Madame bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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her hair.

"Yes, that is true," she said. "I am mad. Kiss me!"
To her husband she was more charming than ever. She made him

pistachio-creams, and played him waltzes after dinner. So he thought

himself the most fortunate of men and Emma was without uneasiness, when,

one evening suddenly he said--

"It is Mademoiselle Lempereur, isn't it, who gives you lessons?"
"Well, I saw her just now," Charles went on, "at Madame Liegeard's. I

spoke to her about you, and she doesn't know you."

This was like a thunderclap. However, she replied quite naturally--
"Ah! no doubt she forgot my name."
"But perhaps," said the doctor, "there are several Demoiselles Lempereur

at Rouen who are music-mistresses."

"Possibly!" Then quickly--"But I have my receipts here. See!"
And she went to the writing-table, ransacked all the drawers, rummaged

the papers, and at last lost her head so completely that Charles

earnestly begged her not to take so much trouble about those wretched


"Oh, I will find them," she said.
And, in fact, on the following Friday, as Charles was putting on one

of his boots in the dark cabinet where his clothes were kept, he felt

a piece of paper between the leather and his sock. He took it out and

"Received, for three months' lessons and several pieces of music, the

sum of sixty-three francs.--Felicie Lempereur, professor of music."
"How the devil did it get into my boots?"
"It must," she replied, "have fallen from the old box of bills that is

on the edge of the shelf."

From that moment her existence was but one long tissue of lies, in which

she enveloped her love as in veils to hide it. It was a want, a mania,

a pleasure carried to such an extent that if she said she had the day

before walked on the right side of a road, one might know she had taken

the left.
One morning, when she had gone, as usual, rather lightly clothed, it

suddenly began to snow, and as Charles was watching the weather from the

window, he caught sight of Monsieur Bournisien in the chaise of Monsieur

Tuvache, who was driving him to Rouen. Then he went down to give the

priest a thick shawl that he was to hand over to Emma as soon as he

reached the "Croix-Rouge." When he got to the inn, Monsieur Bournisien

asked for the wife of the Yonville doctor. The landlady replied that

she very rarely came to her establishment. So that evening, when he

recognised Madame Bovary in the "Hirondelle," the cure told her his

dilemma, without, however, appearing to attach much importance to it,

for he began praising a preacher who was doing wonders at the Cathedral,

and whom all the ladies were rushing to hear.

Still, if he did not ask for any explanation, others, later on, might

prove less discreet. So she thought well to get down each time at the

"Croix-Rouge," so that the good folk of her village who saw her on the

stairs should suspect nothing.

One day, however, Monsieur Lheureux met her coming out of the Hotel

de Boulogne on Leon's arm; and she was frightened, thinking he would

gossip. He was not such a fool. But three days after he came to her

room, shut the door, and said, "I must have some money."

She declared she could not give him any. Lheureux burst into

lamentations and reminded her of all the kindnesses he had shown her.

In fact, of the two bills signed by Charles, Emma up to the present had

paid only one. As to the second, the shopkeeper, at her request, had

consented to replace it by another, which again had been renewed for a

long date. Then he drew from his pocket a list of goods not paid for; to

wit, the curtains, the carpet, the material for the armchairs, several

dresses, and divers articles of dress, the bills for which amounted to

about two thousand francs.
She bowed her head. He went on--
"But if you haven't any ready money, you have an estate." And he

reminded her of a miserable little hovel situated at Barneville, near

Aumale, that brought in almost nothing. It had formerly been part of a

small farm sold by Monsieur Bovary senior; for Lheureux knew everything,

even to the number of acres and the names of the neighbours.
"If I were in your place," he said, "I should clear myself of my debts,

and have money left over."

She pointed out the difficulty of getting a purchaser. He held out the

hope of finding one; but she asked him how she should manage to sell it.

"Haven't you your power of attorney?" he replied.
The phrase came to her like a breath of fresh air. "Leave me the bill,"

said Emma.

"Oh, it isn't worth while," answered Lheureux.
He came back the following week and boasted of having, after much

trouble, at last discovered a certain Langlois, who, for a long time,

had had an eye on the property, but without mentioning his price.
"Never mind the price!" she cried.
But they would, on the contrary, have to wait, to sound the fellow.

The thing was worth a journey, and, as she could not undertake it, he

offered to go to the place to have an interview with Langlois. On his

return he announced that the purchaser proposed four thousand francs.

Emma was radiant at this news.
"Frankly," he added, "that's a good price."
She drew half the sum at once, and when she was about to pay her account

the shopkeeper said--

"It really grieves me, on my word! to see you depriving yourself all at

once of such a big sum as that."

Then she looked at the bank-notes, and dreaming of the unlimited number

of rendezvous represented by those two thousand francs, she stammered--

"What! what!"
"Oh!" he went on, laughing good-naturedly, "one puts anything one likes

on receipts. Don't you think I know what household affairs are?" And he

looked at her fixedly, while in his hand he held two long papers that he

slid between his nails. At last, opening his pocket-book, he spread out

on the table four bills to order, each for a thousand francs.
"Sign these," he said, "and keep it all!"
She cried out, scandalised.
"But if I give you the surplus," replied Monsieur Lheureux impudently,

"is that not helping you?"

And taking a pen he wrote at the bottom of the account, "Received of

Madame Bovary four thousand francs."

"Now who can trouble you, since in six months you'll draw the arrears

for your cottage, and I don't make the last bill due till after you've

been paid?"
Emma grew rather confused in her calculations, and her ears tingled

as if gold pieces, bursting from their bags, rang all round her on

the floor. At last Lheureux explained that he had a very good friend,

Vincart, a broker at Rouen, who would discount these four bills. Then

he himself would hand over to madame the remainder after the actual debt

was paid.

But instead of two thousand francs he brought only eighteen hundred, for

the friend Vincart (which was only fair) had deducted two hundred francs

for commission and discount. Then he carelessly asked for a receipt.
"You understand--in business--sometimes. And with the date, if you

please, with the date."

A horizon of realisable whims opened out before Emma. She was prudent

enough to lay by a thousand crowns, with which the first three bills

were paid when they fell due; but the fourth, by chance, came to the

house on a Thursday, and Charles, quite upset, patiently awaited his

wife's return for an explanation.
If she had not told him about this bill, it was only to spare him such

domestic worries; she sat on his knees, caressed him, cooed to him, gave

him a long enumeration of all the indispensable things that had been got

on credit.

"Really, you must confess, considering the quantity, it isn't too dear."
Charles, at his wit's end, soon had recourse to the eternal Lheureux,

who swore he would arrange matters if the doctor would sign him two

bills, one of which was for seven hundred francs, payable in three

months. In order to arrange for this he wrote his mother a pathetic

letter. Instead of sending a reply she came herself; and when Emma

wanted to know whether he had got anything out of her, "Yes," he

replied; "but she wants to see the account." The next morning at

daybreak Emma ran to Lheureux to beg him to make out another account for

not more than a thousand francs, for to show the one for four thousand

it would be necessary to say that she had paid two-thirds, and confess,

consequently, the sale of the estate--a negotiation admirably carried

out by the shopkeeper, and which, in fact, was only actually known later

Despite the low price of each article, Madame Bovary senior, of course,

thought the expenditure extravagant.

"Couldn't you do without a carpet? Why have recovered the arm-chairs? In

my time there was a single arm-chair in a house, for elderly persons--at

any rate it was so at my mother's, who was a good woman, I can tell you.

Everybody can't be rich! No fortune can hold out against waste! I should

be ashamed to coddle myself as you do! And yet I am old. I need looking

after. And there! there! fitting up gowns! fallals! What! silk for

lining at two francs, when you can get jaconet for ten sous, or even for

eight, that would do well enough!"

Emma, lying on a lounge, replied as quietly as possible--"Ah! Madame,

enough! enough!"

The other went on lecturing her, predicting they would end in the

workhouse. But it was Bovary's fault. Luckily he had promised to destroy

that power of attorney.
"Ah! he swore he would," went on the good woman.
Emma opened the window, called Charles, and the poor fellow was obliged

to confess the promise torn from him by his mother.

Emma disappeared, then came back quickly, and majestically handed her a

thick piece of paper.

"Thank you," said the old woman. And she threw the power of attorney

into the fire.

Emma began to laugh, a strident, piercing, continuous laugh; she had an

attack of hysterics.

"Oh, my God!" cried Charles. "Ah! you really are wrong! You come here

and make scenes with her!"

His mother, shrugging her shoulders, declared it was "all put on."
But Charles, rebelling for the first time, took his wife's part, so that

Madame Bovary, senior, said she would leave. She went the very next day,

and on the threshold, as he was trying to detain her, she replied--
"No, no! You love her better than me, and you are right. It is natural.

For the rest, so much the worse! You will see. Good day--for I am not

likely to come soon again, as you say, to make scenes."
Charles nevertheless was very crestfallen before Emma, who did not hide

the resentment she still felt at his want of confidence, and it needed

many prayers before she would consent to have another power of attorney.

He even accompanied her to Monsieur Guillaumin to have a second one,

just like the other, drawn up.
"I understand," said the notary; "a man of science can't be worried with

the practical details of life."

And Charles felt relieved by this comfortable reflection, which gave his

weakness the flattering appearance of higher pre-occupation.

And what an outburst the next Thursday at the hotel in their room with

Leon! She laughed, cried, sang, sent for sherbets, wanted to smoke

cigarettes, seemed to him wild and extravagant, but adorable, superb.
He did not know what recreation of her whole being drove her more and

more to plunge into the pleasures of life. She was becoming irritable,

greedy, voluptuous; and she walked about the streets with him carrying

her head high, without fear, so she said, of compromising herself.

At times, however, Emma shuddered at the sudden thought of meeting

Rodolphe, for it seemed to her that, although they were separated

forever, she was not completely free from her subjugation to him.
One night she did not return to Yonville at all. Charles lost his head

with anxiety, and little Berthe would not go to bed without her mamma,

and sobbed enough to break her heart. Justin had gone out searching the

road at random. Monsieur Homais even had left his pharmacy.

At last, at eleven o'clock, able to bear it no longer, Charles

harnessed his chaise, jumped in, whipped up his horse, and reached the

"Croix-Rouge" about two o'clock in the morning. No one there! He thought

that the clerk had perhaps seen her; but where did he live? Happily,

Charles remembered his employer's address, and rushed off there.
Day was breaking, and he could distinguish the escutcheons over the

door, and knocked. Someone, without opening the door, shouted out the

required information, adding a few insults to those who disturb people

in the middle of the night.

The house inhabited by the clerk had neither bell, knocker, nor porter.

Charles knocked loudly at the shutters with his hands. A policeman

happened to pass by. Then he was frightened, and went away.
"I am mad," he said; "no doubt they kept her to dinner at Monsieur

Lormeaux'." But the Lormeaux no longer lived at Rouen.

"She probably stayed to look after Madame Dubreuil. Why, Madame Dubreuil

has been dead these ten months! Where can she be?"

An idea occurred to him. At a cafe he asked for a Directory, and

hurriedly looked for the name of Mademoiselle Lempereur, who lived at

No. 74 Rue de la Renelle-des-Maroquiniers.
As he was turning into the street, Emma herself appeared at the other

end of it. He threw himself upon her rather than embraced her, crying--

"What kept you yesterday?"
"I was not well."
"What was it? Where? How?"
She passed her hand over her forehead and answered, "At Mademoiselle


"I was sure of it! I was going there."
"Oh, it isn't worth while," said Emma. "She went out just now; but for

the future don't worry. I do not feel free, you see, if I know that the

least delay upsets you like this."
This was a sort of permission that she gave herself, so as to get

perfect freedom in her escapades. And she profited by it freely, fully.

When she was seized with the desire to see Leon, she set out upon any

pretext; and as he was not expecting her on that day, she went to fetch

him at his office.
It was a great delight at first, but soon he no longer concealed the

truth, which was, that his master complained very much about these

"Pshaw! come along," she said.
And he slipped out.
She wanted him to dress all in black, and grow a pointed beard, to

look like the portraits of Louis XIII. She wanted to see his lodgings;

thought them poor. He blushed at them, but she did not notice this, then

advised him to buy some curtains like hers, and as he objected to the

"Ah! ah! you care for your money," she said laughing.
Each time Leon had to tell her everything that he had done since their

last meeting. She asked him for some verses--some verses "for herself,"

a "love poem" in honour of her. But he never succeeded in getting a

rhyme for the second verse; and at last ended by copying a sonnet in

a "Keepsake." This was less from vanity than from the one desire of

pleasing her. He did not question her ideas; he accepted all her tastes;

he was rather becoming her mistress than she his. She had tender words

and kisses that thrilled his soul. Where could she have learnt this

corruption almost incorporeal in the strength of its profanity and


Chapter Six

During the journeys he made to see her, Leon had often dined at the

chemist's, and he felt obliged from politeness to invite him in turn.

"With pleasure!" Monsieur Homais replied; "besides, I must invigorate

my mind, for I am getting rusty here. We'll go to the theatre, to the

restaurant; we'll make a night of it."
"Oh, my dear!" tenderly murmured Madame Homais, alarmed at the vague

perils he was preparing to brave.

"Well, what? Do you think I'm not sufficiently ruining my health living

here amid the continual emanations of the pharmacy? But there! that is

the way with women! They are jealous of science, and then are opposed to

our taking the most legitimate distractions. No matter! Count upon

me. One of these days I shall turn up at Rouen, and we'll go the pace


The druggist would formerly have taken good care not to use such an

expression, but he was cultivating a gay Parisian style, which he

thought in the best taste; and, like his neighbour, Madame Bovary, he

questioned the clerk curiously about the customs of the capital; he

even talked slang to dazzle the bourgeois, saying bender, crummy, dandy,

macaroni, the cheese, cut my stick and "I'll hook it," for "I am going."

So one Thursday Emma was surprised to meet Monsieur Homais in the

kitchen of the "Lion d'Or," wearing a traveller's costume, that is to

say, wrapped in an old cloak which no one knew he had, while he carried

a valise in one hand and the foot-warmer of his establishment in the

other. He had confided his intentions to no one, for fear of causing the

public anxiety by his absence.

The idea of seeing again the place where his youth had been spent no

doubt excited him, for during the whole journey he never ceased talking,

and as soon as he had arrived, he jumped quickly out of the diligence

to go in search of Leon. In vain the clerk tried to get rid of him.

Monsieur Homais dragged him off to the large Cafe de la Normandie,

which he entered majestically, not raising his hat, thinking it very

provincial to uncover in any public place.
Emma waited for Leon three quarters of an hour. At last she ran to

his office; and, lost in all sorts of conjectures, accusing him of

indifference, and reproaching herself for her weakness, she spent the

afternoon, her face pressed against the window-panes.

At two o'clock they were still at a table opposite each other. The large

room was emptying; the stove-pipe, in the shape of a palm-tree, spread

its gilt leaves over the white ceiling, and near them, outside the

window, in the bright sunshine, a little fountain gurgled in a white

basin, where; in the midst of watercress and asparagus, three torpid

lobsters stretched across to some quails that lay heaped up in a pile on

their sides.
Homais was enjoying himself. Although he was even more intoxicated with

the luxury than the rich fare, the Pommard wine all the same rather

excited his faculties; and when the omelette au rhum* appeared, he began

propounding immoral theories about women. What seduced him above all

else was chic. He admired an elegant toilette in a well-furnished

apartment, and as to bodily qualities, he didn't dislike a young girl.

* In rum.

Leon watched the clock in despair. The druggist went on drinking,

eating, and talking.
"You must be very lonely," he said suddenly, "here at Rouen. To be sure

your lady-love doesn't live far away."

And the other blushed--
"Come now, be frank. Can you deny that at Yonville--"
The young man stammered something.
"At Madame Bovary's, you're not making love to--"
"To whom?"
"The servant!"
He was not joking; but vanity getting the better of all prudence, Leon,

in spite of himself protested. Besides, he only liked dark women.

"I approve of that," said the chemist; "they have more passion."
And whispering into his friend's ear, he pointed out the symptoms by

which one could find out if a woman had passion. He even launched into

an ethnographic digression: the German was vapourish, the French woman

licentious, the Italian passionate.

"And negresses?" asked the clerk.
"They are an artistic taste!" said Homais. "Waiter! two cups of coffee!"
"Are we going?" at last asked Leon impatiently.
But before leaving he wanted to see the proprietor of the establishment

and made him a few compliments. Then the young man, to be alone, alleged

he had some business engagement.
"Ah! I will escort you," said Homais.
And all the while he was walking through the streets with him he talked

of his wife, his children; of their future, and of his business; told

him in what a decayed condition it had formerly been, and to what a

degree of perfection he had raised it.

Arrived in front of the Hotel de Boulogne, Leon left him abruptly, ran

up the stairs, and found his mistress in great excitement. At mention of

the chemist she flew into a passion. He, however, piled up good reasons;

it wasn't his fault; didn't she know Homais--did she believe that he

would prefer his company? But she turned away; he drew her back, and,

sinking on his knees, clasped her waist with his arms in a languorous

pose, full of concupiscence and supplication.
She was standing up, her large flashing eyes looked at him seriously,

almost terribly. Then tears obscured them, her red eyelids were lowered,

she gave him her hands, and Leon was pressing them to his lips when a

servant appeared to tell the gentleman that he was wanted.

"You will come back?" she said.
"But when?"
"It's a trick," said the chemist, when he saw Leon. "I wanted to

interrupt this visit, that seemed to me to annoy you. Let's go and have

a glass of garus at Bridoux'."
Leon vowed that he must get back to his office. Then the druggist joked

him about quill-drivers and the law.

"Leave Cujas and Barthole alone a bit. Who the devil prevents you? Be a

man! Let's go to Bridoux'. You'll see his dog. It's very interesting."

And as the clerk still insisted--
"I'll go with you. I'll read a paper while I wait for you, or turn over

the leaves of a 'Code.'"

Leon, bewildered by Emma's anger, Monsieur Homais' chatter, and,

perhaps, by the heaviness of the luncheon, was undecided, and, as it

were, fascinated by the chemist, who kept repeating--
"Let's go to Bridoux'. It's just by here, in the Rue Malpalu."
Then, through cowardice, through stupidity, through that indefinable

feeling that drags us into the most distasteful acts, he allowed

himself to be led off to Bridoux', whom they found in his small yard,

superintending three workmen, who panted as they turned the large

wheel of a machine for making seltzer-water. Homais gave them some good

advice. He embraced Bridoux; they took some garus. Twenty times Leon

tried to escape, but the other seized him by the arm saying--
"Presently! I'm coming! We'll go to the 'Fanal de Rouen' to see the

fellows there. I'll introduce you to Thornassin."

At last he managed to get rid of him, and rushed straight to the hotel.

Emma was no longer there. She had just gone in a fit of anger. She

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