window from which she could be seen. She listened for steps,
cries, the noise of the ploughs, and she stopped short, white,
and trembling more than the aspen leaves swaying overhead.
One morning as she was thus returning, she suddenly thought she
saw the long barrel of a carbine that seemed to be aimed at her.
It stuck out sideways from the end of a small tub half-buried in
the grass on the edge of a ditch. Emma, half-fainting with
terror, nevertheless walked on, and a man stepped out of the tub
like a Jack-in-the-box. He had gaiters buckled up to the knees,
his cap pulled down over his eyes, trembling lips, and a red
nose. It was Captain Binet lying in ambush for wild ducks.
"You ought to have called out long ago!" he exclaimed; "When one
sees a gun, one should always give warning."
The tax-collector was thus trying to hide the fright he had had,
for a prefectorial order having prohibited duckhunting except in
boats, Monsieur Binet, despite his respect for the laws, was
infringing them, and so he every moment expected to see the rural
guard turn up. But this anxiety whetted his pleasure, and, all
alone in his tub, he congratulated himself on his luck and on his
cuteness. At sight of Emma he seemed relieved from a great
weight, and at once entered upon a conversation.
"It isn't warm; it's nipping."
Emma answered nothing. He went on--
"And you're out so early?"
"Yes," she said stammering; "I am just coming from the nurse
where my child is."
"Ah! very good! very good! For myself, I am here, just as you
see me, since break of day; but the weather is so muggy, that
unless one had the bird at the mouth of the gun--"
"Good evening, Monsieur Binet," she interrupted him, turning on
"Your servant, madame," he replied drily; and he went back into
Emma regretted having left the tax-collector so abruptly. No
doubt he would form unfavourable conjectures. The story about the
nurse was the worst possible excuse, everyone at Yonville knowing
that the little Bovary had been at home with her parents for a
year. Besides, no one was living in this direction; this path led
only to La Huchette. Binet, then, would guess whence she came,
and he would not keep silence; he would talk, that was certain.
She remained until evening racking her brain with every
conceivable lying project, and had constantly before her eyes
that imbecile with the game-bag.
Charles after dinner, seeing her gloomy, proposed, by way of
distraction, to take her to the chemist's, and the first person
she caught sight of in the shop was the taxcollector again. He
was standing in front of the counter, lit up by the gleams of the
red bottle, and was saying--
"Please give me half an ounce of vitriol."
"Justin," cried the druggist, "bring us the sulphuric acid." Then
to Emma, who was going up to Madame Homais' room, "No, stay here;
it isn't worth while going up; she is just coming down. Warm
yourself at the stove in the meantime. Excuse me. Good-day,
doctor," (for the chemist much enjoyed pronouncing the word
"doctor," as if addressing another by it reflected on himself
some of the grandeur that he found in it). "Now, take care not to
upset the mortars! You'd better fetch some chairs from the little
room; you know very well that the arm-chairs are not to be taken
out of the drawing-room."
And to put his arm-chair back in its place he was darting away
from the counter, when Binet asked him for half an ounce of sugar
"Sugar acid!" said the chemist contemptuously, "don't know it;
I'm ignorant of it! But perhaps you want oxalic acid. It is
oxalic acid, isn't it?"
Binet explained that he wanted a corrosive to make himself some
copperwater with which to remove rust from his hunting things.
Emma shuddered. The chemist began saying--
"Indeed the weather is not propitious on account of the damp."
"Nevertheless," replied the tax-collector, with a sly look,
"there are people who like it."
She was stifling.
"And give me--"
"Will he never go?" thought she.
"Half an ounce of resin and turpentine, four ounces of yellow
wax, and three half ounces of animal charcoal, if you please, to
clean the varnished leather of my togs."
The druggist was beginning to cut the wax when Madame Homais
appeared, Irma in her arms, Napoleon by her side, and Athalie
following. She sat down on the velvet seat by the window, and the
lad squatted down on a footstool, while his eldest sister hovered
round the jujube box near her papa. The latter was filling
funnels and corking phials, sticking on labels, making up
parcels. Around him all were silent; only from time to time, were
heard the weights jingling in the balance, and a few low words
from the chemist giving directions to his pupil.
"And how's the little woman?" suddenly asked Madame Homais.
"Silence!" exclaimed her husband, who was writing down some
figures in his waste-book.
"Why didn't you bring her?" she went on in a low voice.
"Hush! hush!" said Emma, pointing with her finger to the
But Binet, quite absorbed in looking over his bill, had probably
heard nothing. At last he went out. Then Emma, relieved, uttered
a deep sigh.
"How hard you are breathing!" said Madame Homais.
"Well, you see, it's rather warm," she replied.
So the next day they talked over how to arrange their rendezvous.
Emma wanted to bribe her servant with a present, but it would be
better to find some safe house at Yonville. Rodolphe promised to
look for one.
All through the winter, three or four times a week, in the dead
of night he came to the garden. Emma had on purpose taken away
the key of the gate, which Charles thought lost.
To call her, Rodolphe threw a sprinkle of sand at the shutters.
She jumped up with a start; but sometimes he had to wait, for
Charles had a mania for chatting by the fireside, and he would
not stop. She was wild with impatience; if her eyes could have
done it, she would have hurled him out at the window. At last she
would begin to undress, then take up a book, and go on reading
very quietly as if the book amused her. But Charles, who was in
bed, called to her to come too.
"Come, now, Emma," he said, "it is time."
"Yes, I am coming," she answered.
Then, as the candles dazzled him; he turned to the wall and fell
asleep. She escaped, smiling, palpitating, undressed. Rodolphe
had a large cloak; he wrapped her in it, and putting his arm
round her waist, he drew her without a word to the end of the
It was in the arbour, on the same seat of old sticks where
formerly Leon had looked at her so amorously on the summer
evenings. She never thought of him now.
The stars shone through the leafless jasmine branches. Behind
them they heard the river flowing, and now and again on the bank
the rustling of the dry reeds. Masses of shadow here and there
loomed out in the darkness, and sometimes, vibrating with one
movement, they rose up and swayed like immense black waves
pressing forward to engulf them. The cold of the nights made them
clasp closer; the sighs of their lips seemed to them deeper;
their eyes that they could hardly see, larger; and in the midst
of the silence low words were spoken that fell on their souls
sonorous, crystalline, and that reverberated in multiplied
When the night was rainy, they took refuge in the consulting-room
between the cart-shed and the stable. She lighted one of the
kitchen candles that she had hidden behind the books. Rodolphe
settled down there as if at home. The sight of the library, of
the bureau, of the whole apartment, in fine, excited his
merriment, and he could not refrain from making jokes about
Charles, which rather embarrassed Emma. She would have liked to
see him more serious, and even on occasions more dramatic; as,
for example, when she thought she heard a noise of approaching
steps in the alley.
"Someone is coming!" she said.
He blew out the light.
"Have you your pistols?"
"Why, to defend yourself," replied Emma.
"From your husband? Oh, poor devil!" And Rodolphe finished his
sentence with a gesture that said, "I could crush him with a
flip of my finger."
She was wonder-stricken at his bravery, although she felt in it a
sort of indecency and a naive coarseness that scandalised her.
Rodolphe reflected a good deal on the affair of the pistols. If
she had spoken seriously, it was very ridiculous, he thought,
even odious; for he had no reason to hate the good Charles, not
being what is called devoured by jealousy; and on this subject
Emma had taken a great vow that he did not think in the best of
Besides, she was growing very sentimental. She had insisted on
exchanging miniatures; they had cut off handfuls of hair, and now
she was asking for a ring--a real wedding-ring, in sign of an
eternal union. She often spoke to him of the evening chimes, of
the voices of nature. Then she talked to him of her mother--hers!
and of his mother--his! Rodolphe had lost his twenty years ago.
Emma none the less consoled him with caressing words as one would
have done a lost child, and she sometimes even said to him,
gazing at the moon--
"I am sure that above there together they approve of our love."
But she was so pretty. He had possessed so few women of such
ingenuousness. This love without debauchery was a new experience
for him, and, drawing him out of his lazy habits, caressed at
once his pride and his sensuality. Emma's enthusiasm, which his
bourgeois good sense disdained, seemed to him in his heart of
hearts charming, since it was lavished on him. Then, sure of
being loved, he no longer kept up appearances, and insensibly his
He had no longer, as formerly, words so gentle that they made her
cry, nor passionate caresses that made her mad, so that their
great love, which engrossed her life, seemed to lessen beneath
her like the water of a stream absorbed into its channel, and she
could see the bed of it. She would not believe it; she redoubled
in tenderness, and Rodolphe concealed his indifference less and
She did not know if she regretted having yielded to him, or
whether she did not wish, on the contrary, to enjoy him the more.
The humiliation of feeling herself weak was turning to rancour,
tempered by their voluptuous pleasures. It was not affection; it
was like a continual seduction. He subjugated her; she almost
Appearances, nevertheless, were calmer than ever, Rodolphe having
succeeded in carrying out the adultery after his own fancy; and
at the end of six months, when the spring-time came, they were to
one another like a married couple, tranquilly keeping up a
It was the time of year when old Rouault sent his turkey in
remembrance of the setting of his leg. The present always arrived
with a letter. Emma cut the string that tied it to the basket,
and read the following lines:--
"My Dear Children--I hope this will find you well, and that this
one will be as good as the others. For it seems to me a little
more tender, if I may venture to say so, and heavier. But next
time, for a change, I'll give you a turkeycock, unless you have a
preference for some dabs; and send me back the hamper, if you
please, with the two old ones. I have had an accident with my
cart-sheds, whose covering flew off one windy night among the
trees. The harvest has not been overgood either. Finally, I don't
know when I shall come to see you. It is so difficult now to
leave the house since I am alone, my poor Emma."
Here there was a break in the lines, as if the old fellow had
dropped his pen to dream a little while.
"For myself, I am very well, except for a cold I caught the other
day at the fair at Yvetot, where I had gone to hire a shepherd,
having turned away mine because he was too dainty. How we are to
be pitied with such a lot of thieves! Besides, he was also rude.
I heard from a pedlar, who, travelling through your part of the
country this winter, had a tooth drawn, that Bovary was as usual
working hard. That doesn't surprise me; and he showed me his
tooth; we had some coffee together. I asked him if he had seen
you, and he said not, but that he had seen two horses in the
stables, from which I conclude that business is looking up. So
much the better, my dear children, and may God send you every
imaginable happiness! It grieves me not yet to have seen my dear
little grand-daughter, Berthe Bovary. I have planted an Orleans
plum-tree for her in the garden under your room, and I won't have
it touched unless it is to have jam made for her by and bye, that
I will keep in the cupboard for her when she comes.
"Good-bye, my dear children. I kiss you, my girl, you too, my
son-in-law, and the little one on both cheeks. I am, with best
compliments, your loving father.
She held the coarse paper in her fingers for some minutes. The
spelling mistakes were interwoven one with the other, and Emma
followed the kindly thought that cackled right through it like a
hen half hidden in the hedge of thorns. The writing had been
dried with ashes from the hearth, for a little grey powder
slipped from the letter on to her dress, and she almost thought
she saw her father bending over the hearth to take up the tongs.
How long since she had been with him, sitting on the footstool in
the chimney-corner, where she used to burn the end of a bit of
wood in the great flame of the sea-sedges! She remembered the
summer evenings all full of sunshine. The colts neighed when
anyone passed by, and galloped, galloped. Under her window there
was a beehive, and sometimes the bees wheeling round in the light
struck against her window like rebounding balls of gold. What
happiness there had been at that time, what freedom, what hope!
What an abundance of illusions! Nothing was left of them now. She
had got rid of them all in her soul's life, in all her successive
conditions of lifemaidenhood, her marriage, and her love--thus
constantly losing them all her life through, like a traveller who
leaves something of his wealth at every inn along his road.
But what then, made her so unhappy? What was the extraordinary
catastrophe that had transformed her? And she raised her head,
looking round as if to seek the cause of that which made her
An April ray was dancing on the china of the whatnot; the fire
burned; beneath her slippers she felt the softness of the carpet;
the day was bright, the air warm, and she heard her child
shouting with laughter.
In fact, the little girl was just then rolling on the lawn in the
midst of the grass that was being turned. She was lying flat on
her stomach at the top of a rick. The servant was holding her by
her skirt. Lestiboudois was raking by her side, and every time he
came near she lent forward, beating the air with both her arms.
"Bring her to me," said her mother, rushing to embrace her. "How
I love you, my poor child! How I love you!"
Then noticing that the tips of her ears were rather dirty, she
rang at once for warm water, and washed her, changed her linen,
her stockings, her shoes, asked a thousand questions about her
health, as if on the return from a long journey, and finally,
kissing her again and crying a little, she gave her back to the
servant, who stood quite thunderstricken at this excess of
That evening Rodolphe found her more serious than usual.
"That will pass over," he concluded; "it's a whim:"
And he missed three rendezvous running. When he did come, she
showed herself cold and almost contemptuous.
"Ah! you're losing your time, my lady!"
And he pretended not to notice her melancholy sighs, nor the
handkerchief she took out.
Then Emma repented. She even asked herself why she detested
Charles; if it had not been better to have been able to love him?
But he gave her no opportunities for such a revival of sentiment,
so that she was much embarrassed by her desire for sacrifice,
when the druggist came just in time to provide her with an
He had recently read a eulogy on a new method for curing
club-foot, and as he was a partisan of progress, he conceived the
patriotic idea that Yonville, in order to keep to the fore, ought
to have some operations for strephopody or club-foot.
"For," said he to Emma, "what risk is there? See--" (and he
enumerated on his fingers the advantages of the attempt),
"success, almost certain relief and beautifying of the patient,
celebrity acquired by the operator. Why, for example, should not
your husband relieve poor Hippolyte of the 'Lion d'Or'? Note that
he would not fail to tell about his cure to all the travellers,
and then" (Homais lowered his voice and looked round him) "who is
to prevent me from sending a short paragraph on the subject to
the paper? Eh! goodness me! an article gets about; it is talked
of; it ends by making a snowball! And who knows? who knows?"
In fact, Bovary might succeed. Nothing proved to Emma that he was
not clever; and what a satisfaction for her to have urged him to
a step by which his reputation and fortune would be increased!
She only wished to lean on something more solid than love.
Charles, urged by the druggist and by her, allowed himself to be
persuaded. He sent to Rouen for Dr. Duval's volume, and every
evening, holding his head between both hands, plunged into the
reading of it.
While he was studying equinus, varus, and valgus, that is to say,
katastrephopody, endostrephopody, and exostrephopody (or better,
the various turnings of the foot downwards, inwards, and
outwards, with the hypostrephopody and anastrephopody), otherwise
torsion downwards and upwards, Monsier Homais, with all sorts of
arguments, was exhorting the lad at the inn to submit to the
"You will scarcely feel, probably, a slight pain; it is a simple
prick, like a little blood-letting, less than the extraction of
Hippolyte, reflecting, rolled his stupid eyes.
"However," continued the chemist, "it doesn't concern me. It's
for your sake, for pure humanity! I should like to see you, my
friend, rid of your hideous caudication, together with that
waddling of the lumbar regions which, whatever you say, must
considerably interfere with you in the exercise of your calling."
Then Homais represented to him how much jollier and brisker he
would feel afterwards, and even gave him to understand that he
would be more likely to please the women; and the stable-boy
began to smile heavily. Then he attacked him through his vanity:
"Aren't you a man? Hang it! what would you have done if you had
had to go into the army, to go and fight beneath the standard?
And Homais retired, declaring that he could not understand this
obstinacy, this blindness in refusing the benefactions of
The poor fellow gave way, for it was like a conspiracy. Binet,
who never interfered with other people's business, Madame
Lefrancois, Artemise, the neighbours, even the mayor, Monsieur
Tuvache--everyone persuaded him, lectured him, shamed him; but
what finally decided him was that it would cost him nothing.
Bovary even undertook to provide the machine for the operation.
This generosity was an idea of Emma's, and Charles consented to
it, thinking in his heart of hearts that his wife was an angel.
So by the advice of the chemist, and after three fresh starts, he
had a kind of box made by the carpenter, with the aid of the
locksmith, that weighed about eight pounds, and in which iron,
wood, sheer-iron, leather, screws, and nuts had not been spared.
But to know which of Hippolyte's tendons to cut, it was necessary
first of all to find out what kind of club-foot he had.
He had a foot forming almost a straight line with the leg, which,
however, did not prevent it from being turned in, so that it was
an equinus together with something of a varus, or else a slight
varus with a strong tendency to equinus. But with this equinus,
wide in foot like a horse's hoof, with rugose skin, dry tendons,
and large toes, on which the black nails looked as if made of
iron, the clubfoot ran about like a deer from morn till night. He
was constantly to be seen on the Place, jumping round the carts,
thrusting his limping foot forwards. He seemed even stronger on
that leg than the other. By dint of hard service it had acquired,
as it were, moral qualities of patience and energy; and when he
was given some heavy work, he stood on it in preference to its
Now, as it was an equinus, it was necessary to cut the tendon of
Achilles, and, if need were, the anterior tibial muscle could be
seen to afterwards for getting rid of the varus; for the doctor
did not dare to risk both operations at once; he was even
trembling already for fear of injuring some important region that
he did not know.
Neither Ambrose Pare, applying for the first time since Celsus,
after an interval of fifteen centuries, a ligature to an artery,
nor Dupuytren, about to open an abscess in the brain, nor Gensoul
when he first took away the superior maxilla, had hearts that
trembled, hands that shook, minds so strained as Monsieur Bovary
when he approached Hippolyte, his tenotome between his fingers.
And as at hospitals, near by on a table lay a heap of lint, with
waxed thread, many bandages--a pyramid of bandages--every bandage
to be found at the druggist's. It was Monsieur Homais who since
morning had been organising all these preparations, as much to
dazzle the multitude as to keep up his illusions. Charles pierced
the skin; a dry crackling was heard. The tendon was cut, the
operation over. Hippolyte could not get over his surprise, but
bent over Bovary's hands to cover them with kisses.
"Come, be calm," said the druggist; "later on you will show your
gratitude to your benefactor."
And he went down to tell the result to five or six inquirers who
were waiting in the yard, and who fancied that Hippolyte would
reappear walking properly. Then Charles, having buckled his
patient into the machine, went home, where Emma, all anxiety,
awaited him at the door. She threw herself on his neck; they sat
down to table; he ate much, and at dessert he even wanted to take
a cup of coffee, a luxury he only permitted himself on Sundays
when there was company.
The evening was charming, full of prattle, of dreams together.
They talked about their future fortune, of the improvements to be
made in their house; he saw people's estimation of him growing,
his comforts increasing, his wife always loving him; and she was
happy to refresh herself with a new sentiment, healthier, better,
to feel at last some tenderness for this poor fellow who adored
her. The thought of Rodolphe for one moment passed through her
mind, but her eyes turned again to Charles; she even noticed with
surprise that he had not bad teeth.
They were in bed when Monsieur Homais, in spite of the servant,
suddenly entered the room, holding in his hand a sheet of paper
just written. It was the paragraph he intended for the "Fanal de
Rouen." He brought it for them to read.
"Read it yourself," said Bovary.
"'Despite the prejudices that still invest a part of the face of
Europe like a net, the light nevertheless begins to penetrate our
country places. Thus on Tuesday our little town of Yonville found
itself the scene of a surgical operation which is at the same
time an, act of loftiest philanthropy. Monsieur Bovary, one of
our, most distinguished practitioners--'"
"Oh, that is too much! too much!" said Charles, choking with
"No, no! not at all! What next!"
"'--Performed an operation on a club-footed man.' I have not
used the scientific term, because you know in a newspaper
everyone would not perhaps understand. The masses must--'"
"No doubt," said Bovary; "go on!"
"I proceed," said the chemist. "'Monsieur Bovary, one of our most
distinguished practitioners, performed an operation on a
club-footed man called Hippolyte Tautain, stableman for the last
twenty-five years at the hotel of the "Lion d'Or," kept by Widow
Lefrancois, at the Place d'Armes. The novelty of the attempt, and
the interest incident to the subject, had attracted such a
concourse of persons that there was a veritable obstruction on
the threshold of the establishment. The operation, moreover, was
performed as if by magic, and barely a few drops of blood
appeared on the skin, as though to say that the rebellious tendon
had at last given way beneath the efforts of art. The patient,
strangely enough--we affirm it as an eye-witness--complained of
no pain. His condition up to the present time leaves nothing to
be desired. Everything tends to show that his convelescence will
be brief; and who knows even if at our next village festivity we
shall not see our good Hippolyte figuring in the bacchic dance in
the midst of a chorus of joyous boon-companions, and thus proving
to all eyes by his verve and his capers his complete cure?
Honour, then, to the generous savants! Honour to those
indefatigable spirits who consecrate their vigils to the
amelioration or to the alleviation of their kind! Honour, thrice
honour! Is it not time to cry that the blind shall see, the deaf
hear, the lame walk? But that which fanaticism formerly promised
to its elect, science now accomplishes for all men. We shall keep
our readers informed as to the successive phases of this
This did not prevent Mere Lefrancois, from coming five days
after, scared, and crying out--
"Help! he is dying! I am going crazy!"
Charles rushed to the "Lion d'Or," and the chemist, who caught
sight of him passing along the Place hatless, abandoned his shop.
He appeared himself breathless, red, anxious, and asking everyone
who was going up the stairs--
"Why, what's the matter with our interesting strephopode?"
The strephopode was writhing in hideous convulsions, so that the
machine in which his leg was enclosed was knocked against the
wall enough to break it.
With many precautions, in order not to disturb the position of
the limb, the box was removed, and an awful sight presented
itself. The outlines of the foot disappeared in such a swelling
that the entire skin seemed about to burst, and it was covered
with ecchymosis, caused by the famous machine. Hippolyte had
already complained of suffering from it. No attention had been
paid to him; they had to acknowledge that he had not been
altogether wrong, and he was freed for a few hours. But, hardly
had the oedema gone down to some extent, than the two savants
thought fit to put back the limb in the apparatus, strapping it
tighter to hasten matters. At last, three days after, Hippolyte
being unable to endure it any longer, they once more removed
the machine, and were much surprised at the result they saw. The
livid tumefaction spread over the leg, with blisters here and
there, whence there oozed a black liquid. Matters were taking a
serious turn. Hippolyte began to worry himself, and Mere
Lefrancois, had him installed in the little room near the
kitchen, so that he might at least have some distraction.
But the tax-collector, who dined there every day, complained
bitterly of such companionship. Then Hippolyte was removed to the
billiard-room. He lay there moaning under his heavy coverings,
pale with long beard, sunken eyes, and from time to time turning
his perspiring head on the dirty pillow, where the flies
alighted. Madame Bovary went to see him. She brought him linen
for his poultices; she comforted, and encouraged him. Besides, he
did not want for company, especially on market-days, when the
peasants were knocking about the billiard-balls round him, fenced
with the cues, smoked, drank, sang, and brawled.
"How are you?" they said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Ah!
you're not up to much, it seems, but it's your own fault. You
should do this! do that!" And then they told him stories of
people who had all been cured by other remedies than his. Then by
way of consolation they added--
"You give way too much! Get up! You coddle yourself like a king!
All the same, old chap, you don't smell nice!"
Gangrene, in fact, was spreading more and more. Bovary himself
turned sick at it. He came every hour, every moment. Hippolyte
looked at him with eyes full of terror, sobbing--
"When shall I get well? Oh, save me! How unfortunate I am! How
unfortunate I am!"
And the doctor left, always recommending him to diet himself.
"Don't listen to him, my lad," said Mere Lefrancois, "Haven't
they tortured you enough already? You'll grow still weaker. Here!
And she gave him some good beef-tea, a slice of mutton, a piece
of bacon, and sometimes small glasses of brandy, that he had not
the strength to put to his lips.
Abbe Bournisien, hearing that he was growing worse, asked to see
him. He began by pitying his sufferings, declaring at the same
time that he ought to rejoice at them since it was the will of
the Lord, and take advantage of the occasion to reconcile himself
"For," said the ecclesiastic in a paternal tone, "you rather
neglected your duties; you were rarely seen at divine worship.
How many years is it since you approached the holy table? I
understand that your work, that the whirl of the world may have
kept you from care for your salvation. But now is the time to
reflect. Yet don't despair. I have known great sinners, who,
about to appear before God (you are not yet at this point I
know), had implored His mercy, and who certainly died in the best
frame of mind. Let us hope that, like them, you will set us a
good example. Thus, as a precaution, what is to prevent you from
saying morning and evening a 'Hail Mary, full of grace,' and 'Our
Father which art in heaven'? Yes, do that, for my sake, to oblige
me. That won't cost you anything. Will you promise me?"
The poor devil promised. The cure came back day after day. He
chatted with the landlady; and even told anecdotes interspersed
with jokes and puns that Hippolyte did not understand. Then, as
soon as he could, he fell back upon matters of religion, putting
on an appropriate expression of face.
His zeal seemed successful, for the club-foot soon manifested a
desire to go on a pilgrimage to Bon-Secours if he were cured; to
which Monsieur Bournisien replied that he saw no objection; two
precautions were better than one; it was no risk anyhow.
The druggist was indignant at what he called the manoeuvres of
the priest; they were prejudicial, he said, to Hippolyte's
convalescence, and he kept repeating to Madame Lefrancois, "Leave
him alone! leave him alone! You perturb his morals with your
mysticism." But the good woman would no longer listen to him; he
was the cause of it all. From a spirit of contradiction she hung
up near the bedside of the patient a basin filled with holy-water
and a branch of box.
Religion, however, seemed no more able to succour him than
surgery, and the invincible gangrene still spread from the
extremities towards the stomach. It was all very well to vary the
potions and change the poultices; the muscles each day rotted
more and more; and at last Charles replied by an affirmative nod
of the head when Mere Lefrancois, asked him if she could not, as
a forlorn hope, send for Monsieur Canivet of Neufchatel, who was
A doctor of medicine, fifty years of age, enjoying a good
position and self-possessed, Charles's colleague did not refrain
from laughing disdainfully when he had uncovered the leg,
mortified to the knee. Then having flatly declared that it must
be amputated, he went off to the chemist's to rail at the asses
who could have reduced a poor man to such a state. Shaking
Monsieur Homais by the button of his coat, he shouted out in the
"These are the inventions of Paris! These are the ideas of those
gentry of the capital! It is like strabismus, chloroform,
lithotrity, a heap of monstrosities that the Government ought to
prohibit. But they want to do the clever, and they cram you with
remedies without, troubling about the consequences. We are not so
clever, not we! We are not savants, coxcombs, fops! We are
practitioners; we cure people, and we should not dream of
operating on anyone who is in perfect health. Straighten
club-feet! As if one could straighten club-feet! It is as if
one wished, for example, to make a hunchback straight!"
Homais suffered as he listened to this discourse, and he
concealed his discomfort beneath a courtier's smile; for he
needed to humour Monsier Canivet, whose prescriptions sometimes
came as far as Yonville. So he did not take up the defence of
Bovary; he did not even make a single remark, and, renouncing his
principles, he sacrificed his dignity to the more serious
interests of his business.
This amputation of the thigh by Doctor Canivet was a great event
in the village. On that day all the inhabitants got up earlier,
and the Grande Rue, although full of people, had something
lugubrious about it, as if an execution had been expected. At the
grocer's they discussed Hippolyte's illness; the shops did no
business, and Madame Tuvache, the mayor's wife, did not stir from
her window, such was her impatience to see the operator arrive.
He came in his gig, which he drove himself. But the springs of
the right side having at length given way beneath the weight of
his corpulence, it happened that the carriage as it rolled along
leaned over a little, and on the other cushion near him could be
seen a large box covered in red sheep-leather, whose three brass
clasps shone grandly.
After he had entered like a whirlwind the porch of the "Lion
d'Or," the doctor, shouting very loud, ordered them to unharness
his horse. Then he went into the stable to see that he was eating
his oats all right; for on arriving at a patient's he first of
all looked after his mare and his gig. People even said about
"Ah! Monsieur Canivet's a character!"
And he was the more esteemed for this imperturbable coolness. The
universe to the last man might have died, and he would not have
missed the smallest of his habits.
Homais presented himself.
"I count on you," said the doctor. "Are we ready? Come along!"
But the druggist, turning red, confessed that he was too
sensitive to assist at such an operation.
"When one is a simple spectator," he said, "the imagination, you
know, is impressed. And then I have such a nervous system!"
"Pshaw!" interrupted Canivet; "on the contrary, you seem to me
inclined to apoplexy. Besides, that doesn't astonish me, for you
chemist fellows are always poking about your kitchens, which must
end by spoiling your constitutions. Now just look at me. I get up
every day at four o'clock; I shave with cold water (and am never
cold). I don't wear flannels, and I never catch cold; my carcass
is good enough! I live now in one way, now in another, like a
philosopher, taking pot-luck; that is why I am not squeamish like
you, and it is as indifferent to me to carve a Christian as the
first fowl that turns up. Then, perhaps, you will say, habit!
Then, without any consideration for Hippolyte, who was sweating
with agony between his sheets, these gentlemen entered into a
conversation, in which the druggist compared the coolness of a
surgeon to that of a general; and this comparison was pleasing to
Canivet, who launched out on the exigencies of his art. He looked
upon, it as a sacred office, although the ordinary practitioners
dishonoured it. At last, coming back to the patient, he examined
the bandages brought by Homais, the same that had appeared for
the club-foot, and asked for someone to hold the limb for him.
Lestiboudois was sent for, and Monsieur Canivet having turned up
his sleeves, passed into the billiard-room, while the druggist
stayed with Artemise and the landlady, both whiter than their
aprons, and with ears strained towards the door.
Bovary during this time did not dare to stir from his house.
He kept downstairs in the sitting-room by the side of the
fireless chimney, his chin on his breast, his hands clasped, his
eyes staring. "What a mishap!" he thought, "what a mishap!"
Perhaps, after all, he had made some slip. He thought it over,
but could hit upon nothing. But the most famous surgeons also
made mistakes; and that is what no one would ever believe!
People, on the contrary, would laugh, jeer! It would spread as
far as Forges, as Neufchatel, as Rouen, everywhere! Who could say
if his colleagues would not write against him. Polemics would
ensue; he would have to answer in the papers. Hippolyte might
even prosecute him. He saw himself dishonoured, ruined, lost; and
his imagination, assailed by a world of hypotheses, tossed
amongst them like an empty cask borne by the sea and floating
upon the waves.
Emma, opposite, watched him; she did not share his humiliation;
she felt another--that of having supposed such a man was worth
anything. As if twenty times already she had not sufficiently
perceived his mediocrity.
Charles was walking up and down the room; his boots creaked on
"Sit down," she said; "you fidget me."
He sat down again.
How was it that she--she, who was so intelligent--could have
allowed herself to be deceived again? and through what deplorable
madness had she thus ruined her life by continual sacrifices? She
recalled all her instincts of luxury, all the privations of her
soul, the sordidness of marriage, of the household, her dream
sinking into the mire like wounded swallows; all that she had
longed for, all that she had denied herself, all that she might
have had! And for what? for what?
In the midst of the silence that hung over the village a
heart-rending cry rose on the air. Bovary turned white to
fainting. She knit her brows with a nervous gesture, then went
on. And it was for him, for this creature, for this man, who
understood nothing, who felt nothing! For he was there quite
quiet, not even suspecting that the ridicule of his name would
henceforth sully hers as well as his. She had made efforts to
love him, and she had repented with tears for having yielded to
"But it was perhaps a valgus!" suddenly exclaimed Bovary, who was
At the unexpected shock of this phrase falling on her thought
like a leaden bullet on a silver plate, Emma, shuddering, raised
her head in order to find out what he meant to say; and they
looked at the other in silence, almost amazed to see each other,
so far sundered were they by their inner thoughts. Charles gazed
at her with the dull look of a drunken man, while he listened
motionless to the last cries of the sufferer, that followed each
other in long-drawn modulations, broken by sharp spasms like the
far-off howling of some beast being slaughtered. Emma bit her wan
lips, and rolling between her fingers a piece of coral that she
had broken, fixed on Charles the burning glance of her eyes like
two arrows of fire about to dart forth. Everything in him
irritated her now; his face, his dress, what he did not say, his
whole person, his existence, in fine. She repented of her past
virtue as of a crime, and what still remained of it rumbled away
beneath the furious blows of her pride. She revelled in all the
evil ironies of triumphant adultery. The memory of her lover came
back to her with dazzling attractions; she threw her whole soul
into it, borne away towards this image with a fresh enthusiasm;
and Charles seemed to her as much removed from her life, as
absent forever, as impossible and annihilated, as if he had been
about to die and were passing under her eyes.
There was a sound of steps on the pavement. Charles looked up,
and through the lowered blinds he saw at the corner of the market
in the broad sunshine Dr. Canivet, who was wiping his brow with
his handkerchief. Homais, behind him, was carrying a large red
box in his hand, and both were going towards the chemist's.
Then with a feeling of sudden tenderness and discouragement
Charles turned to his wife saying to her--
"Oh, kiss me, my own!"
"Leave me!" she said, red with anger.
"What is the matter?" he asked, stupefied. "Be calm; compose
yourself. You know well enough that I love you. Come!"
"Enough!" she cried with a terrible look.
And escaping from the room, Emma closed the door so violently
that the barometer fell from the wall and smashed on the floor.
Charles sank back into his arm-chair overwhelmed, trying to
discover what could be wrong with her, fancying some nervous
illness, weeping, and vaguely feeling something fatal and
incomprehensible whirling round him.
When Rodolphe came to the garden that evening, he found his
mistress waiting for him at the foot of the steps on the lowest
stair. They threw their arms round one another, and all their
rancour melted like snow beneath the warmth of that kiss.
They began to love one another again. Often, even in the middle
of the day, Emma suddenly wrote to him, then from the window made
a sign to Justin, who, taking his apron off, quickly ran to La
Huchette. Rodolphe would come; she had sent for him to tell him
that she was bored, that her husband was odious, her life
"But what can I do?" he cried one day impatiently.
"Ah! if you would--"
She was sitting on the floor between his knees, her hair loose,
her look lost.
"Why, what?" said Rodolphe.
"We would go and live elsewhere--somewhere!"
"You are really mad!" he said laughing. "How could that be
She returned to the subject; he pretended not to understand, and
turned the conversation.
What he did not understand was all this worry about so simple an
affair as love. She had a motive, a reason, and, as it were, a
pendant to her affection.
Her tenderness, in fact, grew each day with her repulsion to her
husband. The more she gave up herself to the one, the more she
loathed the other. Never had Charles seemed to her so
disagreeable, to have such stodgy fingers, such vulgar ways, to
be so dull as when they found themselves together after her
meeting with Rodolphe. Then, while playing the spouse and virtue,
she was burning at the thought of that head whose black hair fell
in a curl over the sunburnt brow, of that form at once so strong
and elegant, of that man, in a word, who had such experience in
his reasoning, such passion in his desires. It was for him that
she filed her nails with the care of a chaser, and that there was
never enough cold-cream for her skin, nor of patchouli for her
handkerchiefs. She loaded herself with bracelets, rings, and
necklaces. When he was coming she filled the two large blue glass
vases with roses, and prepared her room and her person like a
courtesan expecting a prince. The servant had to be constantly
washing linen, and all day Felicite did not stir from the
kitchen, where little Justin, who often kept her company, watched
her at work.
With his elbows on the long board on which she was ironing, he
greedily watched all these women's clothes spread about him, the
dimity petticoats, the fichus, the collars, and the drawers with
running strings, wide at the hips and growing narrower below.
"What is that for?" asked the young fellow, passing his hand over
the crinoline or the hooks and eyes.
"Why, haven't you ever seen anything?" Felicite answered
laughing. "As if your mistress, Madame Homais, didn't wear the
"Oh, I daresay! Madame Homais!" And he added with a meditative
air, "As if she were a lady like madame!"
But Felicite grew impatient of seeing him hanging round her. She
was six years older than he, and Theodore, Monsieur Guillaumin's
servant, was beginning to pay court to her.
"Let me alone," she said, moving her pot of starch. "You'd better
be off and pound almonds; you are always dangling about women.
Before you meddle with such things, bad boy, wait till you've got
a beard to your chin."
"Oh, don't be cross! I'll go and clean her boots."
And he at once took down from the shelf Emma's boots, all coated
with mud, the mud of the rendezvous, that crumbled into powder
beneath his fingers, and that he watched as it gently rose in a
ray of sunlight.
"How afraid you are of spoiling them!" said the servant, who
wasn't so particular when she cleaned them herself, because as
soon as the stuff of the boots was no longer fresh madame handed
them over to her.
Emma had a number in her cupboard that she squandered one after
the other, without Charles allowing himself the slightest
observation. So also he disbursed three hundred francs for a
wooden leg that she thought proper to make a present of to
Hippolyte. Its top was covered with cork, and it had spring
joints, a complicated mechanism, covered over by black trousers
ending in a patent-leather boot. But Hippolyte, not daring to use
such a handsome leg every day, begged Madame Bovary to get him
another more convenient one. The doctor, of course, had again to
defray the expense of this purchase.
So little by little the stable-man took up his work again. One
saw him running about the village as before, and when Charles
heard from afar the sharp noise of the wooden leg, he at once
went in another direction.
It was Monsieur Lheureux, the shopkeeper, who had undertaken the
order; this provided him with an excuse for visiting Emma. He
chatted with her about the new goods from Paris, about a thousand
feminine trifles, made himself very obliging, and never asked for
his money. Emma yielded to this lazy mode of satisfying all her
caprices. Thus she wanted to have a very handsome ridding-whip
that was at an umbrella-maker's at Rouen to give to Rodolphe. The
week after Monsieur Lheureux placed it on her table.
But the next day he called on her with a bill for two hundred and
seventy francs, not counting the centimes. Emma was much
embarrassed; all the drawers of the writing-table were empty;
they owed over a fortnight's wages to Lestiboudois, two quarters
to the servant, for any quantity of other things, and Bovary was
impatiently expecting Monsieur Derozeray's account, which he was
in the habit of paying every year about Midsummer.
She succeeded at first in putting off Lheureux. At last he lost
patience; he was being sued; his capital was out, and unless he
got some in he should be forced to take back all the goods she
"Oh, very well, take them!" said Emma.
"I was only joking," he replied; "the only thing I regret is the
whip. My word! I'll ask monsieur to return it to me."
"No, no!" she said.
"Ah! I've got you!" thought Lheureux.
And, certain of his discovery, he went out repeating to himself
in an undertone, and with his usual low whistle--
"Good! we shall see! we shall see!"
She was thinking how to get out of this when the servant coming
in put on the mantelpiece a small roll of blue paper "from
Monsieur Derozeray's." Emma pounced upon and opened it. It
contained fifteen napoleons; it was the account. She heard
Charles on the stairs; threw the gold to the back of her drawer,
and took out the key.
Three days after Lheureux reappeared.
"I have an arrangement to suggest to you," he said. "If, instead
of the sum agreed on, you would take--"
"Here it is," she said placing fourteen napoleons in his hand.
The tradesman was dumfounded. Then, to conceal his
disappointment, he was profuse in apologies and proffers of
service, all of which Emma declined; then she remained a few
moments fingering in the pocket of her apron the two five-franc
pieces that he had given her in change. She promised herself she
would economise in order to pay back later on. "Pshaw!" she
thought, "he won't think about it again."
Besides the riding-whip with its silver-gilt handle, Rodolphe had
received a seal with the motto Amor nel cor* furthermore, a scarf
for a muffler, and, finally, a cigar-case exactly like the
Viscount's, that Charles had formerly picked up in the road, and
that Emma had kept. These presents, however, humiliated him; he
refused several; she insisted, and he ended by obeying, thinking
her tyrannical and overexacting.
*A loving heart.
Then she had strange ideas.
"When midnight strikes," she said, "you must think of me."
And if he confessed that he had not thought of her, there were
floods of reproaches that always ended with the eternal question--
"Do you love me?"
"Why, of course I love you," he answered.
"A great deal?"
"You haven't loved any others?"
"Did you think you'd got a virgin?" he exclaimed laughing.
Emma cried, and he tried to console her, adorning his
protestations with puns.
"Oh," she went on, "I love you! I love you so that I could not
live without you, do you see? There are times when I long to see
you again, when I am torn by all the anger of love. I ask myself,
Where is he? Perhaps he is talking to other women. They smile
upon him; he approaches. Oh no; no one else pleases you. There
are some more beautiful, but I love you best. I know how to love
best. I am your servant, your concubine! You are my king, my
idol! You are good, you are beautiful, you are clever, you are
He had so often heard these things said that they did not strike
him as original. Emma was like all his mistresses; and the charm
of novelty, gradually falling away like a garment, laid bare the
eternal monotony of passion, that has always the same forms and
the same language. He did not distinguish, this man of so much
experience, the difference of sentiment beneath the sameness of
expression. Because lips libertine and venal had murmured such
words to him, he believed but little in the candour of hers;
exaggerated speeches hiding mediocre affections must be
discounted; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes
overflow in the emptiest metaphors, since no one can ever give
the exact measure of his needs, nor of his conceptions, nor of
his sorrows; and since human speech is like a cracked tin kettle,
on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to
move the stars.
But with that superior critical judgment that belongs to him who,
in no matter what circumstance, holds back, Rodolphe saw other
delights to be got out of this love. He thought all modesty in
the way. He treated her quite sans facon.* He made of her
something supple and corrupt. Hers was an idiotic sort of
attachment, full of admiration for him, of voluptuousness for
her, a beatitude that benumbed her; her soul sank into this
drunkenness, shrivelled up, drowned in it, like Clarence in his
butt of Malmsey.
By the mere effect of her love Madame Bovary's manners changed.
Her looks grew bolder, her speech more free; she even committed
the impropriety of walking out with Monsieur Rodolphe, a
cigarette in her mouth, "as if to defy the people." At last,
those who still doubted doubted no longer when one day they saw
her getting out of the "Hirondelle," her waist squeezed into a
waistcoat like a man; and Madame Bovary senior, who, after a
fearful scene with her husband, had taken refuge at her son's,
was not the least scandalised of the women-folk. Many other
things displeased her. First, Charles had not attended to her
advice about the forbidding of novels; then the "ways of the
house" annoyed her; she allowed herself to make some remarks, and
there were quarrels, especially one on account of Felicite.
Madame Bovary senior, the evening before, passing along the
passage, had surprised her in company of a man--a man with a
brown collar, about forty years old, who, at the sound of her
step, had quickly escaped through the kitchen. Then Emma began to
laugh, but the good lady grew angry, declaring that unless morals
were to be laughed at one ought to look after those of one's
"Where were you brought up?" asked the daughter-in-law, with so
impertinent a look that Madame Bovary asked her if she were not
perhaps defending her own case.
"Leave the room!" said the young woman, springing up with a
"Emma! Mamma!" cried Charles, trying to reconcile them.
But both had fled in their exasperation. Emma was stamping her
feet as she repeated--
"Oh! what manners! What a peasant!"
He ran to his mother; she was beside herself. She stammered
"She is an insolent, giddy-headed thing, or perhaps worse!"
And she was for leaving at once if the other did not apologise.
So Charles went back again to his wife and implored her to give
way; he knelt to her; she ended by saying--
"Very well! I'll go to her."
And in fact she held out her hand to her mother-in-law with the
dignity of a marchioness as she said--
"Excuse me, madame."
Then, having gone up again to her room, she threw herself flat on
her bed and cried there like a child, her face buried in the
She and Rodolphe had agreed that in the event of anything
extraordinary occurring, she should fasten a small piece of white
paper to the blind, so that if by chance he happened to be in
Yonville, he could hurry to the lane behind the house. Emma made
the signal; she had been waiting three-quarters of an hour when
she suddenly caught sight of Rodolphe at the corner of the
market. She felt tempted to open the window and call him, but he
had already disappeared. She fell back in despair.
Soon, however, it seemed to her that someone was walking on the
pavement. It was he, no doubt. She went downstairs, crossed the
yard. He was there outside. She threw herself into his arms.
"Do take care!" he said.
"Ah! if you knew!" she replied.
And she began telling him everything, hurriedly, disjointedly,
exaggerating the facts, inventing many, and so prodigal of
parentheses that he understood nothing of it.
"Come, my poor angel, courage! Be comforted! be patient!"
"But I have been patient; I have suffered for four years. A love
like ours ought to show itself in the face of heaven. They
torture me! I can bear it no longer! Save me!"
She clung to Rodolphe. Her eyes, full of tears, flashed like
flames beneath a wave; her breast heaved; he had never loved her
so much, so that he lost his head and said "What is, it? What do
"Take me away," she cried, "carry me off! Oh, I pray you!"
And she threw herself upon his mouth, as if to seize there the
unexpected consent if breathed forth in a kiss.
"But--" Rodolphe resumed.
"Your little girl!"
She reflected a few moments, then replied--
"We will take her! It can't be helped!"
"What a woman!" he said to himself, watching her as she went. For
she had run into the garden. Someone was calling her.
On the following days Madame Bovary senior was much surprised at
the change in her daughter-in-law. Emma, in fact, was showing
herself more docile, and even carried her deference so far as to
ask for a recipe for pickling gherkins.
Was it the better to deceive them both? Or did she wish by a sort
of voluptuous stoicism to feel the more profoundly the bitterness
of the things she was about to leave?
But she paid no heed to them; on the contrary, she lived as lost
in the anticipated delight of her coming happiness.
It was an eternal subject for conversation with Rodolphe. She
leant on his shoulder murmuring--
"Ah! when we are in the mail-coach! Do you think about it? Can it
be? It seems to me that the moment I feel the carriage start, it
will be as if we were rising in a balloon, as if we were setting
out for the clouds. Do you know that I count the hours? And you?"
Never had Madame Bovary been so beautiful as at this period; she
had that indefinable beauty that results from joy, from
enthusiasm, from success, and that is only the harmony of
temperament with circumstances. Her desires, her sorrows, the
experience of pleasure, and her ever-young illusions, that had,
as soil and rain and winds and the sun make flowers grow,
gradually developed her, and she at length blossomed forth in all
the plenitude of her nature. Her eyelids seemed chiselled
expressly for her long amorous looks in which the pupil
disappeared, while a strong inspiration expanded her delicate
nostrils and raised the fleshy corner of her lips, shaded in the
light by a little black down. One would have thought that an
artist apt in conception had arranged the curls of hair upon her
neck; they fell in a thick mass, negligently, and with the
changing chances of their adultery, that unbound them every day.
Her voice now took more mellow infections, her figure also;
something subtle and penetrating escaped even from the folds of
her gown and from the line of her foot. Charles, as when they
were first married, thought her delicious and quite irresistible.
When he came home in the middle of the night, he did not dare to
wake her. The porcelain night-light threw a round trembling gleam
upon the ceiling, and the drawn curtains of the little cot formed
as it were a white hut standing out in the shade, and by the
bedside Charles looked at them. He seemed to hear the light
breathing of his child. She would grow big now; every season
would bring rapid progress. He already saw her coming from school
as the day drew in, laughing, with ink-stains on her jacket, and
carrying her basket on her arm. Then she would have to be sent to
the boarding-school; that would cost much; how was it to be done?
Then he reflected. He thought of hiring a small farm in the
neighbourhood, that he would superintend every morning on his way
to his patients. He would save up what he brought in; he would
put it in the savings-bank. Then he would buy shares somewhere,
no matter where; besides, his practice would increase; he counted
upon that, for he wanted Berthe to be well-educated, to be
accomplished, to learn to play the piano. Ah! how pretty she
would be later on when she was fifteen, when, resembling her
mother, she would, like her, wear large straw hats in the
summer-time; from a distance they would be taken for two sisters.
He pictured her to himself working in the evening by their side
beneath the light of the lamp; she would embroider him slippers;
she would look after the house; she would fill all the home with
her charm and her gaiety. At last, they would think of her
marriage; they would find her some good young fellow with a
steady business; he would make her happy; this would last for
Emma was not asleep; she pretended to be; and while he dozed off
by her side she awakened to other dreams.
To the gallop of four horses she was carried away for a week
towards a new land, whence they would return no more. They went
on and on, their arms entwined, without a word. Often from the
top of a mountain there suddenly glimpsed some splendid city with
domes, and bridges, and ships, forests of citron trees, and
cathedrals of white marble, on whose pointed steeples were
storks' nests. They went at a walking-pace because of the great
flag-stones, and on the ground there were bouquets of flowers,
offered you by women dressed in red bodices. They heard the
chiming of bells, the neighing of mules, together with the murmur
of guitars and the noise of fountains, whose rising spray
refreshed heaps of fruit arranged like a pyramid at the foot of
pale statues that smiled beneath playing waters. And then, one
night they came to a fishing village, where brown nets were
drying in the wind along the cliffs and in front of the huts. It
was there that they would stay; they would live in a low,
flat-roofed house, shaded by a palm-tree, in the heart of a gulf,
by the sea. They would row in gondolas, swing in hammocks, and
their existence would be easy and large as their silk gowns, warm
and star-spangled as the nights they would contemplate. However,
in the immensity of this future that she conjured up, nothing
special stood forth; the days, all magnificent, resembled
each other like waves; and it swayed in the horizon, infinite,
harmonised, azure, and bathed in sunshine. But the child began to
cough in her cot or Bovary snored more loudly, and Emma did not
fall asleep till morning, when the dawn whitened the windows, and
when little Justin was already in the square taking down the
shutters of the chemist's shop.
She had sent for Monsieur Lheureux, and had said to him--
"I want a cloak--a large lined cloak with a deep collar."
"You are going on a journey?" he asked.
"No; but--never mind. I may count on you, may I not, and
"Besides, I shall want," she went on, "a trunk--not too heavy--
"Yes, yes, I understand. About three feet by a foot and a half,
as they are being made just now."
"And a travelling bag."
"Decidedly," thought Lheureux. "there's a row on here."
"And," said Madame Bovary, taking her watch from her belt, "take
this; you can pay yourself out of it."
But the tradesman cried out that she was wrong; they knew one
another; did he doubt her? What childishness!
She insisted, however, on his taking at least the chain, and
Lheureux had already put it in his pocket and was going, when she
called him back.
"You will leave everything at your place. As to the cloak"--she
seemed to be reflecting--"do not bring it either; you can give me
the maker's address, and tell him to have it ready for me."
It was the next month that they were to run away. She was to
leave Yonville as if she was going on some business to Rouen.
Rodolphe would have booked the seats, procured the passports, and
even have written to Paris in order to have the whole mail-coach
reserved for them as far as Marseilles, where they would buy a
carriage, and go on thence without stopping to Genoa. She would
take care to send her luggage to Lheureux whence it would be
taken direct to the "Hirondelle," so that no one would have any
suspicion. And in all this there never was any allusion to the
child. Rodolphe avoided speaking of her; perhaps he no longer
thought about it.
He wished to have two more weeks before him to arrange some
affairs; then at the end of a week he wanted two more; then he
said he was ill; next he went on a journey. The month of August
passed, and, after all these delays, they decided that it was to
be irrevocably fixed for the 4th September--a Monday.
At length the Saturday before arrived.
Rodolphe came in the evening earlier than usual.
"Everything is ready?" she asked him.
Then they walked round a garden-bed, and went to sit down near
the terrace on the kerb-stone of the wall.
"You are sad," said Emma.
And yet he looked at her strangely in a tender fashion.
"It is because you are going away?" she went on; "because you are
leaving what is dear to you--your life? Ah! I understand. I have
nothing in the world! you are all to me; so shall I be to you. I
will be your people, your country; I will tend, I will love you!"
"How sweet you are!" he said, seizing her in his arms.
"Really!" she said with a voluptuous laugh. "Do you love me?
Swear it then!"
"Do I love you--love you? I adore you, my love."
The moon, full and purple-coloured, was rising right out of the
earth at the end of the meadow. She rose quickly between the
branches of the poplars, that hid her here and there like a black
curtain pierced with holes. Then she appeared dazzling with
whiteness in the empty heavens that she lit up, and now sailing
more slowly along, let fall upon the river a great stain that
broke up into an infinity of stars; and the silver sheen seemed
to writhe through the very depths like a heedless serpent covered
with luminous scales; it also resembled some monster candelabra
all along which sparkled drops of diamonds running together. The
soft night was about them; masses of shadow filled the branches.
Emma, her eyes half closed, breathed in with deep sighs the fresh
wind that was blowing. They did not speak, lost as they were in
the rush of their reverie. The tenderness of the old days came
back to their hearts, full and silent as the flowing river, with
the softness of the perfume of the syringas, and threw across
their memories shadows more immense and more sombre than those of
the still willows that lengthened out over the grass. Often some
night-animal, hedgehog or weasel, setting out on the hunt,
disturbed the lovers, or sometimes they heard a ripe peach
falling all alone from the espalier.
"Ah! what a lovely night!" said Rodolphe.
"We shall have others," replied Emma; and, as if speaking to
herself: "Yet, it will be good to travel. And yet, why should my
heart be so heavy? Is it dread of the unknown? The effect of
habits left? Or rather--? No; it is the excess of happiness. How
weak I am, am I not? Forgive me!"
"There is still time!" he cried. "Reflect! perhaps you may
"Never!" she cried impetuously. And coming closer to him: "What
ill could come to me? There is no desert, no precipice, no ocean
I would not traverse with you. The longer we live together the
more it will be like an embrace, every day closer, more heart to
heart. There will be nothing to trouble us, no cares, no
obstacle. We shall be alone, all to ourselves eternally. Oh,
speak! Answer me!"
At regular intervals he answered, "Yes--Yes--" She had passed her
hands through his hair, and she repeated in a childlike voice,
despite the big tears which were falling, "Rodolphe! Rodolphe!
Ah! Rodolphe! dear little Rodolphe!"
"Midnight!" said she. "Come, it is to-morrow. One day more!"
He rose to go; and as if the movement he made had been the signal
for their flight, Emma said, suddenly assuming a gay air--
"You have the passports?"
"You are forgetting nothing?"
"Are you sure?"
"It is at the Hotel de Provence, is it not, that you will wait
for me at midday?"