Part 6 out of 8
pains in their entrails.
"Or poison a patient!" continued the druggist. "Do you want to
see me in the prisoner's dock with criminals, in a court of
justice? To see me dragged to the scaffold? Don't you know what
care I take in managing things, although I am so thoroughly used
to it? Often I am horrified myself when I think of my
responsibility; for the Government persecutes us, and the absurd
legislation that rules us is a veritable Damocles' sword over our
Emma no longer dreamed of asking what they wanted her for, and
the druggist went on in breathless phrases--
"That is your return for all the kindness we have shown you! That
is how you recompense me for the really paternal care that I
lavish on you! For without me where would you be? What would you
be doing? Who provides you with food, education, clothes, and all
the means of figuring one day with honour in the ranks of
society? But you must pull hard at the oar if you're to do that,
and get, as, people say, callosities upon your hands. Fabricando
fit faber, age quod agis.*"
* The worker lives by working, do what he will.
He was so exasperated he quoted Latin. He would have quoted
Chinese or Greenlandish had he known those two languages, for he
was in one of those crises in which the whole soul shows
indistinctly what it contains, like the ocean, which, in the
storm, opens itself from the seaweeds on its shores down to the
sands of its abysses.
And he went on--
"I am beginning to repent terribly of having taken you up! I
should certainly have done better to have left you to rot in your
poverty and the dirt in which you were born. Oh, you'll never be
fit for anything but to herd animals with horns! You have no
aptitude for science! You hardly know how to stick on a label!
And there you are, dwelling with me snug as a parson, living in
clover, taking your ease!"
But Emma, turning to Madame Homais, "I was told to come here--"
"Oh, dear me!" interrupted the good woman, with a sad air, "how
am I to tell you? It is a misfortune!"
She could not finish, the druggist was thundering--"Empty it!
Clean it! Take it back! Be quick!"
And seizing Justin by the collar of his blouse, he shook a book
out of his pocket. The lad stooped, but Homais was the quicker,
and, having picked up the volume, contemplated it with staring
eyes and open mouth.
"CONJUGAL--LOVE!" he said, slowly separating the two words. "Ah!
very good! very good! very pretty! And illustrations! Oh, this is
Madame Homais came forward.
"No, do not touch it!"
The children wanted to look at the pictures.
"Leave the room," he said imperiously; and they went out.
First he walked up and down with the open volume in his hand,
rolling his eyes, choking, tumid, apoplectic. Then he came
straight to his pupil, and, planting himself in front of him with
"Have you every vice, then, little wretch? Take care! you are on
a downward path. Did not you reflect that this infamous book
might fall in the hands of my children, kindle a spark in their
minds, tarnish the purity of Athalie, corrupt Napoleon. He is
already formed like a man. Are you quite sure, anyhow, that they
have not read it? Can you certify to me--"
"But really, sir," said Emma, "you wished to tell me--"
"Ah, yes! madame. Your father-in-law is dead."
In fact, Monsieur Bovary senior had expired the evening before
suddenly from an attack of apoplexy as he got up from table, and
by way of greater precaution, on account of Emma's sensibility,
Charles had begged Homais to break the horrible news to her
gradually. Homais had thought over his speech; he had rounded,
polished it, made it rhythmical; it was a masterpiece of prudence
and transitions, of subtle turns and delicacy; but anger had got
the better of rhetoric.
Emma, giving up all chance of hearing any details, left the
pharmacy; for Monsieur Homais had taken up the thread of his
vituperations. However, he was growing calmer, and was now
grumbling in a paternal tone whilst he fanned himself with his
"It is not that I entirely disapprove of the work. Its author was
a doctor! There are certain scientific points in it that it is
not ill a man should know, and I would even venture to say that a
man must know. But later--later! At any rate, not till you are
man yourself and your temperament is formed."
When Emma knocked at the door. Charles, who was waiting for her,
came forward with open arms and said to her with tears in his
"Ah! my dear!"
And he bent over her gently to kiss her. But at the contact of
his lips the memory of the other seized her, and she passed her
hand over her face shuddering.
But she made answer, "Yes, I know, I know!"
He showed her the letter in which his mother told the event
without any sentimental hypocrisy. She only regretted her husband
had not received the consolations of religion, as he had died at
Daudeville, in the street, at the door of a cafe after a
patriotic dinner with some ex-officers.
Emma gave him back the letter; then at dinner, for appearance's
sake, she affected a certain repugnance. But as he urged her to
try, she resolutely began eating, while Charles opposite her sat
motionless in a dejected attitude.
Now and then he raised his head and gave her a long look full of
distress. Once he sighed, "I should have liked to see him again!"
She was silent. At last, understanding that she must say
something, "How old was your father?" she asked.
And that was all.
A quarter of an hour after he added, "My poor mother! what will
become of her now?"
She made a gesture that signified she did not know. Seeing her so
taciturn, Charles imagined her much affected, and forced himself
to say nothing, not to reawaken this sorrow which moved him. And,
shaking off his own--
"Did you enjoy yourself yesterday?" he asked.
When the cloth was removed, Bovary did not rise, nor did Emma;
and as she looked at him, the monotony of the spectacle drove
little by little all pity from her heart. He seemed to her
paltry, weak, a cipher--in a word, a poor thing in every way. How
to get rid of him? What an interminable evening! Something
stupefying like the fumes of opium seized her.
They heard in the passage the sharp noise of a wooden leg on the
boards. It was Hippolyte bringing back Emma's luggage. In order
to put it down he described painfully a quarter of a circle with
"He doesn't even remember any more about it," she thought,
looking at the poor devil, whose coarse red hair was wet with
Bovary was searching at the bottom of his purse for a centime,
and without appearing to understand all there was of humiliation
for him in the mere presence of this man, who stood there like a
personified reproach to his incurable incapacity.
"Hallo! you've a pretty bouquet," he said, noticing Leon's
violets on the chimney.
"Yes," she replied indifferently; "it's a bouquet I bought just
now from a beggar."
Charles picked up the flowers, and freshening his eyes, red with
tears, against them, smelt them delicately.
She took them quickly from his hand and put them in a glass of
The next day Madame Bovary senior arrived. She and her son wept
much. Emma, on the pretext of giving orders, disappeared. The
following day they had a talk over the mourning. They went and
sat down with their workboxes by the waterside under the arbour.
Charles was thinking of his father, and was surprised to feel so
much affection for this man, whom till then he had thought he
cared little about. Madame Bovary senior was thinking of her
husband. The worst days of the past seemed enviable to her. All
was forgotten beneath the instinctive regret of such a long
habit, and from time to time whilst she sewed, a big tear rolled
along her nose and hung suspended there a moment. Emma was
thinking that it was scarcely forty-eight hours since they had
been together, far from the world, all in a frenzy of joy, and
not having eyes enough to gaze upon each other. She tried to
recall the slightest details of that past day. But the presence
of her husband and mother-in-law worried her. She would have
liked to hear nothing, to see nothing, so as not to disturb the
meditation on her love, that, do what she would, became lost in
She was unpicking the lining of a dress, and the strips were
scattered around her. Madame Bovary senior was plying her scissor
without looking up, and Charles, in his list slippers and his old
brown surtout that he used as a dressing-gown, sat with both
hands in his pockets, and did not speak either; near them Berthe,
in a little white pinafore, was raking sand in the walks with her
spade. Suddenly she saw Monsieur Lheureux, the linendraper, come
in through the gate.
He came to offer his services "under the sad circumstances." Emma
answered that she thought she could do without. The shopkeeper
was not to be beaten.
"I beg your pardon," he said, "but I should like to have a
private talk with you." Then in a low voice, "It's about that
Charles crimsoned to his ears. "Oh, yes! certainly." And in his
confusion, turning to his wife, "Couldn't you, my darling?"
She seemed to understand him, for she rose; and Charles said to
his mother, "It is nothing particular. No doubt, some household
trifle." He did not want her to know the story of the bill,
fearing her reproaches.
As soon as they were alone, Monsieur Lheureux in sufficiently
clear terms began to congratulate Emma on the inheritance, then
to talk of indifferent matters, of the espaliers, of the harvest,
and of his own health, which was always so-so, always having ups
and downs. In fact, he had to work devilish hard, although he
didn't make enough, in spite of all people said, to find butter
for his bread.
Emma let him talk on. She had bored herself so prodigiously the
last two days.
"And so you're quite well again?" he went on. "Ma foi! I saw your
husband in a sad state. He's a good fellow, though we did have a
She asked what misunderstanding, for Charles had said nothing of
the dispute about the goods supplied to her.
"Why, you know well enough," cried Lheureux. "It was about your
little fancies--the travelling trunks."
He had drawn his hat over his eyes, and, with his hands behind
his back, smiling and whistling, he looked straight at her in an
unbearable manner. Did he suspect anything?
She was lost in all kinds of apprehensions. At last, however, he
"We made it up, all the same, and I've come again to propose
This was to renew the bill Bovary had signed. The doctor, of
course, would do as he pleased; he was not to trouble himself,
especially just now, when he would have a lot of worry. "And he
would do better to give it over to someone else--to you, for
example. With a power of attorney it could be easily managed, and
then we (you and I) would have our little business transactions
She did not understand. He was silent. Then, passing to his
trade, Lheureux declared that madame must require something. He
would send her a black barege, twelve yards, just enough to make
"The one you've on is good enough for the house, but you want
another for calls. I saw that the very moment that I came in.
I've the eye of an American!"
He did not send the stuff; he brought it. Then he came again to
measure it; he came again on other pretexts, always trying to
make himself agreeable, useful, "enfeoffing himself," as Homais
would have said, and always dropping some hint to Emma about the
power of attorney. He never mentioned the bill; she did not think
of it. Charles, at the beginning of her convalescence, had
certainly said something about it to her, but so many emotions
had passed through her head that she no longer remembered it.
Besides, she took care not to talk of any money questions. Madame
Bovary seemed surprised at this, and attributed the change in her
ways to the religious sentiments she had contracted during her
But as soon as she was gone, Emma greatly astounded Bovary by her
practical good sense. It would be necessary to make inquiries, to
look into mortgages, and see if there were any occasion for a
sale by auction or a liquidation. She quoted technical terms
casually, pronounced the grand words of order, the future,
foresight, and constantly exaggerated the difficulties of
settling his father's affairs so much, that at last one day she
showed him the rough draft of a power of attorney to manage and
administer his business, arrange all loans, sign and endorse all
bills, pay all sums, etc. She had profited by Lheureux's lessons.
Charles naively asked her where this paper came from.
"Monsieur Guillaumin"; and with the utmost coolness she added, "I
don't trust him overmuch. Notaries have such a bad reputation.
Perhaps we ought to consult--we only know--no one."
"Unless Leon--" replied Charles, who was reflecting. But it was
difficult to explain matters by letter. Then she offered to make
the journey, but he thanked her. She insisted. It was quite a
contest of mutual consideration. At last she cried with affected
"No, I will go!"
"How good you are!" he said, kissing her forehead.
The next morning she set out in the "Hirondelle" to go to Rouen
to consult Monsieur Leon, and she stayed there three days.
They were three full, exquisite days--a true honeymoon. They were
at the Hotel-de-Boulogne, on the harbour; and they lived there,
with drawn blinds and closed doors, with flowers on the floor,
and iced syrups were brought them early in the morning.
Towards evening they took a covered boat and went to dine on one
of the islands. It was the time when one hears by the side of the
dockyard the caulking-mallets sounding against the hull of
vessels. The smoke of the tar rose up between the trees; there
were large fatty drops on the water, undulating in the purple
colour of the sun, like floating plaques of Florentine bronze.
They rowed down in the midst of moored boats, whose long oblique
cables grazed lightly against the bottom of the boat. The din of
the town gradually grew distant; the rolling of carriages, the
tumult of voices, the yelping of dogs on the decks of vessels.
She took off her bonnet, and they landed on their island.
They sat down in the low-ceilinged room of a tavern, at whose
door hung black nets. They ate fried smelts, cream and cherries.
They lay down upon the grass; they kissed behind the poplars; and
they would fain, like two Robinsons, have lived for ever in this
little place, which seemed to them in their beatitude the most
magnificent on earth. It was not the first time that they had
seen trees, a blue sky, meadows; that they had heard the water
flowing and the wind blowing in the leaves; but, no doubt, they
had never admired all this, as if Nature had not existed before,
or had only begun to be beautiful since the gratification of
At night they returned. The boat glided along the shores of the
islands. They sat at the bottom, both hidden by the shade, in
silence. The square oars rang in the iron thwarts, and, in the
stillness, seemed to mark time, like the beating of a metronome,
while at the stern the rudder that trailed behind never ceased
its gentle splash against the water.
Once the moon rose; they did not fail to make fine phrases,
finding the orb melancholy and full of poetry. She even began to
"One night, do you remember, we were sailing," etc.
Her musical but weak voice died away along the waves, and the
winds carried off the trills that Leon heard pass like the
flapping of wings about him.
She was opposite him, leaning against the partition of the
shallop, through one of whose raised blinds the moon streamed in.
Her black dress, whose drapery spread out like a fan, made her
seem more slender, taller. Her head was raised, her hands
clasped, her eyes turned towards heaven. At times the shadow of
the willows hid her completely; then she reappeared suddenly,
like a vision in the moonlight.
Leon, on the floor by her side, found under his hand a ribbon of
scarlet silk. The boatman looked at it, and at last said--
"Perhaps it belongs to the party I took out the other day. A lot
of jolly folk, gentlemen and ladies, with cakes, champagne,
cornets--everything in style! There was one especially, a tall
handsome man with small moustaches, who was that funny! And they
all kept saying, 'Now tell us something, Adolphe--Dolpe,' I
"You are in pain?" asked Leon, coming closer to her.
"Oh, it's nothing! No doubt, it is only the night air."
"And who doesn't want for women, either," softly added the
sailor, thinking he was paying the stranger a compliment.
Then, spitting on his hands, he took the oars again.
Yet they had to part. The adieux were sad. He was to send his
letters to Mere Rollet, and she gave him such precise
instructions about a double envelope that he admired greatly her
"So you can assure me it is all right?" she said with her last
"But why," he thought afterwards as he came back through the
streets alone, "is she so very anxious to get this power of
Leon soon put on an air of superiority before his comrades,
avoided their company, and completely neglected his work.
He waited for her letters; he re-read them; he wrote to her. He
called her to mind with all the strength of his desires and of
his memories. Instead of lessening with absence, this longing to
see her again grew, so that at last on Saturday morning he
escaped from his office.
When, from the summit of the hill, he saw in the valley below the
church-spire with its tin flag swinging in the wind, he felt that
delight mingled with triumphant vanity and egoistic tenderness
that millionaires must experience when they come back to their
He went rambling round her house. A light was burning in the
kitchen. He watched for her shadow behind the curtains, but
Mere Lefrancois, when she saw him, uttered many exclamations. She
thought he "had grown and was thinner," while Artemise, on the
contrary, thought him stouter and darker.
He dined in the little room as of yore, but alone, without the
tax-gatherer; for Binet, tired of waiting for the "Hirondelle,"
had definitely put forward his meal one hour, and now he dined
punctually at five, and yet he declared usually the rickety old
concern "was late."
Leon, however, made up his mind, and knocked at the doctor's
door. Madame was in her room, and did not come down for a quarter
of an hour. The doctor seemed delighted to see him, but he never
stirred out that evening, nor all the next day.
He saw her alone in the evening, very late, behind the garden in
the lane; in the lane, as she had the other one! It was a stormy
night, and they talked under an umbrella by lightning flashes.
Their separation was becoming intolerable. "I would rather die!"
said Emma. She was writhing in his arms, weeping. "Adieu! adieu!
When shall I see you again?"
They came back again to embrace once more, and it was then that
she promised him to find soon, by no matter what means, a regular
opportunity for seeing one another in freedom at least once a
week. Emma never doubted she should be able to do this. Besides,
she was full of hope. Some money was coming to her.
On the strength of it she bought a pair of yellow curtains with
large stripes for her room, whose cheapness Monsieur Lheureux had
commended; she dreamed of getting a carpet, and Lheureux,
declaring that it wasn't "drinking the sea," politely undertook
to supply her with one. She could no longer do without his
services. Twenty times a day she sent for him, and he at once put
by his business without a murmur. People could not understand
either why Mere Rollet breakfasted with her every day, and even
paid her private visits.
It was about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter,
that she seemed seized with great musical fervour.
One evening when Charles was listening to her, she began the same
piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while he,
not noticing any difference, cried--
"Bravo! very goodl You are wrong to stop. Go on!"
"Oh, no; it is execrable! My fingers are quite rusty."
The next day he begged her to play him something again.
"Very well; to please you!"
And Charles confessed she had gone off a little. She played wrong
notes and blundered; then, stopping short--
"Ah! it is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but--" She bit
her lips and added, "Twenty francs a lesson, that's too dear!"
"Yes, so it is--rather," said Charles, giggling stupidly. "But it
seems to me that one might be able to do it for less; for there
are artists of no reputation, and who are often better than the
"Find them!" said Emma.
The next day when he came home he looked at her shyly, and at
last could no longer keep back the words.
"How obstinate you are sometimes! I went to Barfucheres to-day.
Well, Madame Liegard assured me that her three young ladies who
are at La Misericorde have lessons at fifty sous apiece, and that
from an excellent mistress!"
She shrugged her shoulders and did not open her piano again. But
when she passed by it (if Bovary were there), she sighed--
"Ah! my poor piano!"
And when anyone came to see her, she did not fail to inform them
she had given up music, and could not begin again now for
important reasons. Then people commiserated her--
"What a pity! she had so much talent!"
They even spoke to Bovary about it. They put him to shame, and
especially the chemist.
"You are wrong. One should never let any of the faculties of
nature lie fallow. Besides, just think, my good friend, that by
inducing madame to study; you are economising on the subsequent
musical education of your child. For my own part, I think that
mothers ought themselves to instruct their children. That is an
idea of Rousseau's, still rather new perhaps, but that will end
by triumphing, I am certain of it, like mothers nursing their own
children and vaccination."
So Charles returned once more to this question of the piano. Emma
replied bitterly that it would be better to sell it. This poor
piano, that had given her vanity so much satisfaction--to see it
go was to Bovary like the indefinable suicide of a part of
"If you liked," he said, "a lesson from time to time, that
wouldn't after all be very ruinous."
"But lessons," she replied, "are only of use when followed up."
And thus it was she set about obtaining her husband's permission
to go to town once a week to see her lover. At the end of a month
she was even considered to have made considerable progress.
She went on Thursdays. She got up and dressed silently, in order
not to awaken Charles, who would have made remarks about her
getting ready too early. Next she walked up and down, went to the
windows, and looked out at the Place. The early dawn was
broadening between the pillars of the market, and the chemist's
shop, with the shutters still up, showed in the pale light of the
dawn the large letters of his signboard.
When the clock pointed to a quarter past seven, she went off to
the "Lion d'Or," whose door Artemise opened yawning. The girl
then made up the coals covered by the cinders, and Emma remained
alone in the kitchen. Now and again she went out. Hivert was
leisurely harnessing his horses, listening, moreover, to Mere
Lefrancois, who, passing her head and nightcap through a grating,
was charging him with commissions and giving him explanations
that would have confused anyone else. Emma kept beating the soles
of her boots against the pavement of the yard.
At last, when he had eaten his soup, put on his cloak, lighted
his pipe, and grasped his whip, he calmly installed himself on
The "Hirondelle" started at a slow trot, and for about a mile
stopped here and there to pick up passengers who waited for it,
standing at the border of the road, in front of their yard gates.
Those who had secured seats the evening before kept it waiting;
some even were still in bed in their houses. Hivert called,
shouted, swore; then he got down from his seat and went and
knocked loudly at the doors. The wind blew through the cracked
The four seats, however, filled up. The carriage rolled off; rows
of apple-trees followed one upon another, and the road between
its two long ditches, full of yellow water, rose, constantly
narrowing towards the horizon.
Emma knew it from end to end; she knew that after a meadow there
was a sign-post, next an elm, a barn, or the hut of a lime-kiln
tender. Sometimes even, in the hope of getting some surprise, she
shut her eyes, but she never lost the clear perception of the
distance to be traversed.
At last the brick houses began to follow one another more
closely, the earth resounded beneath the wheels, the "Hirondelle"
glided between the gardens, where through an opening one saw
statues, a periwinkle plant, clipped yews, and a swing. Then on a
sudden the town appeared. Sloping down like an amphitheatre, and
drowned in the fog, it widened out beyond the bridges confusedly.
Then the open country spread away with a monotonous movement till
it touched in the distance the vague line of the pale sky. Seen
thus from above, the whole landscape looked immovable as a
picture; the anchored ships were massed in one corner, the river
curved round the foot of the green hills, and the isles, oblique
in shape, lay on the water, like large, motionless, black fishes.
The factory chimneys belched forth immense brown fumes that were
blown away at the top. One heard the rumbling of the foundries,
together with the clear chimes of the churches that stood out in
the mist. The leafless trees on the boulevards made violet
thickets in the midst of the houses, and the roofs, all shining
with the rain, threw back unequal reflections, according to the
height of the quarters in which they were. Sometimes a gust of
wind drove the clouds towards the Saint Catherine hills, like
aerial waves that broke silently against a cliff.
A giddiness seemed to her to detach itself from this mass of
existence, and her heart swelled as if the hundred and twenty
thousand souls that palpitated there had all at once sent into it
the vapour of the passions she fancied theirs. Her love grew in
the presence of this vastness, and expanded with tumult to the
vague murmurings that rose towards her. She poured it out upon
the square, on the walks, on the streets, and the old Norman city
outspread before her eyes as an enormous capital, as a Babylon
into which she was entering. She leant with both hands against
the window, drinking in the breeze; the three horses galloped,
the stones grated in the mud, the diligence rocked, and Hivert,
from afar, hailed the carts on the road, while the bourgeois who
had spent the night at the Guillaume woods came quietly down the
hill in their little family carriages.
They stopped at the barrier; Emma undid her overshoes, put on
other gloves, rearranged her shawl, and some twenty paces farther
she got down from the "Hirondelle."
The town was then awakening. Shop-boys in caps were cleaning up
the shop-fronts, and women with baskets against their hips, at
intervals uttered sonorous cries at the corners of streets. She
walked with downcast eyes, close to the walls, and smiling with
pleasure under her lowered black veil.
For fear of being seen, she did not usually take the most direct
road. She plunged into dark alleys, and, all perspiring, reached
the bottom of the Rue Nationale, near the fountain that stands
there. It, is the quarter for theatres, public-houses, and
whores. Often a cart would pass near her, bearing some shaking
scenery. Waiters in aprons were sprinkling sand on the flagstones
between green shrubs. It all smelt of absinthe, cigars, and
She turned down a street; she recognised him by his curling hair
that escaped from beneath his hat.
Leon walked along the pavement. She followed him to the hotel. He
went up, opened the door, entered--What an embrace!
Then, after the kisses, the words gushed forth. They told each
other the sorrows of the week, the presentiments, the anxiety for
the letters; but now everything was forgotten; they gazed into
each other's faces with voluptuous laughs, and tender names.
The bed was large, of mahogany, in the shape of a boat. The
curtains were in red levantine, that hung from the ceiling and
bulged out too much towards the bell-shaped bedside; and nothing
in the world was so lovely as her brown head and white skin
standing out against this purple colour, when, with a movement of
shame, she crossed her bare arms, hiding her face in her hands.
The warm room, with its discreet carpet, its gay ornaments, and
its calm light, seemed made for the intimacies of passion. The
curtain-rods, ending in arrows, their brass pegs, and the great
balls of the fire-dogs shone suddenly when the sun came in. On
the chimney between the candelabra there were two of those pink
shells in which one hears the murmur of the sea if one holds them
to the ear.
How they loved that dear room, so full of gaiety, despite its
rather faded splendour! They always found the furniture in the
same place, and sometimes hairpins, that she had forgotten the
Thursday before, under the pedestal of the clock. They lunched by
the fireside on a little round table, inlaid with rosewood. Emma
carved, put bits on his plate with all sorts of coquettish ways,
and she laughed with a sonorous and libertine laugh when the
froth of the champagne ran over from the glass to the rings on
her fingers. They were so completely lost in the possession of
each other that they thought themselves in their own house, and
that they would live there till death, like two spouses eternally
young. They said "our room," "our carpet," she even said "my
slippers," a gift of Leon's, a whim she had had. They were pink
satin, bordered with swansdown. When she sat on his knees, her
leg, then too short, hung in the air, and the dainty shoe, that
had no back to it, was held only by the toes to her bare foot.
He for the first time enjoyed the inexpressible delicacy of
feminine refinements. He had never met this grace of language,
this reserve of clothing, these poses of the weary dove. He
admired the exaltation of her soul and the lace on her petticoat.
Besides, was she not "a lady" and a married woman--a real
mistress, in fine?
By the diversity of her humour, in turn mystical or mirthful,
talkative, taciturn, passionate, careless, she awakened in him a
thousand desires, called up instincts or memories. She was the
mistress of all the novels, the heroine of all the dramas, the
vague "she" of all the volumes of verse. He found again on her
shoulder the amber colouring of the "Odalisque Bathing"; she had
the long waist of feudal chatelaines, and she resembled the "Pale
Woman of Barcelona." But above all she was the Angel!
Often looking at her, it seemed to him that his soul, escaping
towards her, spread like a wave about the outline of her head,
and descended drawn down into the whiteness of her breast. He
knelt on the ground before her, and with both elbows on her knees
looked at her with a smile, his face upturned.
She bent over him, and murmured, as if choking with intoxication--
"Oh, do not move! do not speak! look at me! Something so sweet
comes from your eyes that helps me so much!"
She called him "child." "Child, do you love me?"
And she did not listen for his answer in the haste of her lips
that fastened to his mouth.
On the clock there was a bronze cupid, who smirked as he bent his
arm beneath a golden garland. They had laughed at it many a time,
but when they had to part everything seemed serious to them.
Motionless in front of each other, they kept repeating, "Till
Thursday, till Thursday."
Suddenly she seized his head between her hands, kissed him
hurriedly on the forehead, crying, "Adieu!" and rushed down the
She went to a hairdresser's in the Rue de la Comedie to have her
hair arranged. Night fell; the gas was lighted in the shop. She
heard the bell at the theatre calling the mummers to the
performance, and she saw, passing opposite, men with white faces
and women in faded gowns going in at the stage-door.
It was hot in the room, small, and too low where the stove was
hissing in the midst of wigs and pomades. The smell of the tongs,
together with the greasy hands that handled her head, soon
stunned her, and she dozed a little in her wrapper. Often, as he
did her hair, the man offered her tickets for a masked ball.
Then she went away. She went up the streets; reached the
Croix-Rouge, put on her overshoes, that she had hidden in the
morning under the seat, and sank into her place among the
impatient passengers. Some got out at the foot of the hill. She
remained alone in the carriage. At every turning all the lights
of the town were seen more and more completely, making a great
luminous vapour about the dim houses. Emma knelt on the cushions
and her eyes wandered over the dazzling light. She sobbed; called
on Leon, sent him tender words and kisses lost in the wind.
On the hillside a poor devil wandered about with his stick in the
midst of the diligences. A mass of rags covered his shoulders,
and an old staved-in beaver, turned out like a basin, hid his
face; but when he took it off he discovered in the place of
eyelids empty and bloody orbits. The flesh hung in red shreds,
and there flowed from it liquids that congealed into green scale
down to the nose, whose black nostrils sniffed convulsively. To
speak to you he threw back his head with an idiotic laugh; then
his bluish eyeballs, rolling constantly, at the temples beat
against the edge of the open wound. He sang a little song as he
followed the carriages--
"Maids an the warmth of a summer day
Dream of love, and of love always"
And all the rest was about birds and sunshine and green leaves.
Sometimes he appeared suddenly behind Emma, bareheaded, and she
drew back with a cry. Hivert made fun of him. He would advise him
to get a booth at the Saint Romain fair, or else ask him,
laughing, how his young woman was.
Often they had started when, with a sudden movement, his hat
entered the diligence through the small window, while he clung
with his other arm to the footboard, between the wheels splashing
mud. His voice, feeble at first and quavering, grew sharp; it
resounded in the night like the indistinct moan of a vague
distress; and through the ringing of the bells, the murmur of the
trees, and the rumbling of the empty vehicle, it had a far-off
sound that disturbed Emma. It went to the bottom of her soul,
like a whirlwind in an abyss, and carried her away into the
distances of a boundless melancholy. But Hivert, noticing a
weight behind, gave the blind man sharp cuts with his whip. The
thong lashed his wounds, and he fell back into the mud with a
yell. Then the passengers in the "Hirondelle" ended by falling
asleep, some with open mouths, others with lowered chins, leaning
against their neighbour's shoulder, or with their arm passed
through the strap, oscillating regularly with the jolting of the
carriage; and the reflection of the lantern swinging without, on
the crupper of the wheeler; penetrating into the interior through
the chocolate calico curtains, threw sanguineous shadows over all
these motionless people. Emma, drunk with grief, shivered in her
clothes, feeling her feet grow colder and colder, and death in
Charles at home was waiting for her; the "Hirondelle" was always
late on Thursdays. Madame arrived at last, and scarcely kissed
the child. The dinner was not ready. No matter! She excused the
servant. This girl now seemed allowed to do just as she liked.
Often her husband, noting her pallor, asked if she were unwell.
"No," said Emma.
"But," he replied, "you seem so strange this evening."
"Oh, it's nothing! nothing!"
There were even days when she had no sooner come in than she went
up to her room; and Justin, happening to be there, moved about
noiselessly, quicker at helping her than the best of maids. He
put the matches ready, the candlestick, a book, arranged her
nightgown, turned back the bedclothes.
"Come!" said she, "that will do. Now you can go."
For he stood there, his hands hanging down and his eyes wide
open, as if enmeshed in the innumerable threads of a sudden
The following day was frightful, and those that came after still
more unbearable, because of her impatience to once again seize
her happiness; an ardent lust, inflamed by the images of past
experience, and that burst forth freely on the seventh day
beneath Leon's caresses. His ardours were hidden beneath
outbursts of wonder and gratitude. Emma tasted this love in a
discreet, absorbed fashion, maintained it by all the artifices of
her tenderness, and trembled a little lest it should be lost
She often said to him, with her sweet, melancholy voice--
"Ah! you too, you will leave me! You will marry! You will be like
all the others."
He asked, "What others?"
"Why, like all men," she replied. Then added, repulsing him with
a languid movement--
"You are all evil!"
One day, as they were talking philosophically of earthly
disillusions, to experiment on his jealousy, or yielding,
perhaps, to an over-strong need to pour out her heart, she told
him that formerly, before him, she had loved someone.
"Not like you," she went on quickly, protesting by the head of
her child that "nothing had passed between them."
The young man believed her, but none the less questioned her to
find out what he was.
"He was a ship's captain, my dear."
Was this not preventing any inquiry, and, at the same time,
assuming a higher ground through this pretended fascination
exercised over a man who must have been of warlike nature and
accustomed to receive homage?
The clerk then felt the lowliness of his position; he longed for
epaulettes, crosses, titles. All that would please her--he
gathered that from her spendthrift habits.
Emma nevertheless concealed many of these extravagant fancies,
such as her wish to have a blue tilbury to drive into Rouen,
drawn by an English horse and driven by a groom in top-boots. It
was Justin who had inspired her with this whim, by begging her to
take him into her service as valet-de-chambre*, and if the
privation of it did not lessen the pleasure of her arrival at
each rendezvous, it certainly augmented the bitterness of the
Often, when they talked together of Paris, she ended by
murmuring, "Ah! how happy we should be there!"
"Are we not happy?" gently answered the young man passing his
hands over her hair.
"Yes, that is true," she said. "I am mad. Kiss me!"
To her husband she was more charming than ever. She made him
pistachio-creams, and played him waltzes after dinner. So he
thought himself the most fortunate of men and Emma was without
uneasiness, when, one evening suddenly he said--
"It is Mademoiselle Lempereur, isn't it, who gives you lessons?"
"Well, I saw her just now," Charles went on, "at Madame
Liegeard's. I spoke to her about you, and she doesn't know you."
This was like a thunderclap. However, she replied quite
"Ah! no doubt she forgot my name."
"But perhaps," said the doctor, "there are several Demoiselles
Lempereur at Rouen who are music-mistresses."
"Possibly!" Then quickly--"But I have my receipts here. See!"
And she went to the writing-table, ransacked all the drawers,
rummaged the papers, and at last lost her head so completely that
Charles earnestly begged her not to take so much trouble about
those wretched receipts.
"Oh, I will find them," she said.
And, in fact, on the following Friday, as Charles was putting on
one of his boots in the dark cabinet where his clothes were kept,
he felt a piece of paper between the leather and his sock. He
took it out and read--
"Received, for three months' lessons and several pieces of music,
the sum of sixty-three francs.--Felicie Lempereur, professor of
"How the devil did it get into my boots?"
"It must," she replied, "have fallen from the old box of bills
that is on the edge of the shelf."
From that moment her existence was but one long tissue of lies,
in which she enveloped her love as in veils to hide it. It was a
want, a mania, a pleasure carried to such an extent that if she
said she had the day before walked on the right side of a road,
one might know she had taken the left.
One morning, when she had gone, as usual, rather lightly clothed,
it suddenly began to snow, and as Charles was watching the
weather from the window, he caught sight of Monsieur Bournisien
in the chaise of Monsieur Tuvache, who was driving him to Rouen.
Then he went down to give the priest a thick shawl that he was to
hand over to Emma as soon as he reached the "Croix-Rouge." When
he got to the inn, Monsieur Bournisien asked for the wife of the
Yonville doctor. The landlady replied that she very rarely came
to her establishment. So that evening, when he recognised Madame
Bovary in the "Hirondelle," the cure told her his dilemma,
without, however, appearing to attach much importance to it, for
he began praising a preacher who was doing wonders at the
Cathedral, and whom all the ladies were rushing to hear.
Still, if he did not ask for any explanation, others, later on,
might prove less discreet. So she thought well to get down each
time at the "Croix-Rouge," so that the good folk of her village
who saw her on the stairs should suspect nothing.
One day, however, Monsieur Lheureux met her coming out of the
Hotel de Boulogne on Leon's arm; and she was frightened, thinking
he would gossip. He was not such a fool. But three days after he
came to her room, shut the door, and said, "I must have some
She declared she could not give him any. Lheureux burst into
lamentations and reminded her of all the kindnesses he had shown
In fact, of the two bills signed by Charles, Emma up to the
present had paid only one. As to the second, the shopkeeper, at
her request, had consented to replace it by another, which again
had been renewed for a long date. Then he drew from his pocket a
list of goods not paid for; to wit, the curtains, the carpet, the
material for the armchairs, several dresses, and divers articles
of dress, the bills for which amounted to about two thousand
She bowed her head. He went on--
"But if you haven't any ready money, you have an estate." And he
reminded her of a miserable little hovel situated at Barneville,
near Aumale, that brought in almost nothing. It had formerly been
part of a small farm sold by Monsieur Bovary senior; for Lheureux
knew everything, even to the number of acres and the names of the
"If I were in your place," he said, "I should clear myself of my
debts, and have money left over."
She pointed out the difficulty of getting a purchaser. He held
out the hope of finding one; but she asked him how she should
manage to sell it.
"Haven't you your power of attorney?" he replied.
The phrase came to her like a breath of fresh air. "Leave me the
bill," said Emma.
"Oh, it isn't worth while," answered Lheureux.
He came back the following week and boasted of having, after much
trouble, at last discovered a certain Langlois, who, for a long
time, had had an eye on the property, but without mentioning his
"Never mind the price!" she cried.
But they would, on the contrary, have to wait, to sound the
fellow. The thing was worth a journey, and, as she could not
undertake it, he offered to go to the place to have an interview
with Langlois. On his return he announced that the purchaser
proposed four thousand francs.
Emma was radiant at this news.
"Frankly," he added, "that's a good price."
She drew half the sum at once, and when she was about to pay her
account the shopkeeper said--
"It really grieves me, on my word! to see you depriving yourself
all at once of such a big sum as that."
Then she looked at the bank-notes, and dreaming of the unlimited
number of rendezvous represented by those two thousand francs,
"Oh!" he went on, laughing good-naturedly, "one puts anything one
likes on receipts. Don't you think I know what household affairs
are?" And he looked at her fixedly, while in his hand he held two
long papers that he slid between his nails. At last, opening his
pocket-book, he spread out on the table four bills to order, each
for a thousand francs.
"Sign these," he said, "and keep it all!"
She cried out, scandalised.
"But if I give you the surplus," replied Monsieur Lheureux
impudently, "is that not helping you?"
And taking a pen he wrote at the bottom of the account, "Received
of Madame Bovary four thousand francs."
"Now who can trouble you, since in six months you'll draw the
arrears for your cottage, and I don't make the last bill due till
after you've been paid?"
Emma grew rather confused in her calculations, and her ears
tingled as if gold pieces, bursting from their bags, rang all
round her on the floor. At last Lheureux explained that he had a
very good friend, Vincart, a broker at Rouen, who would discount
these four bills. Then he himself would hand over to madame the
remainder after the actual debt was paid.
But instead of two thousand francs he brought only eighteen
hundred, for the friend Vincart (which was only fair) had
deducted two hundred francs for commission and discount. Then he
carelessly asked for a receipt.
"You understand--in business--sometimes. And with the date, if
you please, with the date."
A horizon of realisable whims opened out before Emma. She was
prudent enough to lay by a thousand crowns, with which the first
three bills were paid when they fell due; but the fourth, by
chance, came to the house on a Thursday, and Charles, quite
upset, patiently awaited his wife's return for an explanation.
If she had not told him about this bill, it was only to spare him
such domestic worries; she sat on his knees, caressed him, cooed
to him, gave him a long enumeration of all the indispensable
things that had been got on credit.
"Really, you must confess, considering the quantity, it isn't too
Charles, at his wit's end, soon had recourse to the eternal
Lheureux, who swore he would arrange matters if the doctor would
sign him two bills, one of which was for seven hundred francs,
payable in three months. In order to arrange for this he wrote
his mother a pathetic letter. Instead of sending a reply she came
herself; and when Emma wanted to know whether he had got anything
out of her, "Yes," he replied; "but she wants to see the
account." The next morning at daybreak Emma ran to Lheureux to
beg him to make out another account for not more than a thousand
francs, for to show the one for four thousand it would be
necessary to say that she had paid two-thirds, and confess,
consequently, the sale of the estate--a negotiation admirably
carried out by the shopkeeper, and which, in fact, was only
actually known later on.
Despite the low price of each article, Madame Bovary senior, of
course, thought the expenditure extravagant.
"Couldn't you do without a carpet? Why have recovered the
arm-chairs? In my time there was a single arm-chair in a house,
for elderly persons--at any rate it was so at my mother's, who
was a good woman, I can tell you. Everybody can't be rich! No
fortune can hold out against waste! I should be ashamed to coddle
myself as you do! And yet I am old. I need looking after. And
there! there! fitting up gowns! fallals! What! silk for lining at
two francs, when you can get jaconet for ten sous, or even for
eight, that would do well enough!"
Emma, lying on a lounge, replied as quietly as possible--"Ah!
Madame, enough! enough!"
The other went on lecturing her, predicting they would end in the
workhouse. But it was Bovary's fault. Luckily he had promised to
destroy that power of attorney.
"Ah! he swore he would," went on the good woman.
Emma opened the window, called Charles, and the poor fellow was
obliged to confess the promise torn from him by his mother.
Emma disappeared, then came back quickly, and majestically handed
her a thick piece of paper.
"Thank you," said the old woman. And she threw the power of
attorney into the fire.
Emma began to laugh, a strident, piercing, continuous laugh; she
had an attack of hysterics.
"Oh, my God!" cried Charles. "Ah! you really are wrong! You come
here and make scenes with her!"
His mother, shrugging her shoulders, declared it was "all put
But Charles, rebelling for the first time, took his wife's part,
so that Madame Bovary, senior, said she would leave. She went the
very next day, and on the threshold, as he was trying to detain
her, she replied--
"No, no! You love her better than me, and you are right. It is
natural. For the rest, so much the worse! You will see. Good
day--for I am not likely to come soon again, as you say, to make
Charles nevertheless was very crestfallen before Emma, who did
not hide the resentment she still felt at his want of confidence,
and it needed many prayers before she would consent to have
another power of attorney. He even accompanied her to Monsieur
Guillaumin to have a second one, just like the other, drawn up.
"I understand," said the notary; "a man of science can't be
worried with the practical details of life."
And Charles felt relieved by this comfortable reflection, which
gave his weakness the flattering appearance of higher
And what an outburst the next Thursday at the hotel in their room
with Leon! She laughed, cried, sang, sent for sherbets, wanted to
smoke cigarettes, seemed to him wild and extravagant, but
He did not know what recreation of her whole being drove her more
and more to plunge into the pleasures of life. She was becoming
irritable, greedy, voluptuous; and she walked about the streets
with him carrying her head high, without fear, so she said, of
compromising herself. At times, however, Emma shuddered at the
sudden thought of meeting Rodolphe, for it seemed to her that,
although they were separated forever, she was not completely free
from her subjugation to him.
One night she did not return to Yonville at all. Charles lost his
head with anxiety, and little Berthe would not go to bed without
her mamma, and sobbed enough to break her heart. Justin had gone
out searching the road at random. Monsieur Homais even had left
At last, at eleven o'clock, able to bear it no longer, Charles
harnessed his chaise, jumped in, whipped up his horse, and
reached the "Croix-Rouge" about two o'clock in the morning. No
one there! He thought that the clerk had perhaps seen her; but
where did he live? Happily, Charles remembered his employer's
address, and rushed off there.
Day was breaking, and he could distinguish the escutcheons over
the door, and knocked. Someone, without opening the door, shouted
out the required information, adding a few insults to those who
disturb people in the middle of the night.
The house inhabited by the clerk had neither bell, knocker, nor
porter. Charles knocked loudly at the shutters with his hands. A
policeman happened to pass by. Then he was frightened, and went
"I am mad," he said; "no doubt they kept her to dinner at
Monsieur Lormeaux'." But the Lormeaux no longer lived at Rouen.
"She probably stayed to look after Madame Dubreuil. Why, Madame
Dubreuil has been dead these ten months! Where can she be?"
An idea occurred to him. At a cafe he asked for a Directory, and
hurriedly looked for the name of Mademoiselle Lempereur, who
lived at No. 74 Rue de la Renelle-des-Maroquiniers.
As he was turning into the street, Emma herself appeared at the
other end of it. He threw himself upon her rather than embraced
"What kept you yesterday?"
"I was not well."
"What was it? Where? How?"
She passed her hand over her forehead and answered, "At
"I was sure of it! I was going there."
"Oh, it isn't worth while," said Emma. "She went out just now;
but for the future don't worry. I do not feel free, you see, if I
know that the least delay upsets you like this."
This was a sort of permission that she gave herself, so as to get
perfect freedom in her escapades. And she profited by it freely,
fully. When she was seized with the desire to see Leon, she set
out upon any pretext; and as he was not expecting her on that
day, she went to fetch him at his office.
It was a great delight at first, but soon he no longer concealed
the truth, which was, that his master complained very much about
"Pshaw! come along," she said.
And he slipped out.
She wanted him to dress all in black, and grow a pointed beard,
to look like the portraits of Louis XIII. She wanted to see his
lodgings; thought them poor. He blushed at them, but she did not
notice this, then advised him to buy some curtains like hers, and
as he objected to the expense--
"Ah! ah! you care for your money," she said laughing.
Each time Leon had to tell her everything that he had done since
their last meeting. She asked him for some verses--some verses
"for herself," a "love poem" in honour of her. But he never
succeeded in getting a rhyme for the second verse; and at last
ended by copying a sonnet in a "Keepsake." This was less from
vanity than from the one desire of pleasing her. He did not
question her ideas; he accepted all her tastes; he was rather
becoming her mistress than she his. She had tender words and
kisses that thrilled his soul. Where could she have learnt this
corruption almost incorporeal in the strength of its profanity
During the journeys he made to see her, Leon had often dined at
the chemist's, and he felt obliged from politeness to invite him
"With pleasure!" Monsieur Homais replied; "besides, I must
invigorate my mind, for I am getting rusty here. We'll go to the
theatre, to the restaurant; we'll make a night of it."
"Oh, my dear!" tenderly murmured Madame Homais, alarmed at the
vague perils he was preparing to brave.
"Well, what? Do you think I'm not sufficiently ruining my health
living here amid the continual emanations of the pharmacy? But
there! that is the way with women! They are jealous of science,
and then are opposed to our taking the most legitimate
distractions. No matter! Count upon me. One of these days I shall
turn up at Rouen, and we'll go the pace together."
The druggist would formerly have taken good care not to use such
an expression, but he was cultivating a gay Parisian style, which
he thought in the best taste; and, like his neighbour, Madame
Bovary, he questioned the clerk curiously about the customs of
the capital; he even talked slang to dazzle the bourgeois, saying
bender, crummy, dandy, macaroni, the cheese, cut my stick and
"I'll hook it," for "I am going."
So one Thursday Emma was surprised to meet Monsieur Homais in the
kitchen of the "Lion d'Or," wearing a traveller's costume, that
is to say, wrapped in an old cloak which no one knew he had,
while he carried a valise in one hand and the foot-warmer of his
establishment in the other. He had confided his intentions to no
one, for fear of causing the public anxiety by his absence.
The idea of seeing again the place where his youth had been spent
no doubt excited him, for during the whole journey he never
ceased talking, and as soon as he had arrived, he jumped quickly
out of the diligence to go in search of Leon. In vain the clerk
tried to get rid of him. Monsieur Homais dragged him off to the
large Cafe de la Normandie, which he entered majestically, not
raising his hat, thinking it very provincial to uncover in any
Emma waited for Leon three quarters of an hour. At last she ran
to his office; and, lost in all sorts of conjectures, accusing
him of indifference, and reproaching herself for her weakness,
she spent the afternoon, her face pressed against the
At two o'clock they were still at a table opposite each other.
The large room was emptying; the stove-pipe, in the shape of a
palm-tree, spread its gilt leaves over the white ceiling, and
near them, outside the window, in the bright sunshine, a little
fountain gurgled in a white basin, where; in the midst of
watercress and asparagus, three torpid lobsters stretched across
to some quails that lay heaped up in a pile on their sides.
Homais was enjoying himself. Although he was even more
intoxicated with the luxury than the rich fare, the Pommard wine
all the same rather excited his faculties; and when the omelette
au rhum* appeared, he began propounding immoral theories about
women. What seduced him above all else was chic. He admired an
elegant toilette in a well-furnished apartment, and as to bodily
qualities, he didn't dislike a young girl.
* In rum.
Leon watched the clock in despair. The druggist went on drinking,
eating, and talking.
"You must be very lonely," he said suddenly, "here at Rouen. To
be sure your lady-love doesn't live far away."
And the other blushed--
"Come now, be frank. Can you deny that at Yonville--"
The young man stammered something.
"At Madame Bovary's, you're not making love to--"
He was not joking; but vanity getting the better of all prudence,
Leon, in spite of himself protested. Besides, he only liked dark
"I approve of that," said the chemist; "they have more passion."
And whispering into his friend's ear, he pointed out the symptoms
by which one could find out if a woman had passion. He even
launched into an ethnographic digression: the German was
vapourish, the French woman licentious, the Italian passionate.
"And negresses?" asked the clerk.
"They are an artistic taste!" said Homais. "Waiter! two cups of
"Are we going?" at last asked Leon impatiently.
But before leaving he wanted to see the proprietor of the
establishment and made him a few compliments. Then the young man,
to be alone, alleged he had some business engagement.
"Ah! I will escort you," said Homais.
And all the while he was walking through the streets with him he
talked of his wife, his children; of their future, and of his
business; told him in what a decayed condition it had formerly
been, and to what a degree of perfection he had raised it.
Arrived in front of the Hotel de Boulogne, Leon left him
abruptly, ran up the stairs, and found his mistress in great
excitement. At mention of the chemist she flew into a passion.
He, however, piled up good reasons; it wasn't his fault; didn't
she know Homais--did she believe that he would prefer his
company? But she turned away; he drew her back, and, sinking on
his knees, clasped her waist with his arms in a languorous pose,
full of concupiscence and supplication.
She was standing up, her large flashing eyes looked at him
seriously, almost terribly. Then tears obscured them, her red
eyelids were lowered, she gave him her hands, and Leon was
pressing them to his lips when a servant appeared to tell the
gentleman that he was wanted.
"You will come back?" she said.
"It's a trick," said the chemist, when he saw Leon. "I wanted to
interrupt this visit, that seemed to me to annoy you. Let's go
and have a glass of garus at Bridoux'."
Leon vowed that he must get back to his office. Then the druggist
joked him about quill-drivers and the law.
"Leave Cujas and Barthole alone a bit. Who the devil prevents
you? Be a man! Let's go to Bridoux'. You'll see his dog. It's
And as the clerk still insisted--
"I'll go with you. I'll read a paper while I wait for you, or
turn over the leaves of a 'Code.'"
Leon, bewildered by Emma's anger, Monsieur Homais' chatter, and,
perhaps, by the heaviness of the luncheon, was undecided, and, as
it were, fascinated by the chemist, who kept repeating--
"Let's go to Bridoux'. It's just by here, in the Rue Malpalu."
Then, through cowardice, through stupidity, through that
indefinable feeling that drags us into the most distasteful acts,
he allowed himself to be led off to Bridoux', whom they found in
his small yard, superintending three workmen, who panted as they
turned the large wheel of a machine for making seltzer-water.
Homais gave them some good advice. He embraced Bridoux; they took
some garus. Twenty times Leon tried to escape, but the other
seized him by the arm saying--
"Presently! I'm coming! We'll go to the 'Fanal de Rouen' to see
the fellows there. I'll introduce you to Thornassin."
At last he managed to get rid of him, and rushed straight to the
hotel. Emma was no longer there. She had just gone in a fit of
anger. She detested him now. This failing to keep their
rendezvous seemed to her an insult, and she tried to rake up
other reasons to separate herself from him. He was incapable of
heroism, weak, banal, more spiritless than a woman, avaricious
too, and cowardly.
Then, growing calmer, she at length discovered that she had, no
doubt, calumniated him. But the disparaging of those we love
always alienates us from them to some extent. We must not touch
our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.
They gradually came to talking more frequently of matters outside
their love, and in the letters that Emma wrote him she spoke of
flowers, verses, the moon and the stars, naive resources of a
waning passion striving to keep itself alive by all external
aids. She was constantly promising herself a profound felicity on
her next journey. Then she confessed to herself that she felt
nothing extraordinary. This disappointment quickly gave way to a
new hope, and Emma returned to him more inflamed, more eager than
ever. She undressed brutally, tearing off the thin laces of her
corset that nestled around her hips like a gliding snake. She
went on tiptoe, barefooted, to see once more that the door was
closed, then, pale, serious, and, without speaking, with one
movement, she threw herself upon his breast with a long shudder.
Yet there was upon that brow covered with cold drops, on those
quivering lips, in those wild eyes, in the strain of those arms,
something vague and dreary that seemed to Leon to glide between
them subtly as if to separate them.
He did not dare to question her; but, seeing her so skilled, she
must have passed, he thought, through every experience of
suffering and of pleasure. What had once charmed now frightened
him a little. Besides, he rebelled against his absorption, daily
more marked, by her personality. He begrudged Emma this constant
victory. He even strove not to love her; then, when he heard the
creaking of her boots, he turned coward, like drunkards at the
sight of strong drinks.
She did not fail, in truth, to lavish all sorts of attentions
upon him, from the delicacies of food to the coquettries of dress
and languishing looks. She brought roses to her breast from
Yonville, which she threw into his face; was anxious about his
health, gave him advice as to his conduct; and, in order the more
surely to keep her hold on him, hoping perhaps that heaven would
take her part, she tied a medal of the Virgin round his neck. She
inquired like a virtuous mother about his companions. She said to
"Don't see them; don't go out; think only of ourselves; love me!"
She would have liked to be able to watch over his life; and the
idea occurred to her of having him followed in the streets. Near
the hotel there was always a kind of loafer who accosted
travellers, and who would not refuse. But her pride revolted at
"Bah! so much the worse. Let him deceive me! What does it matter
to me? As If I cared for him!"
One day, when they had parted early and she was returning alone
along the boulevard, she saw the walls of her convent; then she
sat down on a form in the shade of the elm-trees. How calm that
time had been! How she longed for the ineffable sentiments of
love that she had tried to figure to herself out of books! The
first month of her marriage, her rides in the wood, the viscount
that waltzed, and Lagardy singing, all repassed before her eyes.
And Leon suddenly appeared to her as far off as the others.
"Yet I love him," she said to herself.
No matter! She was not happy--she never had been. Whence came
this insufficiency in life--this instantaneous turning to decay
of everything on which she leant? But if there were somewhere a
being strong and beautiful, a valiant nature, full at once of
exaltation and refinement, a poet's heart in an angel's form, a
lyre with sounding chords ringing out elegiac epithalamia to
heaven, why, perchance, should she not find him? Ah! how
impossible! Besides, nothing was worth the trouble of seeking it;
everything was a lie. Every smile hid a yawn of boredom, every
joy a curse, all pleasure satiety, and the sweetest kisses left
upon your lips only the unattainable desire for a greater
A metallic clang droned through the air, and four strokes were
heard from the convent-clock. Four o'clock! And it seemed to her
that she had been there on that form an eternity. But an infinity
of passions may be contained in a minute, like a crowd in a small
Emma lived all absorbed in hers, and troubled no more about money
matters than an archduchess.
Once, however, a wretched-looking man, rubicund and bald, came to
her house, saying he had been sent by Monsieur Vincart of Rouen.
He took out the pins that held together the side-pockets of his
long green overcoat, stuck them into his sleeve, and politely
handed her a paper.
It was a bill for seven hundred francs, signed by her, and which
Lheureux, in spite of all his professions, had paid away to
Vincart. She sent her servant for him. He could not come. Then
the stranger, who had remained standing, casting right and left
curious glances, that his thick, fair eyebrows hid, asked with a
"What answer am I to take Monsieur Vincart?"
"Oh," said Emma, "tell him that I haven't it. I will send next
week; he must wait; yes, till next week."
And the fellow went without another word.
But the next day at twelve o'clock she received a summons, and
the sight of the stamped paper, on which appeared several times
in large letters, "Maitre Hareng, bailiff at Buchy," so
frightened her that she rushed in hot haste to the linendraper's.
She found him in his shop, doing up a parcel.
"Your obedient!" he said; "I am at your service."
But Lheureux, all the same, went on with his work, helped by a
young girl of about thirteen, somewhat hunch-backed, who was at
once his clerk and his servant.
Then, his clogs clattering on the shop-boards, he went up in
front of Madame Bovary to the first door, and introduced her into
a narrow closet, where, in a large bureau in sapon-wood, lay some
ledgers, protected by a horizontal padlocked iron bar. Against
the wall, under some remnants of calico, one glimpsed a safe, but
of such dimensions that it must contain something besides bills
and money. Monsieur Lheureux, in fact, went in for pawnbroking,
and it was there that he had put Madame Bovary's gold chain,
together with the earrings of poor old Tellier, who, at last
forced to sell out, had bought a meagre store of grocery at
Quincampoix, where he was dying of catarrh amongst his candles,
that were less yellow than his face.
Lheureux sat down in a large cane arm-chair, saying: "What news?"
And she showed him the paper.
"Well how can I help it?"
Then she grew angry, reminding him of the promise he had given
not to pay away her bills. He acknowledged it.
"But I was pressed myself; the knife was at my own throat."
"And what will happen now?" she went on.
"Oh, it's very simple; a judgment and then a distraint--that's
Emma kept down a desire to strike him, and asked gently if there
was no way of quieting Monsieur Vincart.
"I dare say! Quiet Vincart! You don't know him; he's more
ferocious than an Arab!"
Still Monsieur Lheureux must interfere.
"Well, listen. It seems to me so far I've been very good to you."
And opening one of his ledgers, "See," he said. Then running up
the page with his finger, "Let's see! let's see! August 3d, two
hundred francs; June 17th, a hundred and fifty; March 23d,
forty-six. In April--"
He stopped, as if afraid of making some mistake.
"Not to speak of the bills signed by Monsieur Bovary, one for
seven hundred francs, and another for three hundred. As to your
little installments, with the interest, why, there's no end to
'em; one gets quite muddled over 'em. I'll have nothing more to
do with it."
She wept; she even called him "her good Monsieur Lheureux." But
he always fell back upon "that rascal Vincart." Besides, he
hadn't a brass farthing; no one was paying him now-a-days; they
were eating his coat off his back; a poor shopkeeper like him
couldn't advance money.
Emma was silent, and Monsieur Lheureux, who was biting the
feathers of a quill, no doubt became uneasy at her silence, for
he went on--
"Unless one of these days I have something coming in, I might--"
"Besides," said she, "as soon as the balance of Barneville--"
And on hearing that Langlois had not yet paid he seemed much
surprised. Then in a honied voice--
"And we agree, you say?"
"Oh! to anything you like."
On this he closed his eyes to reflect, wrote down a few figures,
and declaring it would be very difficult for him, that the affair
was shady, and that he was being bled, he wrote out four bills
for two hundred and fifty francs each, to fall due month by
"Provided that Vincart will listen to me! However, it's settled.
I don't play the fool; I'm straight enough."
Next he carelessly showed her several new goods, not one of
which, however, was in his opinion worthy of madame.
"When I think that there's a dress at threepence-halfpenny a
yard, and warranted fast colours! And yet they actually swallow
it! Of course you understand one doesn't tell them what it really
is!" He hoped by this confession of dishonesty to others to quite
convince her of his probity to her.
Then he called her back to show her three yards of guipure that
he had lately picked up "at a sale."
"Isn't it lovely?" said Lheureux. "It is very much used now for
the backs of arm-chairs. It's quite the rage."
And, more ready than a juggler, he wrapped up the guipure in some
blue paper and put it in Emma's hands.
"But at least let me know--"
"Yes, another time," he replied, turning on his heel.
That same evening she urged Bovary to write to his mother, to ask
her to send as quickly as possible the whole of the balance due
from the father's estate. The mother-in-law replied that she had
nothing more, the winding up was over, and there was due to them
besides Barneville an income of six hundred francs, that she
would pay them punctually.
Then Madame Bovary sent in accounts to two or three patients, and
she made large use of this method, which was very successful. She
was always careful to add a postscript: "Do not mention this to
my husband; you know how proud he is. Excuse me. Yours
obediently." There were some complaints; she intercepted them.
To get money she began selling her old gloves, her old hats, the
old odds and ends, and she bargained rapaciously, her peasant
blood standing her in good stead. Then on her journey to town she
picked up nick-nacks secondhand, that, in default of anyone else,
Monsieur Lheureux would certainly take off her hands. She bought
ostrich feathers, Chinese porcelain, and trunks; she borrowed
from Felicite, from Madame Lefrancois, from the landlady at the
Croix-Rouge, from everybody, no matter where.
With the money she at last received from Barneville she paid two
bills; the other fifteen hundred francs fell due. She renewed the
bills, and thus it was continually.
Sometimes, it is true, she tried to make a calculation, but she
discovered things so exorbitant that she could not believe them
possible. Then she recommenced, soon got confused, gave it all
up, and thought no more about it.
The house was very dreary now. Tradesmen were seen leaving it
with angry faces. Handkerchiefs were lying about on the stoves,
and little Berthe, to the great scandal of Madame Homais, wore
stockings with holes in them. If Charles timidly ventured a
remark, she answered roughly that it wasn't her fault.
What was the meaning of all these fits of temper? He explained
everything through her old nervous illness, and reproaching
himself with having taken her infirmities for faults, accused
himself of egotism, and longed to go and take her in his arms.
"Ah, no!" he said to himself; "I should worry her."
And he did not stir.
After dinner he walked about alone in the garden; he took little
Berthe on his knees, and unfolding his medical journal, tried to
teach her to read. But the child, who never had any lessons, soon
looked up with large, sad eyes and began to cry. Then he
comforted her; went to fetch water in her can to make rivers on
the sand path, or broke off branches from the privet hedges to
plant trees in the beds. This did not spoil the garden much, all
choked now with long weeds. They owed Lestiboudois for so many
days. Then the child grew cold and asked for her mother.
"Call the servant," said Charles. "You know, dearie, that mamma
does not like to be disturbed."
Autumn was setting in, and the leaves were already falling, as
they did two years ago when she was ill. Where would it all end?
And he walked up and down, his hands behind his back.
Madame was in her room, which no one entered. She stayed there
all day long, torpid, half dressed, and from time to time burning
Turkish pastilles which she had bought at Rouen in an Algerian's
shop. In order not to have at night this sleeping man stretched
at her side, by dint of manoeuvring, she at last succeeded in
banishing him to the second floor, while she read till morning
extravagant books, full of pictures of orgies and thrilling
situations. Often, seized with fear, she cried out, and Charles
hurried to her.
"Oh, go away!" she would say.
Or at other times, consumed more ardently than ever by that inner
flame to which adultery added fuel, panting, tremulous, all
desire, she threw open her window, breathed in the cold air,
shook loose in the wind her masses of hair, too heavy, and,
gazing upon the stars, longed for some princely love. She thought
of him, of Leon. She would then have given anything for a single
one of those meetings that surfeited her.
These were her gala days. She wanted them to be sumptuous, and
when he alone could not pay the expenses, she made up the deficit
liberally, which happened pretty well every time. He tried to
make her understand that they would be quite as comfortable
somewhere else, in a smaller hotel, but she always found some
One day she drew six small silver-gilt spoons from her bag (they
were old Roualt's wedding present), begging him to pawn them at
once for her, and Leon obeyed, though the proceeding annoyed him.
He was afraid of compromising himself.
Then, on, reflection, he began to think his mistress's ways were
growing odd, and that they were perhaps not wrong in wishing to
separate him from her.
In fact someone had sent his mother a long anonymous letter to
warn her that he was "ruining himself with a married woman," and
the good lady at once conjuring up the eternal bugbear of
families, the vague pernicious creature, the siren, the monster,
who dwells fantastically in depths of love, wrote to Lawyer
Dubocage, his employer, who behaved perfectly in the affair. He
kept him for three quarters of an hour trying to open his eyes,
to warn him of the abyss into which he was falling. Such an
intrigue would damage him later on, when he set up for himself.
He implored him to break with her, and, if he would not make this
sacrifice in his own interest, to do it at least for his,
At last Leon swore he would not see Emma again, and he reproached
himself with not having kept his word, considering all the worry
and lectures this woman might still draw down upon him, without
reckoning the jokes made by his companions as they sat round the
stove in the morning. Besides, he was soon to be head clerk; it
was time to settle down. So he gave up his flute, exalted
sentiments, and poetry; for every bourgeois in the flush of his
youth, were it but for a day, a moment, has believed himself
capable of immense passions, of lofty enterprises. The most
mediocre libertine has dreamed of sultanas; every notary bears
within him the debris of a poet.
He was bored now when Emma suddenly began to sob on his breast,
and his heart, like the people who can only stand a certain
amount of music, dozed to the sound of a love whose delicacies he
no longer noted.
They knew one another too well for any of those surprises of
possession that increase its joys a hundred-fold. She was as sick
of him as he was weary of her. Emma found again in adultery all
the platitudes of marriage.
But how to get rid of him? Then, though she might feel humiliated
at the baseness of such enjoyment, she clung to it from habit or
from corruption, and each day she hungered after them the more,
exhausting all felicity in wishing for too much of it. She
accused Leon of her baffled hopes, as if he had betrayed her; and
she even longed for some catastrophe that would bring about their
separation, since she had not the courage to make up her mind to
She none the less went on writing him love letters, in virtue of
the notion that a woman must write to her lover.
But whilst she wrote it was another man she saw, a phantom
fashioned out of her most ardent memories, of her finest reading,
her strongest lusts, and at last he became so real, so tangible,
that she palpitated wondering, without, however, the power to
imagine him clearly, so lost was he, like a god, beneath the
abundance of his attributes. He dwelt in that azure land where
silk ladders hang from balconies under the breath of flowers, in
the light of the moon. She felt him near her; he was coming, and
would carry her right away in a kiss.
Then she fell back exhausted, for these transports of vague love
wearied her more than great debauchery.
She now felt constant ache all over her. Often she even received
summonses, stamped paper that she barely looked at. She would
have liked not to be alive, or to be always asleep.
On Mid-Lent she did not return to Yonville, but in the evening
went to a masked ball. She wore velvet breeches, red stockings, a
club wig, and three-cornered hat cocked on one side. She danced
all night to the wild tones of the trombones; people gathered
round her, and in the morning she found herself on the steps of
the theatre together with five or six masks, debardeuses* and
sailors, Leon's comrades, who were talking about having supper.
* People dressed as longshoremen.
The neighbouring cafes were full. They caught sight of one on the
harbour, a very indifferent restaurant, whose proprietor showed
them to a little room on the fourth floor.
The men were whispering in a corner, no doubt consorting about
expenses. There were a clerk, two medical students, and a
shopman--what company for her! As to the women, Emma soon
perceived from the tone of their voices that they must almost
belong to the lowest class. Then she was frightened, pushed back
her chair, and cast down her eyes.
The others began to eat; she ate nothing. Her head was on fire,
her eyes smarted, and her skin was ice-cold. In her head she
seemed to feel the floor of the ball-room rebounding again
beneath the rhythmical pulsation of the thousands of dancing
feet. And now the smell of the punch, the smoke of the cigars,
made her giddy. She fainted, and they carried her to the window.
Day was breaking, and a great stain of purple colour broadened
out in the pale horizon over the St. Catherine hills. The livid
river was shivering in the wind; there was no one on the bridges;
the street lamps were going out.
She revived, and began thinking of Berthe asleep yonder in the
servant's room. Then a cart filled with long strips of iron
passed by, and made a deafening metallic vibration against the
walls of the houses.
She slipped away suddenly, threw off her costume, told Leon she
must get back, and at last was alone at the Hotel de Boulogne.
Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished
that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away
to regions of purity, and there grow young again.
She went out, crossed the Boulevard, the Place Cauchoise, and the
Faubourg, as far as an open street that overlooked some gardens.
She walked rapidly; the fresh air calming her; and, little by
little, the faces of the crowd, the masks, the quadrilles, the
lights, the supper, those women, all disappeared like mists
fading away. Then, reaching the "Croix-Rouge," she threw herself
on the bed in her little room on the second floor, where there
were pictures of the "Tour de Nesle." At four o'clock Hivert
When she got home, Felicite showed her behind the clock a grey
paper. She read--
"In virtue of the seizure in execution of a judgment."
What judgment? As a matter of fact, the evening before another
paper had been brought that she had not yet seen, and she was
stunned by these words--
"By order of the king, law, and justice, to Madame Bovary." Then,
skipping several lines, she read, "Within twenty-four hours,
without fail--" But what? "To pay the sum of eight thousand
francs." And there was even at the bottom, "She will be
constrained thereto by every form of law, and notably by a writ
of distraint on her furniture and effects."
What was to be done? In twenty-four hours--tomorrow. Lheureux,
she thought, wanted to frighten her again; for she saw through
all his devices, the object of his kindnesses. What reassured her
was the very magnitude of the sum.
However, by dint of buying and not paying, of borrowing, signing
bills, and renewing these bills that grew at each new falling-in,
she had ended by preparing a capital for Monsieur Lheureux which
he was impatiently awaiting for his speculations.
She presented herself at his place with an offhand air.
"You know what has happened to me? No doubt it's a joke!"
He turned away slowly, and, folding his arms, said to her--
"My good lady, did you think I should go on to all eternity being
your purveyor and banker, for the love of God? Now be just. I
must get back what I've laid out. Now be just."
She cried out against the debt.
"Ah! so much the worse. The court has admitted it. There's a
judgment. It's been notified to you. Besides, it isn't my fault.
"Could you not--?"
"Oh, nothing whatever."
"But still, now talk it over."
And she began beating about the bush; she had known nothing about
it; it was a surprise.
"Whose fault is that?" said Lheureux, bowing ironically. "While
I'm slaving like a nigger, you go gallivanting about."
"Ah! no lecturing."
"It never does any harm," he replied.
She turned coward; she implored him; she even pressed her pretty
white and slender hand against the shopkeeper's knee.
"There, that'll do! Anyone'd think you wanted to seduce me!"
"You are a wretch!" she cried.
"Oh, oh! go it! go it!"
"I will show you up. I shall tell my husband."
"All right! I too. I'll show your husband something."
And Lheureux drew from his strong box the receipt for eighteen
hundred francs that she had given him when Vincart had discounted
"Do you think," he added, "that he'll not understand your little
theft, the poor dear man?"
She collapsed, more overcome than if felled by the blow of a
pole-axe. He was walking up and down from the window to the
bureau, repeating all the while--
"Ah! I'll show him! I'll show him!" Then he approached her, and
in a soft voice said--
"It isn't pleasant, I know; but, after all, no bones are broken,
and, since that is the only way that is left for you paying back
"But where am I to get any?" said Emma, wringing her hands.
"Bah! when one has friends like you!"
And he looked at her in so keen, so terrible a fashion, that she
shuddered to her very heart.
"I promise you," she said, "to sign--"
"I've enough of your signatures."
"I will sell something."
"Get along!" he said, shrugging his shoulders; "you've not got