Part 8 out of 8
that I would have cast upon her tomb."
Charles on getting home undressed, and old Rouault put on his
blue blouse. It was a new one, and as he had often during the
journey wiped his eyes on the sleeves, the dye had stained his
face, and the traces of tears made lines in the layer of dust
that covered it.
Madame Bovary senior was with them. All three were silent. At
last the old fellow sighed--
"Do you remember, my friend, that I went to Tostes once when you
had just lost your first deceased? I consoled you at that time. I
thought of something to say then, but now--" Then, with a loud
groan that shook his whole chest, "Ah! this is the end for me, do
you see! I saw my wife go, then my son, and now to-day it's my
He wanted to go back at once to Bertaux, saying that he could not
sleep in this house. He even refused to see his granddaughter.
"No, no! It would grieve me too much. Only you'll kiss her many
times for me. Good-bye! you're a good fellow! And then I shall
never forget that," he said, slapping his thigh. "Never fear, you
shall always have your turkey."
But when he reached the top of the hill he turned back, as he had
turned once before on the road of Saint-Victor when he had parted
from her. The windows of the village were all on fire beneath the
slanting rays of the sun sinking behind the field. He put his
hand over his eyes, and saw in the horizon an enclosure of walls,
where trees here and there formed black clusters between white
stones; then he went on his way at a gentle trot, for his nag had
Despite their fatigue, Charles and his mother stayed very long
that evening talking together. They spoke of the days of the past
and of the future. She would come to live at Yonville; she would
keep house for him; they would never part again. She was
ingenious and caressing, rejoicing in her heart at gaining once
more an affection that had wandered from her for so many years.
Midnight struck. The village as usual was silent, and Charles,
awake, thought always of her.
Rodolphe, who, to distract himself, had been rambling about the
wood all day, was sleeping quietly in his chateau, and Leon, down
yonder, always slept.
There was another who at that hour was not asleep.
On the grave between the pine-trees a child was on his knees
weeping, and his heart, rent by sobs, was beating in the shadow
beneath the load of an immense regret, sweeter than the moon and
fathomless as the night. The gate suddenly grated. It was
Lestiboudois; he came to fetch his spade, that he had forgotten.
He recognised Justin climbing over the wall, and at last knew who
was the culprit who stole his potatoes.
The next day Charles had the child brought back. She asked for
her mamma. They told her she was away; that she would bring her
back some playthings. Berthe spoke of her again several times,
then at last thought no more of her. The child's gaiety broke
Bovary's heart, and he had to bear besides the intolerable
consolations of the chemist.
Money troubles soon began again, Monsieur Lheureux urging on anew
his friend Vincart, and Charles pledged himself for exorbitant
sums; for he would never consent to let the smallest of the
things that had belonged to HER be sold. His mother was
exasperated with him; he grew even more angry than she did. He
had altogether changed. She left the house.
Then everyone began "taking advantage" of him. Mademoiselle
Lempereur presented a bill for six months' teaching, although
Emma had never taken a lesson (despite the receipted bill she had
shown Bovary); it was an arrangement between the two women. The
man at the circulating library demanded three years'
subscriptions; Mere Rollet claimed the postage due for some
twenty letters, and when Charles asked for an explanation, she
had the delicacy to reply--
"Oh, I don't know. It was for her business affairs."
With every debt he paid Charles thought he had come to the end of
them. But others followed ceaselessly. He sent in accounts for
professional attendance. He was shown the letters his wife had
written. Then he had to apologise.
Felicite now wore Madame Bovary's gowns; not all, for he had kept
some of them, and he went to look at them in her dressing-room,
locking himself up there; she was about her height, and often
Charles, seeing her from behind, was seized with an illusion, and
"Oh, stay, stay!"
But at Whitsuntide she ran away from Yonville, carried off by
Theodore, stealing all that was left of the wardrobe.
It was about this time that the widow Dupuis had the honour to
inform him of the "marriage of Monsieur Leon Dupuis her son,
notary at Yvetot, to Mademoiselle Leocadie Leboeuf of
Bondeville." Charles, among the other congratulations he sent
him, wrote this sentence--
"How glad my poor wife would have been!"
One day when, wandering aimlessly about the house, he had gone up
to the attic, he felt a pellet of fine paper under his slipper.
He opened it and read: "Courage, Emma, courage. I would not bring
misery into your life." It was Rodolphe's letter, fallen to the
ground between the boxes, where it had remained, and that the
wind from the dormer window had just blown towards the door. And
Charles stood, motionless and staring, in the very same place
where, long ago, Emma, in despair, and paler even than he, had
thought of dying. At last he discovered a small R at the bottom
of the second page. What did this mean? He remembered Rodolphe's
attentions, his sudden, disappearance, his constrained air when
they had met two or three times since. But the respectful tone of
the letter deceived him.
"Perhaps they loved one another platonically," he said to
Besides, Charles was not of those who go to the bottom of things;
he shrank from the proofs, and his vague jealousy was lost in the
immensity of his woe.
Everyone, he thought, must have adored her; all men assuredly
must have coveted her. She seemed but the more beautiful to him
for this; he was seized with a lasting, furious desire for her,
that inflamed his despair, and that was boundless, because it was
To please her, as if she were still living, he adopted her
predilections, her ideas; he bought patent leather boots and took
to wearing white cravats. He put cosmetics on his moustache, and,
like her, signed notes of hand. She corrupted him from beyond the
He was obliged to sell his silver piece by piece; next he sold
the drawing-room furniture. All the rooms were stripped; but the
bedroom, her own room, remained as before. After his dinner
Charles went up there. He pushed the round table in front of the
fire, and drew up her armchair. He sat down opposite it. A candle
burnt in one of the gilt candlesticks. Berthe by his side was
He suffered, poor man, at seeing her so badly dressed, with
laceless boots, and the arm-holes of her pinafore torn down to
the hips; for the charwoman took no care of her. But she was so
sweet, so pretty, and her little head bent forward so gracefully,
letting the dear fair hair fall over her rosy cheeks, that an
infinite joy came upon him, a happiness mingled with bitterness,
like those ill-made wines that taste of resin. He mended her
toys, made her puppets from cardboard, or sewed up half-torn
dolls. Then, if his eyes fell upon the workbox, a ribbon lying
about, or even a pin left in a crack of the table, he began to
dream, and looked so sad that she became as sad as he.
No one now came to see them, for Justin had run away to Rouen,
where he was a grocer's assistant, and the druggist's children
saw less and less of the child, Monsieur Homais not caring,
seeing the difference of their social position, to continue the
The blind man, whom he had not been able to cure with the pomade,
had gone back to the hill of Bois-Guillaume, where he told the
travellers of the vain attempt of the druggist, to such an
extent, that Homais when he went to town hid himself behind the
curtains of the "Hirondelle" to avoid meeting him. He detested
him, and wishing, in the interests of his own reputation, to get
rid of him at all costs, he directed against him a secret
battery, that betrayed the depth of his intellect and the
baseness of his vanity. Thus, for six consecutive months, one
could read in the "Fanal de Rouen" editorials such as these--
"All who bend their steps towards the fertile plains of Picardy
have, no doubt, remarked, by the Bois-Guillaume hill, a wretch
suffering from a horrible facial wound. He importunes, persecutes
one, and levies a regular tax on all travellers. Are we still
living in the monstrous times of the Middle Ages, when vagabonds
were permitted to display in our public places leprosy and
scrofulas they had brought back from the Crusades?"
"In spite of the laws against vagabondage, the approaches to our
great towns continue to be infected by bands of beggars. Some are
seen going about alone, and these are not, perhaps, the least
dangerous. What are our ediles about?"
Then Homais invented anecdotes--
"Yesterday, by the Bois-Guillaume hill, a skittish horse--" And
then followed the story of an accident caused by the presence of
the blind man.
He managed so well that the fellow was locked up. But he was
released. He began again, and Homais began again. It was a
struggle. Homais won it, for his foe was condemned to life-long
confinement in an asylum.
This success emboldened him, and henceforth there was no longer a
dog run over, a barn burnt down, a woman beaten in the parish, of
which he did not immediately inform the public, guided always by
the love of progress and the hate of priests. He instituted
comparisons between the elementary and clerical schools to the
detriment of the latter; called to mind the massacre of St.
Bartholomew a propos of a grant of one hundred francs to the
church, and denounced abuses, aired new views. That was his
phrase. Homais was digging and delving; he was becoming
However, he was stifling in the narrow limits of journalism, and
soon a book, a work was necessary to him. Then he composed
"General Statistics of the Canton of Yonville, followed by
Climatological Remarks." The statistics drove him to philosophy.
He busied himself with great questions: the social problem,
moralisation of the poorer classes, pisciculture, caoutchouc,
railways, etc. He even began to blush at being a bourgeois. He
affected the artistic style, he smoked. He bought two chic
Pompadour statuettes to adorn his drawing-room.
He by no means gave up his shop. On the contrary, he kept well
abreast of new discoveries. He followed the great movement of
chocolates; he was the first to introduce "cocoa" and "revalenta"
into the Seine-Inferieure. He was enthusiastic about the
hydro-electric Pulvermacher chains; he wore one himself, and when
at night he took off his flannel vest, Madame Homais stood quite
dazzled before the golden spiral beneath which he was hidden,
and felt her ardour redouble for this man more bandaged than a
Scythian, and splendid as one of the Magi.
He had fine ideas about Emma's tomb. First he proposed a broken
column with some drapery, next a pyramid, then a Temple of Vesta,
a sort of rotunda, or else a "mass of ruins." And in all his
plans Homais always stuck to the weeping willow, which he looked
upon as the indispensable symbol of sorrow.
Charles and he made a journey to Rouen together to look at some
tombs at a funeral furnisher's, accompanied by an artist, one
Vaufrylard, a friend of Bridoux's, who made puns all the time. At
last, after having examined some hundred designs, having ordered
an estimate and made another journey to Rouen, Charles decided in
favour of a mausoleum, which on the two principal sides was to
have a "spirit bearing an extinguished torch."
As to the inscription, Homais could think of nothing so fine as
Sta viator*, and he got no further; he racked his brain, he
constantly repeated Sta viator. At last he hit upon Amabilen
conjugem calcas**, which was adopted.
* Rest traveler.
** Tread upon a loving wife.
A strange thing was that Bovary, while continually thinking of
Emma, was forgetting her. He grew desperate as he felt this image
fading from his memory in spite of all efforts to retain it. Yet
every night he dreamt of her; it was always the same dream. He
drew near her, but when he was about to clasp her she fell into
decay in his arms.
For a week he was seen going to church in the evening. Monsieur
Bournisien even paid him two or three visits, then gave him up.
Moreover, the old fellow was growing intolerant, fanatic, said
Homais. He thundered against the spirit of the age, and never
failed, every other week, in his sermon, to recount the death
agony of Voltaire, who died devouring his excrements, as everyone
In spite of the economy with which Bovary lived, he was far from
being able to pay off his old debts. Lheureux refused to renew
any more bills. A distraint became imminent. Then he appealed to
his mother, who consented to let him take a mortgage on her
property, but with a great many recriminations against Emma; and
in return for her sacrifice she asked for a shawl that had
escaped the depredations of Felicite. Charles refused to give it
her; they quarrelled.
She made the first overtures of reconciliation by offering to
have the little girl, who could help her in the house, to live
with her. Charles consented to this, but when the time for
parting came, all his courage failed him. Then there was a final,
As his affections vanished, he clung more closely to the love of
his child. She made him anxious, however, for she coughed
sometimes, and had red spots on her cheeks.
Opposite his house, flourishing and merry, was the family of the
chemist, with whom everything was prospering. Napoleon helped him
in the laboratory, Athalie embroidered him a skullcap, Irma cut
out rounds of paper to cover the preserves, and Franklin recited
Pythagoras' table in a breath. He was the happiest of fathers,
the most fortunate of men.
Not so! A secret ambition devoured him. Homais hankered after the
cross of the Legion of Honour. He had plenty of claims to it.
"First, having at the time of the cholera distinguished myself by
a boundless devotion; second, by having published, at my expense,
various works of public utility, such as" (and he recalled his
pamphlet entitled, "Cider, its manufacture and effects," besides
observation on the lanigerous plant-louse, sent to the Academy;
his volume of statistics, and down to his pharmaceutical thesis);
"without counting that I am a member of several learned
societies" (he was member of a single one).
"In short!" he cried, making a pirouette, "if it were only for
distinguishing myself at fires!"
Then Homais inclined towards the Government. He secretly did the
prefect great service during the elections. He sold himself--in a
word, prostituted himself. He even addressed a petition to the
sovereign in which he implored him to "do him justice"; he called
him "our good king," and compared him to Henri IV.
And every morning the druggist rushed for the paper to see if his
nomination were in it. It was never there. At last, unable to
bear it any longer, he had a grass plot in his garden designed to
represent the Star of the Cross of Honour with two little strips
of grass running from the top to imitate the ribband. He walked
round it with folded arms, meditating on the folly of the
Government and the ingratitude of men.
From respect, or from a sort of sensuality that made him carry on
his investigations slowly, Charles had not yet opened the secret
drawer of a rosewood desk which Emma had generally used. One day,
however, he sat down before it, turned the key, and pressed the
spring. All Leon's letters were there. There could be no doubt
this time. He devoured them to the very last, ransacked every
corner, all the furniture, all the drawers, behind the walls,
sobbing, crying aloud, distraught, mad. He found a box and broke
it open with a kick. Rodolphe's portrait flew full in his face in
the midst of the overturned love-letters.
People wondered at his despondency. He never went out, saw no
one, refused even to visit his patients. Then they said "he shut
himself up to drink."
Sometimes, however, some curious person climbed on to the garden
hedge, and saw with amazement this long-bearded, shabbily
clothed, wild man, who wept aloud as he walked up and down.
In the evening in summer he took his little girl with him and led
her to the cemetery. They came back at nightfall, when the only
light left in the Place was that in Binet's window.
The voluptuousness of his grief was, however, incomplete, for he
had no one near him to share it, and he paid visits to Madame
Lefrancois to be able to speak of her.
But the landlady only listened with half an ear, having troubles
like himself. For Lheureux had at last established the "Favorites
du Commerce," and Hivert, who enjoyed a great reputation for
doing errands, insisted on a rise of wages, and was threatening
to go over "to the opposition shop."
One day when he had gone to the market at Argueil to sell his
horse--his last resource--he met Rodolphe.
They both turned pale when they caught sight of one another.
Rodolphe, who had only sent his card, first stammered some
apologies, then grew bolder, and even pushed his assurance (it
was in the month of August and very hot) to the length of
inviting him to have a bottle of beer at the public-house.
Leaning on the table opposite him, he chewed his cigar as he
talked, and Charles was lost in reverie at this face that she had
loved. He seemed to see again something of her in it. It was a
marvel to him. He would have liked to have been this man.
The other went on talking agriculture, cattle, pasturage, filling
out with banal phrases all the gaps where an allusion might slip
in. Charles was not listening to him; Rodolphe noticed it, and he
followed the succession of memories that crossed his face. This
gradually grew redder; the nostrils throbbed fast, the lips
quivered. There was at last a moment when Charles, full of a
sombre fury, fixed his eyes on Rodolphe, who, in something of
fear, stopped talking. But soon the same look of weary lassitude
came back to his face.
"I don't blame you," he said.
Rodolphe was dumb. And Charles, his head in his hands, went on in
a broken voice, and with the resigned accent of infinite sorrow--
"No, I don't blame you now."
He even added a fine phrase, the only one he ever made--
"It is the fault of fatality!"
Rodolphe, who had managed the fatality, thought the remark very
offhand from a man in his position, comic even, and a little
The next day Charles went to sit down on the seat in the arbour.
Rays of light were straying through the trellis, the vine leaves
threw their shadows on the sand, the jasmines perfumed the air,
the heavens were blue, Spanish flies buzzed round the lilies in
bloom, and Charles was suffocating like a youth beneath the vague
love influences that filled his aching heart.
At seven o'clock little Berthe, who had not seen him all the
afternoon, went to fetch him to dinner.
His head was thrown back against the wall, his eyes closed, his
mouth open, and in his hand was a long tress of black hair.
"Come along, papa," she said.
And thinking he wanted to play; she pushed him gently. He fell to
the ground. He was dead.
Thirty-six hours after, at the druggist's request, Monsieur
Canivet came thither. He made a post-mortem and found nothing.
When everything had been sold, twelve francs seventy-five
centimes remained, that served to pay for Mademoiselle Bovary's
going to her grandmother. The good woman died the same year; old
Rouault was paralysed, and it was an aunt who took charge of her.
She is poor, and sends her to a cotton-factory to earn a living.
Since Bovary's death three doctors have followed one another at
Yonville without any success, so severely did Homais attack them.
He has an enormous practice; the authorities treat him with
consideration, and public opinion protects him.
He has just received the cross of the Legion of Honour.