the flowers on their tomb, of vows, exile, fate, hopes; and when they
uttered the final adieu, Emma gave a sharp cry that mingled with the
vibrations of the last chords.
"But why," asked Bovary, "does that gentleman persecute her?"
"No, no!" she answered; "he is her lover!"
"Yet he vows vengeance on her family, while the other one who came on
before said, 'I love Lucie and she loves me!' Besides, he went off with
her father arm in arm. For he certainly is her father, isn't he--the
ugly little man with a cock's feather in his hat?"
Despite Emma's explanations, as soon as the recitative duet began
in which Gilbert lays bare his abominable machinations to his master
Ashton, Charles, seeing the false troth-ring that is to deceive Lucie,
thought it was a love-gift sent by Edgar. He confessed, moreover, that
he did not understand the story because of the music, which interfered
very much with the words.
"What does it matter?" said Emma. "Do be quiet!"
"Yes, but you know," he went on, leaning against her shoulder, "I like
to understand things."
"Be quiet! be quiet!" she cried impatiently.
Lucie advanced, half supported by her women, a wreath of orange blossoms
in her hair, and paler than the white satin of her gown. Emma dreamed
of her marriage day; she saw herself at home again amid the corn in the
little path as they walked to the church. Oh, why had not she, like
this woman, resisted, implored? She, on the contrary, had been joyous,
without seeing the abyss into which she was throwing herself. Ah! if
in the freshness of her beauty, before the soiling of marriage and the
disillusions of adultery, she could have anchored her life upon some
great, strong heart, then virtue, tenderness, voluptuousness, and duty
blending, she would never have fallen from so high a happiness. But that
happiness, no doubt, was a lie invented for the despair of all desire.
She now knew the smallness of the passions that art exaggerated. So,
striving to divert her thoughts, Emma determined now to see in this
at her. But the mad idea seized her that he was looking at her; it was
certain. She longed to run to his arms, to take refuge in his strength,
as in the incarnation of love itself, and to say to him, to cry out,
"Take me away! carry me with you! let us go! Thine, thine! all my ardour
and all my dreams!"
The curtain fell.
The smell of the gas mingled with that of the breaths, the waving of the
fans, made the air more suffocating. Emma wanted to go out; the
crowd filled the corridors, and she fell back in her arm-chair with
palpitations that choked her. Charles, fearing that she would faint, ran
to the refreshment-room to get a glass of barley-water.
He had great difficulty in getting back to his seat, for his elbows were
jerked at every step because of the glass he held in his hands, and
he even spilt three-fourths on the shoulders of a Rouen lady in short
sleeves, who feeling the cold liquid running down to her loins, uttered
cries like a peacock, as if she were being assassinated. Her husband,
who was a millowner, railed at the clumsy fellow, and while she was with
her handkerchief wiping up the stains from her handsome cherry-coloured
taffeta gown, he angrily muttered about indemnity, costs, reimbursement.
At last Charles reached his wife, saying to her, quite out of breath--
"Ma foi! I thought I should have had to stay there. There is such a
crowd--SUCH a crowd!"
"Just guess whom I met up there! Monsieur Leon!"
"Himself! He's coming along to pay his respects." And as he finished
these words the ex-clerk of Yonville entered the box.
He held out his hand with the ease of a gentleman; and Madame Bovary
extended hers, without doubt obeying the attraction of a stronger will.
She had not felt it since that spring evening when the rain fell upon
the green leaves, and they had said good-bye standing at the window.
But soon recalling herself to the necessities of the situation, with an
effort she shook off the torpor of her memories, and began stammering a
few hurried words.
"Ah, good-day! What! you here?"
"Silence!" cried a voice from the pit, for the third act was beginning.
"So you are at Rouen?"
"And since when?"
"Turn them out! turn them out!" People were looking at them. They were
But from that moment she listened no more; and the chorus of the guests,
the scene between Ashton and his servant, the grand duet in D major, all
and the characters more remote. She remembered the games at cards at the
druggist's, and the walk to the nurse's, the reading in the arbour,
the tete-a-tete by the fireside--all that poor love, so calm and so
protracted, so discreet, so tender, and that she had nevertheless
forgotten. And why had he come back? What combination of circumstances
had brought him back into her life? He was standing behind her, leaning
with his shoulder against the wall of the box; now and again she felt
herself shuddering beneath the hot breath from his nostrils falling upon
"Does this amuse you?" said he, bending over her so closely that the end
of his moustache brushed her cheek. She replied carelessly--
"Oh, dear me, no, not much."
Then he proposed that they should leave the theatre and go and take an
"Oh, not yet; let us stay," said Bovary. "Her hair's undone; this is
going to be tragic."
But the mad scene did not at all interest Emma, and the acting of the
singer seemed to her exaggerated.
"She screams too loud," said she, turning to Charles, who was listening.
"Yes--a little," he replied, undecided between the frankness of his
pleasure and his respect for his wife's opinion.
Then with a sigh Leon said--
"The heat is--"
"Do you feel unwell?" asked Bovary.
"Yes, I am stifling; let us go."
Monsieur Leon put her long lace shawl carefully about her shoulders, and
all three went off to sit down in the harbour, in the open air, outside
the windows of a cafe.
First they spoke of her illness, although Emma interrupted Charles
from time to time, for fear, she said, of boring Monsieur Leon; and the
latter told them that he had come to spend two years at Rouen in a large
office, in order to get practice in his profession, which was different
in Normandy and Paris. Then he inquired after Berthe, the Homais, Mere
Lefrancois, and as they had, in the husband's presence, nothing more to
say to one another, the conversation soon came to an end.
People coming out of the theatre passed along the pavement, humming or