to the child. Rodolphe avoided speaking of her; perhaps he no longer
thought about it.
He wished to have two more weeks before him to arrange some affairs;
then at the end of a week he wanted two more; then he said he was ill;
next he went on a journey. The month of August passed, and, after all
these delays, they decided that it was to be irrevocably fixed for the
4th September--a Monday.
At length the Saturday before arrived.
Rodolphe came in the evening earlier than usual.
"Everything is ready?" she asked him.
Then they walked round a garden-bed, and went to sit down near the
terrace on the kerb-stone of the wall.
"You are sad," said Emma.
And yet he looked at her strangely in a tender fashion.
"It is because you are going away?" she went on; "because you are
leaving what is dear to you--your life? Ah! I understand. I have nothing
in the world! you are all to me; so shall I be to you. I will be your
people, your country; I will tend, I will love you!"
"How sweet you are!" he said, seizing her in his arms.
"Really!" she said with a voluptuous laugh. "Do you love me? Swear it
"Do I love you--love you? I adore you, my love."
The moon, full and purple-coloured, was rising right out of the earth
at the end of the meadow. She rose quickly between the branches of the
poplars, that hid her here and there like a black curtain pierced with
holes. Then she appeared dazzling with whiteness in the empty heavens
that she lit up, and now sailing more slowly along, let fall upon the
river a great stain that broke up into an infinity of stars; and the
silver sheen seemed to writhe through the very depths like a heedless
serpent covered with luminous scales; it also resembled some monster
candelabra all along which sparkled drops of diamonds running together.
The soft night was about them; masses of shadow filled the branches.
Emma, her eyes half closed, breathed in with deep sighs the fresh wind
that was blowing. They did not speak, lost as they were in the rush of
their reverie. The tenderness of the old days came back to their hearts,
full and silent as the flowing river, with the softness of the perfume
of the syringas, and threw across their memories shadows more immense
and more sombre than those of the still willows that lengthened out over
the grass. Often some night-animal, hedgehog or weasel, setting out on
ploughman, to take it with care to Madame Bovary. He made use of this
means for corresponding with her, sending according to the season fruits
"If she asks after me," he said, "you will tell her that I have gone on
a journey. You must give the basket to her herself, into her own hands.
Get along and take care!"
Girard put on his new blouse, knotted his handkerchief round the
apricots, and walking with great heavy steps in his thick iron-bound
galoshes, made his way to Yonville.
Madame Bovary, when he got to her house, was arranging a bundle of linen
on the kitchen-table with Felicite.
"Here," said the ploughboy, "is something for you--from the master."
She was seized with apprehension, and as she sought in her pocket for
some coppers, she looked at the peasant with haggard eyes, while he
himself looked at her with amazement, not understanding how such a
present could so move anyone. At last he went out. Felicite remained.
She could bear it no longer; she ran into the sitting room as if to take
the apricots there, overturned the basket, tore away the leaves, found
the letter, opened it, and, as if some fearful fire were behind her,
Emma flew to her room terrified.
Charles was there; she saw him; he spoke to her; she heard nothing, and
she went on quickly up the stairs, breathless, distraught, dumb, and
ever holding this horrible piece of paper, that crackled between her
fingers like a plate of sheet-iron. On the second floor she stopped
before the attic door, which was closed.
Then she tried to calm herself; she recalled the letter; she must finish
it; she did not dare to. And where? How? She would be seen! "Ah, no!
here," she thought, "I shall be all right."
Emma pushed open the door and went in.
The slates threw straight down a heavy heat that gripped her temples,
stifled her; she dragged herself to the closed garret-window. She drew
back the bolt, and the dazzling light burst in with a leap.
Opposite, beyond the roofs, stretched the open country till it was lost
to sight. Down below, underneath her, the village square was empty; the
stones of the pavement glittered, the weathercocks on the houses were
motionless. At the corner of the street, from a lower storey, rose a
kind of humming with strident modulations. It was Binet turning.
She leant against the embrasure of the window, and reread the letter
with angry sneers. But the more she fixed her attention upon it, the
more confused were her ideas. She saw him again, heard him, encircled
him with her arms, and throbs of her heart, that beat against her breast
like blows of a sledge-hammer, grew faster and faster, with uneven
intervals. She looked about her with the wish that the earth might
crumble into pieces. Why not end it all? What restrained her? She was
free. She advanced, looking at the paving-stones, saying to herself,
The luminous ray that came straight up from below drew the weight of
her body towards the abyss. It seemed to her that the ground of the
oscillating square went up the walls and that the floor dipped on
end like a tossing boat. She was right at the edge, almost hanging,
surrounded by vast space. The blue of the heavens suffused her, the air
was whirling in her hollow head; she had but to yield, to let herself
be taken; and the humming of the lathe never ceased, like an angry voice
"Emma! Emma!" cried Charles.
"Wherever are you? Come!"
The thought that she had just escaped from death almost made her faint
with terror. She closed her eyes; then she shivered at the touch of a
hand on her sleeve; it was Felicite.
"Master is waiting for you, madame; the soup is on the table."
And she had to go down to sit at table.
She tried to eat. The food choked her. Then she unfolded her napkin as
if to examine the darns, and she really thought of applying herself to
this work, counting the threads in the linen. Suddenly the remembrance
of the letter returned to her. How had she lost it? Where could she find
it? But she felt such weariness of spirit that she could not even invent