Madame bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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So at last she was to know those joys of love, that fever of happiness

of which she had despaired! She was entering upon marvels where all

would be passion, ecstasy, delirium. An azure infinity encompassed

her, the heights of sentiment sparkled under her thought, and ordinary

existence appeared only afar off, down below in the shade, through the

interspaces of these heights.

Then she recalled the heroines of the books that she had read, and the

lyric legion of these adulterous women began to sing in her memory with

the voice of sisters that charmed her. She became herself, as it were,

an actual part of these imaginings, and realised the love-dream of her

youth as she saw herself in this type of amorous women whom she had

so envied. Besides, Emma felt a satisfaction of revenge. Had she not

suffered enough? But now she triumphed, and the love so long pent up

burst forth in full joyous bubblings. She tasted it without remorse,

without anxiety, without trouble.
The day following passed with a new sweetness. They made vows to one

another She told him of her sorrows. Rodolphe interrupted her with

kisses; and she looking at him through half-closed eyes, asked him to

call her again by her name--to say that he loved her They were in the

forest, as yesterday, in the shed of some woodenshoe maker. The walls

were of straw, and the roof so low they had to stoop. They were seated

side by side on a bed of dry leaves.
From that day forth they wrote to one another regularly every evening.

Emma placed her letter at the end of the garden, by the river, in a

fissure of the wall. Rodolphe came to fetch it, and put another there,

that she always found fault with as too short.

One morning, when Charles had gone out before day break, she was seized

with the fancy to see Rodolphe at once. She would go quickly to La

Huchette, stay there an hour, and be back again at Yonville while

everyone was still asleep. This idea made her pant with desire, and she

soon found herself in the middle of the field, walking with rapid steps,

without looking behind her.

Day was just breaking. Emma from afar recognised her lover's house. Its

two dove-tailed weathercocks stood out black against the pale dawn.

Beyond the farmyard there was a detached building that she thought must

be the chateau She entered--it was if the doors at her approach had

opened wide of their own accord. A large straight staircase led up to

the corridor. Emma raised the latch of a door, and suddenly at the end

of the room she saw a man sleeping. It was Rodolphe. She uttered a cry.
"You here? You here?" he repeated. "How did you manage to come? Ah! your

dress is damp."

"I love you," she answered, throwing her arms about his neck.
This first piece of daring successful, now every time Charles went out

early Emma dressed quickly and slipped on tiptoe down the steps that led

to the waterside.
But when the plank for the cows was taken up, she had to go by the walls

alongside of the river; the bank was slippery; in order not to fall

she caught hold of the tufts of faded wallflowers. Then she went across

ploughed fields, in which she sank, stumbling; and clogging her thin

shoes. Her scarf, knotted round her head, fluttered to the wind in the

meadows. She was afraid of the oxen; she began to run; she arrived out

of breath, with rosy cheeks, and breathing out from her whole person a

fresh perfume of sap, of verdure, of the open air. At this hour Rodolphe

still slept. It was like a spring morning coming into his room.
The yellow curtains along the windows let a heavy, whitish light enter

softly. Emma felt about, opening and closing her eyes, while the drops

of dew hanging from her hair formed, as it were, a topaz aureole around

her face. Rodolphe, laughing, drew her to him, and pressed her to his

Then she examined the apartment, opened the drawers of the tables,

combed her hair with his comb, and looked at herself in his

shaving-glass. Often she even put between her teeth the big pipe that

lay on the table by the bed, amongst lemons and pieces of sugar near a

bottle of water.
It took them a good quarter of an hour to say goodbye. Then Emma cried.

She would have wished never to leave Rodolphe. Something stronger than

herself forced her to him; so much so, that one day, seeing her come

unexpectedly, he frowned as one put out.

"What is the matter with you?" she said. "Are you ill? Tell me!"
At last he declared with a serious air that her visits were becoming

imprudent--that she was compromising herself.

Chapter Ten

Gradually Rodolphe's fears took possession of her. At first, love had

intoxicated her; and she had thought of nothing beyond. But now that he

was indispensable to her life, she feared to lose anything of this, or

even that it should be disturbed. When she came back from his house she

looked all about her, anxiously watching every form that passed in the

horizon, and every village window from which she could be seen. She

listened for steps, cries, the noise of the ploughs, and she stopped

short, white, and trembling more than the aspen leaves swaying overhead.

One morning as she was thus returning, she suddenly thought she saw the

long barrel of a carbine that seemed to be aimed at her. It stuck out

sideways from the end of a small tub half-buried in the grass on the

edge of a ditch. Emma, half-fainting with terror, nevertheless walked

on, and a man stepped out of the tub like a Jack-in-the-box. He had

gaiters buckled up to the knees, his cap pulled down over his eyes,

trembling lips, and a red nose. It was Captain Binet lying in ambush for

wild ducks.

"You ought to have called out long ago!" he exclaimed; "When one sees a

gun, one should always give warning."

The tax-collector was thus trying to hide the fright he had had, for

a prefectorial order having prohibited duckhunting except in boats,

Monsieur Binet, despite his respect for the laws, was infringing them,

and so he every moment expected to see the rural guard turn up. But

this anxiety whetted his pleasure, and, all alone in his tub, he

congratulated himself on his luck and on his cuteness. At sight of

Emma he seemed relieved from a great weight, and at once entered upon a


"It isn't warm; it's nipping."
Emma answered nothing. He went on--
"And you're out so early?"
"Yes," she said stammering; "I am just coming from the nurse where my

child is."

"Ah! very good! very good! For myself, I am here, just as you see me,

since break of day; but the weather is so muggy, that unless one had the

bird at the mouth of the gun--"
"Good evening, Monsieur Binet," she interrupted him, turning on her

"Your servant, madame," he replied drily; and he went back into his tub.

Emma regretted having left the tax-collector so abruptly. No doubt he

would form unfavourable conjectures. The story about the nurse was the

worst possible excuse, everyone at Yonville knowing that the little

Bovary had been at home with her parents for a year. Besides, no one

was living in this direction; this path led only to La Huchette. Binet,

then, would guess whence she came, and he would not keep silence; he

would talk, that was certain. She remained until evening racking her

brain with every conceivable lying project, and had constantly before

her eyes that imbecile with the game-bag.
Charles after dinner, seeing her gloomy, proposed, by way of

distraction, to take her to the chemist's, and the first person she

caught sight of in the shop was the taxcollector again. He was standing

in front of the counter, lit up by the gleams of the red bottle, and was

"Please give me half an ounce of vitriol."
"Justin," cried the druggist, "bring us the sulphuric acid." Then to

Emma, who was going up to Madame Homais' room, "No, stay here; it isn't

worth while going up; she is just coming down. Warm yourself at the

stove in the meantime. Excuse me. Good-day, doctor," (for the chemist

much enjoyed pronouncing the word "doctor," as if addressing another by

it reflected on himself some of the grandeur that he found in it). "Now,

take care not to upset the mortars! You'd better fetch some chairs from

the little room; you know very well that the arm-chairs are not to be

taken out of the drawing-room."
And to put his arm-chair back in its place he was darting away from the

counter, when Binet asked him for half an ounce of sugar acid.

"Sugar acid!" said the chemist contemptuously, "don't know it; I'm

ignorant of it! But perhaps you want oxalic acid. It is oxalic acid,

isn't it?"
Binet explained that he wanted a corrosive to make himself some

copperwater with which to remove rust from his hunting things.

Emma shuddered. The chemist began saying--
"Indeed the weather is not propitious on account of the damp."
"Nevertheless," replied the tax-collector, with a sly look, "there are

people who like it."

She was stifling.
"And give me--"
"Will he never go?" thought she.
"Half an ounce of resin and turpentine, four ounces of yellow wax,

and three half ounces of animal charcoal, if you please, to clean the

varnished leather of my togs."
The druggist was beginning to cut the wax when Madame Homais appeared,

Irma in her arms, Napoleon by her side, and Athalie following. She sat

down on the velvet seat by the window, and the lad squatted down on a

footstool, while his eldest sister hovered round the jujube box near

her papa. The latter was filling funnels and corking phials, sticking on

labels, making up parcels. Around him all were silent; only from time

to time, were heard the weights jingling in the balance, and a few low

words from the chemist giving directions to his pupil.

"And how's the little woman?" suddenly asked Madame Homais.
"Silence!" exclaimed her husband, who was writing down some figures in

his waste-book.

"Why didn't you bring her?" she went on in a low voice.
"Hush! hush!" said Emma, pointing with her finger to the druggist.
But Binet, quite absorbed in looking over his bill, had probably heard

nothing. At last he went out. Then Emma, relieved, uttered a deep sigh.

"How hard you are breathing!" said Madame Homais.
"Well, you see, it's rather warm," she replied.
So the next day they talked over how to arrange their rendezvous. Emma

wanted to bribe her servant with a present, but it would be better to

find some safe house at Yonville. Rodolphe promised to look for one.
All through the winter, three or four times a week, in the dead of night

he came to the garden. Emma had on purpose taken away the key of the

gate, which Charles thought lost.
To call her, Rodolphe threw a sprinkle of sand at the shutters. She

jumped up with a start; but sometimes he had to wait, for Charles had a

mania for chatting by the fireside, and he would not stop. She was wild

with impatience; if her eyes could have done it, she would have hurled

him out at the window. At last she would begin to undress, then take up

a book, and go on reading very quietly as if the book amused her. But

Charles, who was in bed, called to her to come too.
"Come, now, Emma," he said, "it is time."
"Yes, I am coming," she answered.
Then, as the candles dazzled him; he turned to the wall and fell asleep.

She escaped, smiling, palpitating, undressed. Rodolphe had a large

cloak; he wrapped her in it, and putting his arm round her waist, he

drew her without a word to the end of the garden.

It was in the arbour, on the same seat of old sticks where formerly Leon

had looked at her so amorously on the summer evenings. She never thought

of him now.
The stars shone through the leafless jasmine branches. Behind them they

heard the river flowing, and now and again on the bank the rustling

of the dry reeds. Masses of shadow here and there loomed out in the

darkness, and sometimes, vibrating with one movement, they rose up and

swayed like immense black waves pressing forward to engulf them. The

cold of the nights made them clasp closer; the sighs of their lips

seemed to them deeper; their eyes that they could hardly see, larger;

and in the midst of the silence low words were spoken that fell on

their souls sonorous, crystalline, and that reverberated in multiplied


When the night was rainy, they took refuge in the consulting-room

between the cart-shed and the stable. She lighted one of the kitchen

candles that she had hidden behind the books. Rodolphe settled down

there as if at home. The sight of the library, of the bureau, of the

whole apartment, in fine, excited his merriment, and he could not

refrain from making jokes about Charles, which rather embarrassed Emma.

She would have liked to see him more serious, and even on occasions

more dramatic; as, for example, when she thought she heard a noise of

approaching steps in the alley.
"Someone is coming!" she said.
He blew out the light.
"Have you your pistols?"
"Why, to defend yourself," replied Emma.
"From your husband? Oh, poor devil!" And Rodolphe finished his sentence

with a gesture that said, "I could crush him with a flip of my finger."

She was wonder-stricken at his bravery, although she felt in it a sort

of indecency and a naive coarseness that scandalised her.

Rodolphe reflected a good deal on the affair of the pistols. If she had

spoken seriously, it was very ridiculous, he thought, even odious; for

he had no reason to hate the good Charles, not being what is called

devoured by jealousy; and on this subject Emma had taken a great vow

that he did not think in the best of taste.
Besides, she was growing very sentimental. She had insisted on

exchanging miniatures; they had cut off handfuls of hair, and now she

was asking for a ring--a real wedding-ring, in sign of an eternal union.

She often spoke to him of the evening chimes, of the voices of nature.

Then she talked to him of her mother--hers! and of his mother--his!

Rodolphe had lost his twenty years ago. Emma none the less consoled

him with caressing words as one would have done a lost child, and she

sometimes even said to him, gazing at the moon--

"I am sure that above there together they approve of our love."
But she was so pretty. He had possessed so few women of such

ingenuousness. This love without debauchery was a new experience for

him, and, drawing him out of his lazy habits, caressed at once his pride

and his sensuality. Emma's enthusiasm, which his bourgeois good sense

disdained, seemed to him in his heart of hearts charming, since it

was lavished on him. Then, sure of being loved, he no longer kept up

appearances, and insensibly his ways changed.
He had no longer, as formerly, words so gentle that they made her cry,

nor passionate caresses that made her mad, so that their great love,

which engrossed her life, seemed to lessen beneath her like the water of

a stream absorbed into its channel, and she could see the bed of it.

She would not believe it; she redoubled in tenderness, and Rodolphe

concealed his indifference less and less.

She did not know if she regretted having yielded to him, or whether she

did not wish, on the contrary, to enjoy him the more. The humiliation

of feeling herself weak was turning to rancour, tempered by their

voluptuous pleasures. It was not affection; it was like a continual

seduction. He subjugated her; she almost feared him.
Appearances, nevertheless, were calmer than ever, Rodolphe having

succeeded in carrying out the adultery after his own fancy; and at the

end of six months, when the spring-time came, they were to one another

like a married couple, tranquilly keeping up a domestic flame.

It was the time of year when old Rouault sent his turkey in remembrance

of the setting of his leg. The present always arrived with a letter.

Emma cut the string that tied it to the basket, and read the following

"My Dear Children--I hope this will find you well, and that this one

will be as good as the others. For it seems to me a little more tender,

if I may venture to say so, and heavier. But next time, for a change,

I'll give you a turkeycock, unless you have a preference for some dabs;

and send me back the hamper, if you please, with the two old ones. I

have had an accident with my cart-sheds, whose covering flew off one

windy night among the trees. The harvest has not been overgood either.

Finally, I don't know when I shall come to see you. It is so difficult

now to leave the house since I am alone, my poor Emma."

Here there was a break in the lines, as if the old fellow had dropped

his pen to dream a little while.

"For myself, I am very well, except for a cold I caught the other day at

the fair at Yvetot, where I had gone to hire a shepherd, having turned

away mine because he was too dainty. How we are to be pitied with such

a lot of thieves! Besides, he was also rude. I heard from a pedlar, who,

travelling through your part of the country this winter, had a tooth

drawn, that Bovary was as usual working hard. That doesn't surprise me;

and he showed me his tooth; we had some coffee together. I asked him if

he had seen you, and he said not, but that he had seen two horses in the

stables, from which I conclude that business is looking up. So much

the better, my dear children, and may God send you every imaginable

happiness! It grieves me not yet to have seen my dear little

grand-daughter, Berthe Bovary. I have planted an Orleans plum-tree for

her in the garden under your room, and I won't have it touched unless it

is to have jam made for her by and bye, that I will keep in the cupboard

for her when she comes.
"Good-bye, my dear children. I kiss you, my girl, you too, my

son-in-law, and the little one on both cheeks. I am, with best

compliments, your loving father.
"Theodore Rouault."
She held the coarse paper in her fingers for some minutes. The spelling

mistakes were interwoven one with the other, and Emma followed the

kindly thought that cackled right through it like a hen half hidden

in the hedge of thorns. The writing had been dried with ashes from

the hearth, for a little grey powder slipped from the letter on to her

dress, and she almost thought she saw her father bending over the hearth

to take up the tongs. How long since she had been with him, sitting on

the footstool in the chimney-corner, where she used to burn the end of

a bit of wood in the great flame of the sea-sedges! She remembered the

summer evenings all full of sunshine. The colts neighed when anyone

passed by, and galloped, galloped. Under her window there was a beehive,

and sometimes the bees wheeling round in the light struck against her

window like rebounding balls of gold. What happiness there had been

at that time, what freedom, what hope! What an abundance of illusions!

Nothing was left of them now. She had got rid of them all in her soul's

life, in all her successive conditions of life, maidenhood, her marriage,

and her love--thus constantly losing them all her life through, like

a traveller who leaves something of his wealth at every inn along his

But what then, made her so unhappy? What was the extraordinary

catastrophe that had transformed her? And she raised her head, looking

round as if to seek the cause of that which made her suffer.
An April ray was dancing on the china of the whatnot; the fire burned;

beneath her slippers she felt the softness of the carpet; the day was

bright, the air warm, and she heard her child shouting with laughter.
In fact, the little girl was just then rolling on the lawn in the midst

of the grass that was being turned. She was lying flat on her stomach

at the top of a rick. The servant was holding her by her skirt.

Lestiboudois was raking by her side, and every time he came near she

lent forward, beating the air with both her arms.
"Bring her to me," said her mother, rushing to embrace her. "How I love

you, my poor child! How I love you!"

Then noticing that the tips of her ears were rather dirty, she rang at

once for warm water, and washed her, changed her linen, her stockings,

her shoes, asked a thousand questions about her health, as if on the

return from a long journey, and finally, kissing her again and crying

a little, she gave her back to the servant, who stood quite

thunderstricken at this excess of tenderness.

That evening Rodolphe found her more serious than usual.
"That will pass over," he concluded; "it's a whim:"
And he missed three rendezvous running. When he did come, she showed

herself cold and almost contemptuous.

"Ah! you're losing your time, my lady!"
And he pretended not to notice her melancholy sighs, nor the

handkerchief she took out.

Then Emma repented. She even asked herself why she detested Charles; if

it had not been better to have been able to love him? But he gave her

no opportunities for such a revival of sentiment, so that she was much

embarrassed by her desire for sacrifice, when the druggist came just in

time to provide her with an opportunity.

Chapter Eleven

He had recently read a eulogy on a new method for curing club-foot, and

as he was a partisan of progress, he conceived the patriotic idea that

Yonville, in order to keep to the fore, ought to have some operations

for strephopody or club-foot.

"For," said he to Emma, "what risk is there? See--" (and he enumerated

on his fingers the advantages of the attempt), "success, almost certain

relief and beautifying of the patient, celebrity acquired by the

operator. Why, for example, should not your husband relieve poor

Hippolyte of the 'Lion d'Or'? Note that he would not fail to tell about

his cure to all the travellers, and then" (Homais lowered his voice and

looked round him) "who is to prevent me from sending a short paragraph

on the subject to the paper? Eh! goodness me! an article gets about; it

is talked of; it ends by making a snowball! And who knows? who knows?"
In fact, Bovary might succeed. Nothing proved to Emma that he was not

clever; and what a satisfaction for her to have urged him to a step by

which his reputation and fortune would be increased! She only wished to

lean on something more solid than love.

Charles, urged by the druggist and by her, allowed himself to be

persuaded. He sent to Rouen for Dr. Duval's volume, and every evening,

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