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 amorous astuteness.
"So you can assure me it is all right?" she said with her last kiss.
"But why," he thought afterwards as he came back through the streets
alone, "is she so very anxious to get this power of attorney?"
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 native
He went rambling round her house. A light was burning in the kitchen. He
watched for her shadow behind the curtains, but nothing appeared.
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 celebrities."
"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
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
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
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
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 her soul.
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
"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 reverie.
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