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,"
"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--
"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
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
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
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
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--"
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