Madame bovary by Gustave Flaubert



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insulting one another when Charles suddenly reappeared. A fascination

drew him. He was continually coming upstairs.
He stood opposite her, the better to see her, and he lost himself in a

contemplation so deep that it was no longer painful.


He recalled stories of catalepsy, the marvels of magnetism, and he

said to himself that by willing it with all his force he might perhaps

succeed in reviving her. Once he even bent towards he, and cried in a

low voice, "Emma! Emma!" His strong breathing made the flames of the

candles tremble against the wall.
At daybreak Madame Bovary senior arrived. Charles as he embraced her

burst into another flood of tears. She tried, as the chemist had done,

to make some remarks to him on the expenses of the funeral. He became so

angry that she was silent, and he even commissioned her to go to town at

once and buy what was necessary.
Charles remained alone the whole afternoon; they had taken Berthe

to Madame Homais'; Felicite was in the room upstairs with Madame

Lefrancois.
In the evening he had some visitors. He rose, pressed their hands,

unable to speak. Then they sat down near one another, and formed a large

semicircle in front of the fire. With lowered faces, and swinging one

leg crossed over the other knee, they uttered deep sighs at intervals;

each one was inordinately bored, and yet none would be the first to go.
Homais, when he returned at nine o'clock (for the last two days only

Homais seemed to have been on the Place), was laden with a stock of

camphor, of benzine, and aromatic herbs. He also carried a large jar

full of chlorine water, to keep off all miasmata. Just then the servant,

Madame Lefrancois, and Madame Bovary senior were busy about Emma,

finishing dressing her, and they were drawing down the long stiff veil

that covered her to her satin shoes.
Felicite was sobbing--"Ah! my poor mistress! my poor mistress!"
"Look at her," said the landlady, sighing; "how pretty she still is!

Now, couldn't you swear she was going to get up in a minute?"


Then they bent over her to put on her wreath. They had to raise the head

a little, and a rush of black liquid issued, as if she were vomiting,

from her mouth.
"Oh, goodness! The dress; take care!" cried Madame Lefrancois. "Now,

just come and help," she said to the chemist. "Perhaps you're afraid?"


"I afraid?" replied he, shrugging his shoulders. "I dare say! I've seen

all sorts of things at the hospital when I was studying pharmacy. We

used to make punch in the dissecting room! Nothingness does not terrify

a philosopher; and, as I often say, I even intend to leave my body to

the hospitals, in order, later on, to serve science."
The cure on his arrival inquired how Monsieur Bovary was, and, on

the reply of the druggist, went on--"The blow, you see, is still too

recent."
Then Homais congratulated him on not being exposed, like other people,

to the loss of a beloved companion; whence there followed a discussion

on the celibacy of priests.
"For," said the chemist, "it is unnatural that a man should do without

women! There have been crimes--"


"But, good heaven!" cried the ecclesiastic, "how do you expect an

individual who is married to keep the secrets of the confessional, for

example?"
Homais fell foul of the confessional. Bournisien defended it; he

enlarged on the acts of restitution that it brought about. He cited

various anecdotes about thieves who had suddenly become honest. Military

men on approaching the tribunal of penitence had felt the scales fall

from their eyes. At Fribourg there was a minister--
His companion was asleep. Then he felt somewhat stifled by the

over-heavy atmosphere of the room; he opened the window; this awoke the

chemist.
"Come, take a pinch of snuff," he said to him. "Take it; it'll relieve

you."
A continual barking was heard in the distance. "Do you hear that dog

howling?" said the chemist.
"They smell the dead," replied the priest. "It's like bees; they leave

their hives on the decease of any person."


Homais made no remark upon these prejudices, for he had again dropped

asleep. Monsieur Bournisien, stronger than he, went on moving his lips

gently for some time, then insensibly his chin sank down, he let fall

his big black boot, and began to snore.


They sat opposite one another, with protruding stomachs, puffed-up

faces, and frowning looks, after so much disagreement uniting at last in

the same human weakness, and they moved no more than the corpse by their

side, that seemed to be sleeping.


Charles coming in did not wake them. It was the last time; he came to

bid her farewell.


The aromatic herbs were still smoking, and spirals of bluish vapour

blended at the window-sash with the fog that was coming in. There were

few stars, and the night was warm. The wax of the candles fell in great

drops upon the sheets of the bed. Charles watched them burn, tiring his

eyes against the glare of their yellow flame.
The watering on the satin gown shimmered white as moonlight. Emma was

lost beneath it; and it seemed to him that, spreading beyond her own

self, she blended confusedly with everything around her--the silence,

the night, the passing wind, the damp odours rising from the ground.


Then suddenly he saw her in the garden at Tostes, on a bench against the

thorn hedge, or else at Rouen in the streets, on the threshold of their

house, in the yard at Bertaux. He again heard the laughter of the happy

boys beneath the apple-trees: the room was filled with the perfume

of her hair; and her dress rustled in his arms with a noise like

electricity. The dress was still the same.


For a long while he thus recalled all his lost joys, her attitudes,

her movements, the sound of her voice. Upon one fit of despair followed

another, and even others, inexhaustible as the waves of an overflowing

sea.
A terrible curiosity seized him. Slowly, with the tips of his fingers,

palpitating, he lifted her veil. But he uttered a cry of horror that

awoke the other two.


They dragged him down into the sitting-room. Then Felicite came up to

say that he wanted some of her hair.


"Cut some off," replied the druggist.
And as she did not dare to, he himself stepped forward, scissors in

hand. He trembled so that he pierced the skin of the temple in several

places. At last, stiffening himself against emotion, Homais gave two

or three great cuts at random that left white patches amongst that

beautiful black hair.
The chemist and the cure plunged anew into their occupations, not

without sleeping from time to time, of which they accused each other

reciprocally at each fresh awakening. Then Monsieur Bournisien sprinkled

the room with holy water and Homais threw a little chlorine water on the

floor.
Felicite had taken care to put on the chest of drawers, for each

of them, a bottle of brandy, some cheese, and a large roll. And the

druggist, who could not hold out any longer, about four in the morning

sighed--
"My word! I should like to take some sustenance."


The priest did not need any persuading; he went out to go and say mass,

came back, and then they ate and hobnobbed, giggling a little without

knowing why, stimulated by that vague gaiety that comes upon us after

times of sadness, and at the last glass the priest said to the druggist,

as he clapped him on the shoulder--
"We shall end by understanding one another."
In the passage downstairs they met the undertaker's men, who were coming

in. Then Charles for two hours had to suffer the torture of hearing the

hammer resound against the wood. Next day they lowered her into her

oak coffin, that was fitted into the other two; but as the bier was

too large, they had to fill up the gaps with the wool of a mattress. At

last, when the three lids had been planed down, nailed, soldered, it was

placed outside in front of the door; the house was thrown open, and the

people of Yonville began to flock round.


Old Rouault arrived, and fainted on the Place when he saw the black

cloth!

Chapter Ten
He had only received the chemist's letter thirty-six hours after the

event; and, from consideration for his feelings, Homais had so worded it

that it was impossible to make out what it was all about.
First, the old fellow had fallen as if struck by apoplexy. Next, he

understood that she was not dead, but she might be. At last, he had put

on his blouse, taken his hat, fastened his spurs to his boots, and set

out at full speed; and the whole of the way old Rouault, panting, was

torn by anguish. Once even he was obliged to dismount. He was dizzy; he

heard voices round about him; he felt himself going mad.


Day broke. He saw three black hens asleep in a tree. He shuddered,

horrified at this omen. Then he promised the Holy Virgin three chasubles

for the church, and that he would go barefooted from the cemetery at

Bertaux to the chapel of Vassonville.


He entered Maromme shouting for the people of the inn, burst open the

door with a thrust of his shoulder, made for a sack of oats, emptied a

bottle of sweet cider into the manger, and again mounted his nag, whose

feet struck fire as it dashed along.


He said to himself that no doubt they would save her; the doctors would

discover some remedy surely. He remembered all the miraculous cures

he had been told about. Then she appeared to him dead. She was there;

before his eyes, lying on her back in the middle of the road. He reined

up, and the hallucination disappeared.
At Quincampoix, to give himself heart, he drank three cups of coffee

one after the other. He fancied they had made a mistake in the name in

writing. He looked for the letter in his pocket, felt it there, but did

not dare to open it.


At last he began to think it was all a joke; someone's spite, the jest

of some wag; and besides, if she were dead, one would have known it. But

no! There was nothing extraordinary about the country; the sky was blue,

the trees swayed; a flock of sheep passed. He saw the village; he was

seen coming bending forward upon his horse, belabouring it with great

blows, the girths dripping with blood.


When he had recovered consciousness, he fell, weeping, into Bovary's

arms: "My girl! Emma! my child! tell me--"


The other replied, sobbing, "I don't know! I don't know! It's a curse!"
The druggist separated them. "These horrible details are useless. I will

tell this gentleman all about it. Here are the people coming. Dignity!

Come now! Philosophy!"
The poor fellow tried to show himself brave, and repeated several times.

"Yes! courage!"


"Oh," cried the old man, "so I will have, by God! I'll go along o' her

to the end!"


The bell began tolling. All was ready; they had to start. And seated in

a stall of the choir, side by side, they saw pass and repass in front of

them continually the three chanting choristers.
The serpent-player was blowing with all his might. Monsieur Bournisien,

in full vestments, was singing in a shrill voice. He bowed before the

tabernacle, raising his hands, stretched out his arms. Lestiboudois

went about the church with his whalebone stick. The bier stood near the

lectern, between four rows of candles. Charles felt inclined to get up

and put them out.


Yet he tried to stir himself to a feeling of devotion, to throw himself

into the hope of a future life in which he should see her again. He

imagined to himself she had gone on a long journey, far away, for a long

time. But when he thought of her lying there, and that all was over,

that they would lay her in the earth, he was seized with a fierce,

gloomy, despairful rage. At times he thought he felt nothing more, and

he enjoyed this lull in his pain, whilst at the same time he reproached

himself for being a wretch.


The sharp noise of an iron-ferruled stick was heard on the stones,

striking them at irregular intervals. It came from the end of the

church, and stopped short at the lower aisles. A man in a coarse brown

jacket knelt down painfully. It was Hippolyte, the stable-boy at the

"Lion d'Or." He had put on his new leg.
One of the choristers went round the nave making a collection, and the

coppers chinked one after the other on the silver plate.


"Oh, make haste! I am in pain!" cried Bovary, angrily throwing him a

five-franc piece. The churchman thanked him with a deep bow.


They sang, they knelt, they stood up; it was endless! He remembered that

once, in the early times, they had been to mass together, and they had

sat down on the other side, on the right, by the wall. The bell began

again. There was a great moving of chairs; the bearers slipped their

three staves under the coffin, and everyone left the church.
Then Justin appeared at the door of the shop. He suddenly went in again,

pale, staggering.


People were at the windows to see the procession pass. Charles at the

head walked erect. He affected a brave air, and saluted with a nod those

who, coming out from the lanes or from their doors, stood amidst the

crowd.
The six men, three on either side, walked slowly, panting a little.

The priests, the choristers, and the two choirboys recited the De

profundis*, and their voices echoed over the fields, rising and falling

with their undulations. Sometimes they disappeared in the windings of

the path; but the great silver cross rose always before the trees.


*Psalm CXXX.

The women followed in black cloaks with turned-down hoods; each of them

carried in her hands a large lighted candle, and Charles felt himself

growing weaker at this continual repetition of prayers and torches,

beneath this oppressive odour of wax and of cassocks. A fresh breeze was

blowing; the rye and colza were sprouting, little dewdrops trembled at

the roadsides and on the hawthorn hedges. All sorts of joyous sounds

filled the air; the jolting of a cart rolling afar off in the ruts, the

crowing of a cock, repeated again and again, or the gambling of a foal

running away under the apple-trees: The pure sky was fretted with rosy

clouds; a bluish haze rested upon the cots covered with iris. Charles as

he passed recognised each courtyard. He remembered mornings like this,

when, after visiting some patient, he came out from one and returned to

her.
The black cloth bestrewn with white beads blew up from time to time,

laying bare the coffin. The tired bearers walked more slowly, and it

advanced with constant jerks, like a boat that pitches with every wave.


They reached the cemetery. The men went right down to a place in the

grass where a grave was dug. They ranged themselves all round; and while

the priest spoke, the red soil thrown up at the sides kept noiselessly

slipping down at the corners.


Then when the four ropes were arranged the coffin was placed upon them.

He watched it descend; it seemed descending for ever. At last a thud was

heard; the ropes creaked as they were drawn up. Then Bournisien took

the spade handed to him by Lestiboudois; with his left hand all the

time sprinkling water, with the right he vigorously threw in a large

spadeful; and the wood of the coffin, struck by the pebbles, gave forth

that dread sound that seems to us the reverberation of eternity.
The ecclesiastic passed the holy water sprinkler to his neighbour. This

was Homais. He swung it gravely, then handed it to Charles, who sank to

his knees in the earth and threw in handfuls of it, crying, "Adieu!" He

sent her kisses; he dragged himself towards the grave, to engulf himself

with her. They led him away, and he soon grew calmer, feeling perhaps,

like the others, a vague satisfaction that it was all over.


Old Rouault on his way back began quietly smoking a pipe, which Homais

in his innermost conscience thought not quite the thing. He also noticed

that Monsieur Binet had not been present, and that Tuvache had "made

off" after mass, and that Theodore, the notary's servant wore a blue

coat, "as if one could not have got a black coat, since that is the

custom, by Jove!" And to share his observations with others he went from

group to group. They were deploring Emma's death, especially Lheureux,

who had not failed to come to the funeral.


"Poor little woman! What a trouble for her husband!"
The druggist continued, "Do you know that but for me he would have

committed some fatal attempt upon himself?"


"Such a good woman! To think that I saw her only last Saturday in my

shop."
"I haven't had leisure," said Homais, "to prepare a few words that I

would have cast upon her tomb."
Charles on getting home undressed, and old Rouault put on his blue

blouse. It was a new one, and as he had often during the journey wiped

his eyes on the sleeves, the dye had stained his face, and the traces of

tears made lines in the layer of dust that covered it.


Madame Bovary senior was with them. All three were silent. At last the

old fellow sighed--


"Do you remember, my friend, that I went to Tostes once when you had

just lost your first deceased? I consoled you at that time. I thought of

something to say then, but now--" Then, with a loud groan that shook his

whole chest, "Ah! this is the end for me, do you see! I saw my wife go,

then my son, and now to-day it's my daughter."
He wanted to go back at once to Bertaux, saying that he could not sleep

in this house. He even refused to see his granddaughter.


"No, no! It would grieve me too much. Only you'll kiss her many times

for me. Good-bye! you're a good fellow! And then I shall never forget

that," he said, slapping his thigh. "Never fear, you shall always have

your turkey."


But when he reached the top of the hill he turned back, as he had turned

once before on the road of Saint-Victor when he had parted from her. The

windows of the village were all on fire beneath the slanting rays of the

sun sinking behind the field. He put his hand over his eyes, and saw

in the horizon an enclosure of walls, where trees here and there formed

black clusters between white stones; then he went on his way at a gentle

trot, for his nag had gone lame.
Despite their fatigue, Charles and his mother stayed very long that

evening talking together. They spoke of the days of the past and of the

future. She would come to live at Yonville; she would keep house for

him; they would never part again. She was ingenious and caressing,

rejoicing in her heart at gaining once more an affection that had

wandered from her for so many years. Midnight struck. The village as

usual was silent, and Charles, awake, thought always of her.
Rodolphe, who, to distract himself, had been rambling about the wood all

day, was sleeping quietly in his chateau, and Leon, down yonder, always

slept.
There was another who at that hour was not asleep.
On the grave between the pine-trees a child was on his knees weeping,

and his heart, rent by sobs, was beating in the shadow beneath the load

of an immense regret, sweeter than the moon and fathomless as the night.

The gate suddenly grated. It was Lestiboudois; he came to fetch his

spade, that he had forgotten. He recognised Justin climbing over the

wall, and at last knew who was the culprit who stole his potatoes.


Chapter Eleven


The next day Charles had the child brought back. She asked for her

mamma. They told her she was away; that she would bring her back some

playthings. Berthe spoke of her again several times, then at last

thought no more of her. The child's gaiety broke Bovary's heart, and he

had to bear besides the intolerable consolations of the chemist.
Money troubles soon began again, Monsieur Lheureux urging on anew his

friend Vincart, and Charles pledged himself for exorbitant sums; for he

would never consent to let the smallest of the things that had belonged

to HER be sold. His mother was exasperated with him; he grew even more

angry than she did. He had altogether changed. She left the house.
Then everyone began "taking advantage" of him. Mademoiselle Lempereur

presented a bill for six months' teaching, although Emma had never taken

a lesson (despite the receipted bill she had shown Bovary); it was an

arrangement between the two women. The man at the circulating library

demanded three years' subscriptions; Mere Rollet claimed the postage due

for some twenty letters, and when Charles asked for an explanation, she

had the delicacy to reply--
"Oh, I don't know. It was for her business affairs."
With every debt he paid Charles thought he had come to the end of them.

But others followed ceaselessly. He sent in accounts for professional

attendance. He was shown the letters his wife had written. Then he had

to apologise.


Felicite now wore Madame Bovary's gowns; not all, for he had kept some

of them, and he went to look at them in her dressing-room, locking

himself up there; she was about her height, and often Charles, seeing

her from behind, was seized with an illusion, and cried out--


"Oh, stay, stay!"
But at Whitsuntide she ran away from Yonville, carried off by Theodore,

stealing all that was left of the wardrobe.


It was about this time that the widow Dupuis had the honour to inform

him of the "marriage of Monsieur Leon Dupuis her son, notary at Yvetot,

to Mademoiselle Leocadie Leboeuf of Bondeville." Charles, among the

other congratulations he sent him, wrote this sentence--


"How glad my poor wife would have been!"
One day when, wandering aimlessly about the house, he had gone up to the

attic, he felt a pellet of fine paper under his slipper. He opened it

and read: "Courage, Emma, courage. I would not bring misery into your

life." It was Rodolphe's letter, fallen to the ground between the boxes,

where it had remained, and that the wind from the dormer window had just

blown towards the door. And Charles stood, motionless and staring, in

the very same place where, long ago, Emma, in despair, and paler even

than he, had thought of dying. At last he discovered a small R at the

bottom of the second page. What did this mean? He remembered Rodolphe's

attentions, his sudden, disappearance, his constrained air when they

had met two or three times since. But the respectful tone of the letter

deceived him.


"Perhaps they loved one another platonically," he said to himself.
Besides, Charles was not of those who go to the bottom of things; he

shrank from the proofs, and his vague jealousy was lost in the immensity




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