as he caught sight of the doctor his elation subsided, and instead of
swearing, as he had been doing for the last twelve hours, began to groan
The fracture was a simple one, without any kind of complication.
Charles could not have hoped for an easier case. Then calling to mind
the devices of his masters at the bedsides of patients, he comforted the
sufferer with all sorts of kindly remarks, those Caresses of the surgeon
that are like the oil they put on bistouries. In order to make some
splints a bundle of laths was brought up from the cart-house. Charles
selected one, cut it into two pieces and planed it with a fragment
of windowpane, while the servant tore up sheets to make bandages, and
Mademoiselle Emma tried to sew some pads. As she was a long time before
she found her work-case, her father grew impatient; she did not answer,
but as she sewed she pricked her fingers, which she then put to her
mouth to suck them. Charles was surprised at the whiteness of her nails.
They were shiny, delicate at the tips, more polished than the ivory of
Dieppe, and almond-shaped. Yet her hand was not beautiful, perhaps not
white enough, and a little hard at the knuckles; besides, it was too
long, with no soft inflections in the outlines. Her real beauty was in
her eyes. Although brown, they seemed black because of the lashes, and
her look came at you frankly, with a candid boldness.
The bandaging over, the doctor was invited by Monsieur Rouault himself
to "pick a bit" before he left.
Charles went down into the room on the ground floor. Knives and forks
and silver goblets were laid for two on a little table at the foot of a
huge bed that had a canopy of printed cotton with figures representing
Turks. There was an odour of iris-root and damp sheets that escaped
from a large oak chest opposite the window. On the floor in corners were
sacks of flour stuck upright in rows. These were the overflow from
the neighbouring granary, to which three stone steps led. By way of
decoration for the apartment, hanging to a nail in the middle of the
wall, whose green paint scaled off from the effects of the saltpetre,
was a crayon head of Minerva in gold frame, underneath which was written
in Gothic letters "To dear Papa."
First they spoke of the patient, then of the weather, of the great cold,
of the wolves that infested the fields at night.
Mademoiselle Rouault did not at all like the country, especially now
that she had to look after the farm almost alone. As the room was
chilly, she shivered as she ate. This showed something of her full lips,
that she had a habit of biting when silent.
Her neck stood out from a white turned-down collar. Her hair, whose
two black folds seemed each of a single piece, so smooth were they, was
parted in the middle by a delicate line that curved slightly with the
curve of the head; and, just showing the tip of the ear, it was joined
behind in a thick chignon, with a wavy movement at the temples that the
country doctor saw now for the first time in his life. The upper part of
her cheek was rose-coloured. She had, like a man, thrust in between two
buttons of her bodice a tortoise-shell eyeglass.
When Charles, after bidding farewell to old Rouault, returned to the
room before leaving, he found her standing, her forehead against the
window, looking into the garden, where the bean props had been knocked
down by the wind. She turned round. "Are you looking for anything?" she
"My whip, if you please," he answered.
He began rummaging on the bed, behind the doors, under the chairs. It
had fallen to the floor, between the sacks and the wall. Mademoiselle
Emma saw it, and bent over the flour sacks.
Charles out of politeness made a dash also, and as he stretched out his
arm, at the same moment felt his breast brush against the back of the
young girl bending beneath him. She drew herself up, scarlet, and looked
at him over her shoulder as she handed him his whip.
Instead of returning to the Bertaux in three days as he had promised,
he went back the very next day, then regularly twice a week, without
counting the visits he paid now and then as if by accident.
Everything, moreover, went well; the patient progressed favourably; and
when, at the end of forty-six days, old Rouault was seen trying to walk
alone in his "den," Monsieur Bovary began to be looked upon as a man
of great capacity. Old Rouault said that he could not have been cured
better by the first doctor of Yvetot, or even of Rouen.
As to Charles, he did not stop to ask himself why it was a pleasure
to him to go to the Bertaux. Had he done so, he would, no doubt, have
attributed his zeal to the importance of the case, or perhaps to the
household. The matter had to be gone into. The house at Dieppe was found
to be eaten up with mortgages to its foundations; what she had placed
with the notary God only knew, and her share in the boat did not exceed
one thousand crowns. She had lied, the good lady! In his exasperation,
Monsieur Bovary the elder, smashing a chair on the flags, accused his
wife of having caused misfortune to the son by harnessing him to such
a harridan, whose harness wasn't worth her hide. They came to Tostes.
Explanations followed. There were scenes. Heloise in tears, throwing her
arms about her husband, implored him to defend her from his parents.
Charles tried to speak up for her. They grew angry and left the house.
But "the blow had struck home." A week after, as she was hanging up some
washing in her yard, she was seized with a spitting of blood, and
the next day, while Charles had his back turned to her drawing the
window-curtain, she said, "O God!" gave a sigh and fainted. She was
dead! What a surprise! When all was over at the cemetery Charles went
home. He found no one downstairs; he went up to the first floor to
their room; say her dress still hanging at the foot of the alcove; then,
leaning against the writing-table, he stayed until the evening, buried
in a sorrowful reverie. She had loved him after all!
One morning old Rouault brought Charles the money for setting his
leg--seventy-five francs in forty-sou pieces, and a turkey. He had heard
of his loss, and consoled him as well as he could.
"I know what it is," said he, clapping him on the shoulder; "I've been
through it. When I lost my dear departed, I went into the fields to be
quite alone. I fell at the foot of a tree; I cried; I called on God; I
talked nonsense to Him. I wanted to be like the moles that I saw on the
branches, their insides swarming with worms, dead, and an end of it.
And when I thought that there were others at that very moment with their
nice little wives holding them in their embrace, I struck great blows on
the earth with my stick. I was pretty well mad with not eating; the very
idea of going to a cafe disgusted me--you wouldn't believe it. Well,
quite softly, one day following another, a spring on a winter, and an
autumn after a summer, this wore away, piece by piece, crumb by crumb;
it passed away, it is gone, I should say it has sunk; for something
always remains at the bottom as one would say--a weight here, at one's
heart. But since it is the lot of all of us, one must not give way
altogether, and, because others have died, want to die too. You must
pull yourself together, Monsieur Bovary. It will pass away. Come to see
us; my daughter thinks of you now and again, d'ye know, and she says
you are forgetting her. Spring will soon be here. We'll have some
rabbit-shooting in the warrens to amuse you a bit."
Charles followed his advice. He went back to the Bertaux. He found all
as he had left it, that is to say, as it was five months ago. The pear
trees were already in blossom, and Farmer Rouault, on his legs again,
came and went, making the farm more full of life.
Thinking it his duty to heap the greatest attention upon the doctor
because of his sad position, he begged him not to take his hat off,
spoke to him in an undertone as if he had been ill, and even pretended
to be angry because nothing rather lighter had been prepared for him
than for the others, such as a little clotted cream or stewed pears. He
told stories. Charles found himself laughing, but the remembrance of his
wife suddenly coming back to him depressed him. Coffee was brought in;
he thought no more about her.
He thought less of her as he grew accustomed to living alone. The new
delight of independence soon made his loneliness bearable. He could now
change his meal-times, go in or out without explanation, and when he was
very tired stretch himself at full length on his bed. So he nursed and
coddled himself and accepted the consolations that were offered him.
On the other hand, the death of his wife had not served him ill in his
business, since for a month people had been saying, "The poor young
man! what a loss!" His name had been talked about, his practice had
increased; and moreover, he could go to the Bertaux just as he liked.
He had an aimless hope, and was vaguely happy; he thought himself better
looking as he brushed his whiskers before the looking-glass.
One day he got there about three o'clock. Everybody was in the fields.