of his woe.
Everyone, he thought, must have adored her; all men assuredly must have
coveted her. She seemed but the more beautiful to him for this; he
was seized with a lasting, furious desire for her, that inflamed his
despair, and that was boundless, because it was now unrealisable.
predilections, her ideas; he bought patent leather boots and took to
wearing white cravats. He put cosmetics on his moustache, and, like her,
signed notes of hand. She corrupted him from beyond the grave.
drawing-room furniture. All the rooms were stripped; but the bedroom,
her own room, remained as before. After his dinner Charles went up
there. He pushed the round table in front of the fire, and drew up her
armchair. He sat down opposite it. A candle burnt in one of the gilt
candlesticks. Berthe by his side was painting prints.
boots, and the arm-holes of her pinafore torn down to the hips; for the
charwoman took no care of her. But she was so sweet, so pretty, and her
little head bent forward so gracefully, letting the dear fair hair fall
over her rosy cheeks, that an infinite joy came upon him, a happiness
mingled with bitterness, like those ill-made wines that taste of
resin. He mended her toys, made her puppets from cardboard, or sewed up
half-torn dolls. Then, if his eyes fell upon the workbox, a ribbon lying
about, or even a pin left in a crack of the table, he began to dream,
and looked so sad that she became as sad as he.
was a grocer's assistant, and the druggist's children saw less and less
of the child, Monsieur Homais not caring, seeing the difference of their
social position, to continue the intimacy.
gone back to the hill of Bois-Guillaume, where he told the travellers of
the vain attempt of the druggist, to such an extent, that Homais when
he went to town hid himself behind the curtains of the "Hirondelle" to
avoid meeting him. He detested him, and wishing, in the interests of his
own reputation, to get rid of him at all costs, he directed against
him a secret battery, that betrayed the depth of his intellect and the
baseness of his vanity. Thus, for six consecutive months, one could read
in the "Fanal de Rouen" editorials such as these--
"All who bend their steps towards the fertile plains of Picardy have, no
doubt, remarked, by the Bois-Guillaume hill, a wretch suffering from
a horrible facial wound. He importunes, persecutes one, and levies a
regular tax on all travellers. Are we still living in the monstrous
times of the Middle Ages, when vagabonds were permitted to display in
our public places leprosy and scrofulas they had brought back from the
"In spite of the laws against vagabondage, the approaches to our great
towns continue to be infected by bands of beggars. Some are seen going
about alone, and these are not, perhaps, the least dangerous. What are
our ediles about?"
followed the story of an accident caused by the presence of the blind
He managed so well that the fellow was locked up. But he was released.
He began again, and Homais began again. It was a struggle. Homais won
it, for his foe was condemned to life-long confinement in an asylum.
This success emboldened him, and henceforth there was no longer a dog
run over, a barn burnt down, a woman beaten in the parish, of which
he did not immediately inform the public, guided always by the love of
progress and the hate of priests. He instituted comparisons between the
elementary and clerical schools to the detriment of the latter; called
to mind the massacre of St. Bartholomew a propos of a grant of one
hundred francs to the church, and denounced abuses, aired new views.
That was his phrase. Homais was digging and delving; he was becoming
However, he was stifling in the narrow limits of journalism, and soon a
book, a work was necessary to him. Then he composed "General Statistics
of the Canton of Yonville, followed by Climatological Remarks." The
statistics drove him to philosophy. He busied himself with great
questions: the social problem, moralisation of the poorer classes,
pisciculture, caoutchouc, railways, etc. He even began to blush at being
a bourgeois. He affected the artistic style, he smoked. He bought two
chic Pompadour statuettes to adorn his drawing-room.
of new discoveries. He followed the great movement of chocolates; he
was the first to introduce "cocoa" and "revalenta" into the
Seine-Inferieure. He was enthusiastic about the hydro-electric
Pulvermacher chains; he wore one himself, and when at night he took off
his flannel vest, Madame Homais stood quite dazzled before the golden
spiral beneath which he was hidden, and felt her ardour redouble for
this man more bandaged than a Scythian, and splendid as one of the Magi.
with some drapery, next a pyramid, then a Temple of Vesta, a sort of
rotunda, or else a "mass of ruins." And in all his plans Homais always
stuck to the weeping willow, which he looked upon as the indispensable
symbol of sorrow.
Charles and he made a journey to Rouen together to look at some tombs
at a funeral furnisher's, accompanied by an artist, one Vaufrylard, a
friend of Bridoux's, who made puns all the time. At last, after having
examined some hundred designs, having ordered an estimate and made
another journey to Rouen, Charles decided in favour of a mausoleum,
which on the two principal sides was to have a "spirit bearing an
As to the inscription, Homais could think of nothing so fine as Sta
viator*, and he got no further; he racked his brain, he constantly
repeated Sta viator. At last he hit upon Amabilen conjugem calcas**,
which was adopted.
forgetting her. He grew desperate as he felt this image fading from his
memory in spite of all efforts to retain it. Yet every night he dreamt
of her; it was always the same dream. He drew near her, but when he was
about to clasp her she fell into decay in his arms.
For a week he was seen going to church in the evening. Monsieur
Bournisien even paid him two or three visits, then gave him up.
Moreover, the old fellow was growing intolerant, fanatic, said Homais.
He thundered against the spirit of the age, and never failed, every
other week, in his sermon, to recount the death agony of Voltaire, who
died devouring his excrements, as everyone knows.
able to pay off his old debts. Lheureux refused to renew any more
bills. A distraint became imminent. Then he appealed to his mother, who
consented to let him take a mortgage on her property, but with a great
many recriminations against Emma; and in return for her sacrifice she
asked for a shawl that had escaped the depredations of Felicite. Charles
refused to give it her; they quarrelled.
She made the first overtures of reconciliation by offering to have the
little girl, who could help her in the house, to live with her. Charles
consented to this, but when the time for parting came, all his courage
failed him. Then there was a final, complete rupture.
child. She made him anxious, however, for she coughed sometimes, and had
red spots on her cheeks.
Opposite his house, flourishing and merry, was the family of the
chemist, with whom everything was prospering. Napoleon helped him in the
laboratory, Athalie embroidered him a skullcap, Irma cut out rounds of
paper to cover the preserves, and Franklin recited Pythagoras' table in
a breath. He was the happiest of fathers, the most fortunate of men.
Not so! A secret ambition devoured him. Homais hankered after the cross
of the Legion of Honour. He had plenty of claims to it.
boundless devotion; second, by having published, at my expense,
various works of public utility, such as" (and he recalled his pamphlet
entitled, "Cider, its manufacture and effects," besides observation
on the lanigerous plant-louse, sent to the Academy; his volume of
statistics, and down to his pharmaceutical thesis); "without counting
that I am a member of several learned societies" (he was member of a
distinguishing myself at fires!"
prefect great service during the elections. He sold himself--in a word,
prostituted himself. He even addressed a petition to the sovereign
in which he implored him to "do him justice"; he called him "our good
king," and compared him to Henri IV.
And every morning the druggist rushed for the paper to see if his
nomination were in it. It was never there. At last, unable to bear it
any longer, he had a grass plot in his garden designed to represent the
Star of the Cross of Honour with two little strips of grass running from
the top to imitate the ribband. He walked round it with folded arms,
meditating on the folly of the Government and the ingratitude of men.
investigations slowly, Charles had not yet opened the secret drawer of
a rosewood desk which Emma had generally used. One day, however, he
sat down before it, turned the key, and pressed the spring. All Leon's
letters were there. There could be no doubt this time. He devoured them
to the very last, ransacked every corner, all the furniture, all the
drawers, behind the walls, sobbing, crying aloud, distraught, mad. He
found a box and broke it open with a kick. Rodolphe's portrait flew full
in his face in the midst of the overturned love-letters.
People wondered at his despondency. He never went out, saw no one,
refused even to visit his patients. Then they said "he shut himself up
Sometimes, however, some curious person climbed on to the garden hedge,
and saw with amazement this long-bearded, shabbily clothed, wild man,
who wept aloud as he walked up and down.
In the evening in summer he took his little girl with him and led her to
the cemetery. They came back at nightfall, when the only light left in
the Place was that in Binet's window.
The voluptuousness of his grief was, however, incomplete, for he had no
one near him to share it, and he paid visits to Madame Lefrancois to be
able to speak of her.
But the landlady only listened with half an ear, having troubles
like himself. For Lheureux had at last established the "Favorites du
Commerce," and Hivert, who enjoyed a great reputation for doing errands,
insisted on a rise of wages, and was threatening to go over "to the
One day when he had gone to the market at Argueil to sell his horse--his
last resource--he met Rodolphe.
who had only sent his card, first stammered some apologies, then grew
bolder, and even pushed his assurance (it was in the month of August and
very hot) to the length of inviting him to have a bottle of beer at the
Leaning on the table opposite him, he chewed his cigar as he talked, and
Charles was lost in reverie at this face that she had loved. He seemed
to see again something of her in it. It was a marvel to him. He would
have liked to have been this man.
with banal phrases all the gaps where an allusion might slip in. Charles
was not listening to him; Rodolphe noticed it, and he followed the
succession of memories that crossed his face. This gradually grew
redder; the nostrils throbbed fast, the lips quivered. There was at
last a moment when Charles, full of a sombre fury, fixed his eyes on
Rodolphe, who, in something of fear, stopped talking. But soon the same
look of weary lassitude came back to his face.
broken voice, and with the resigned accent of infinite sorrow--
from a man in his position, comic even, and a little mean.
of light were straying through the trellis, the vine leaves threw their
shadows on the sand, the jasmines perfumed the air, the heavens were
blue, Spanish flies buzzed round the lilies in bloom, and Charles was
suffocating like a youth beneath the vague love influences that filled
his aching heart.
went to fetch him to dinner.
open, and in his hand was a long tress of black hair.
ground. He was dead.
thither. He made a post-mortem and found nothing.
remained, that served to pay for Mademoiselle Bovary's going to
her grandmother. The good woman died the same year; old Rouault was
paralysed, and it was an aunt who took charge of her. She is poor, and
sends her to a cotton-factory to earn a living.
Since Bovary's death three doctors have followed one another at Yonville
without any success, so severely did Homais attack them. He has an
enormous practice; the authorities treat him with consideration, and
public opinion protects him.