Emma lived all absorbed in hers, and troubled no more about money
matters than an archduchess.
Once, however, a wretched-looking man, rubicund and bald, came to her
house, saying he had been sent by Monsieur Vincart of Rouen. He took out
the pins that held together the side-pockets of his long green overcoat,
stuck them into his sleeve, and politely handed her a paper.
It was a bill for seven hundred francs, signed by her, and which
Lheureux, in spite of all his professions, had paid away to Vincart. She
sent her servant for him. He could not come. Then the stranger, who
had remained standing, casting right and left curious glances, that his
thick, fair eyebrows hid, asked with a naive air--
"What answer am I to take Monsieur Vincart?"
"Oh," said Emma, "tell him that I haven't it. I will send next week; he
must wait; yes, till next week."
And the fellow went without another word.
But the next day at twelve o'clock she received a summons, and the sight
of the stamped paper, on which appeared several times in large letters,
"Maitre Hareng, bailiff at Buchy," so frightened her that she rushed in
hot haste to the linendraper's. She found him in his shop, doing up a
"Your obedient!" he said; "I am at your service."
But Lheureux, all the same, went on with his work, helped by a young
girl of about thirteen, somewhat hunch-backed, who was at once his clerk
and his servant.
Then, his clogs clattering on the shop-boards, he went up in front
of Madame Bovary to the first door, and introduced her into a narrow
closet, where, in a large bureau in sapon-wood, lay some ledgers,
protected by a horizontal padlocked iron bar. Against the wall, under
some remnants of calico, one glimpsed a safe, but of such dimensions
that it must contain something besides bills and money. Monsieur
Lheureux, in fact, went in for pawnbroking, and it was there that he had
put Madame Bovary's gold chain, together with the earrings of poor old
Tellier, who, at last forced to sell out, had bought a meagre store
of grocery at Quincampoix, where he was dying of catarrh amongst his
candles, that were less yellow than his face.
Lheureux sat down in a large cane arm-chair, saying: "What news?"
And she showed him the paper.
"Well how can I help it?"
Then she grew angry, reminding him of the promise he had given not to
pay away her bills. He acknowledged it.
"But I was pressed myself; the knife was at my own throat."
"And what will happen now?" she went on.
"Oh, it's very simple; a judgment and then a distraint--that's about
Emma kept down a desire to strike him, and asked gently if there was no
way of quieting Monsieur Vincart.
"I dare say! Quiet Vincart! You don't know him; he's more ferocious than
Still Monsieur Lheureux must interfere.
"Well, listen. It seems to me so far I've been very good to you." And
opening one of his ledgers, "See," he said. Then running up the page
with his finger, "Let's see! let's see! August 3d, two hundred francs;
June 17th, a hundred and fifty; March 23d, forty-six. In April--"
He stopped, as if afraid of making some mistake.
"Not to speak of the bills signed by Monsieur Bovary, one for seven
hundred francs, and another for three hundred. As to your little
installments, with the interest, why, there's no end to 'em; one gets
quite muddled over 'em. I'll have nothing more to do with it."
She wept; she even called him "her good Monsieur Lheureux." But he
always fell back upon "that rascal Vincart." Besides, he hadn't a brass
farthing; no one was paying him now-a-days; they were eating his coat
off his back; a poor shopkeeper like him couldn't advance money.
Emma was silent, and Monsieur Lheureux, who was biting the feathers of a
quill, no doubt became uneasy at her silence, for he went on--
"Unless one of these days I have something coming in, I might--"
"Besides," said she, "as soon as the balance of Barneville--"
And on hearing that Langlois had not yet paid he seemed much surprised.
Then in a honied voice--
"And we agree, you say?"
"Oh! to anything you like."
On this he closed his eyes to reflect, wrote down a few figures, and
declaring it would be very difficult for him, that the affair was shady,
and that he was being bled, he wrote out four bills for two hundred and
fifty francs each, to fall due month by month.
"Provided that Vincart will listen to me! However, it's settled. I don't
play the fool; I'm straight enough."
Next he carelessly showed her several new goods, not one of which,
however, was in his opinion worthy of madame.
"When I think that there's a dress at threepence-halfpenny a yard, and
warranted fast colours! And yet they actually swallow it! Of course you
Faubourg, as far as an open street that overlooked some gardens. She
walked rapidly; the fresh air calming her; and, little by little, the
faces of the crowd, the masks, the quadrilles, the lights, the supper,
those women, all disappeared like mists fading away. Then, reaching the
"Croix-Rouge," she threw herself on the bed in her little room on the
second floor, where there were pictures of the "Tour de Nesle." At four
o'clock Hivert awoke her.
When she got home, Felicite showed her behind the clock a grey paper.
"In virtue of the seizure in execution of a judgment."
What judgment? As a matter of fact, the evening before another paper
had been brought that she had not yet seen, and she was stunned by these
"By order of the king, law, and justice, to Madame Bovary." Then,
skipping several lines, she read, "Within twenty-four hours, without
fail--" But what? "To pay the sum of eight thousand francs." And there
was even at the bottom, "She will be constrained thereto by every
form of law, and notably by a writ of distraint on her furniture and
What was to be done? In twenty-four hours--tomorrow. Lheureux, she
thought, wanted to frighten her again; for she saw through all his
devices, the object of his kindnesses. What reassured her was the very
magnitude of the sum.
However, by dint of buying and not paying, of borrowing, signing bills,
and renewing these bills that grew at each new falling-in, she had ended
by preparing a capital for Monsieur Lheureux which he was impatiently
awaiting for his speculations.
She presented herself at his place with an offhand air.
"You know what has happened to me? No doubt it's a joke!"
He turned away slowly, and, folding his arms, said to her--
"My good lady, did you think I should go on to all eternity being your
purveyor and banker, for the love of God? Now be just. I must get back
what I've laid out. Now be just."
She cried out against the debt.
"Ah! so much the worse. The court has admitted it. There's a judgment.
It's been notified to you. Besides, it isn't my fault. It's Vincart's."