was rising; and in silk stockings, knee-breeches, white cravat, and
frilled shirt, the steward, grave as a judge, offering ready carved
dishes between the shoulders of the guests, with a touch of the spoon
gave you the piece chosen. On the large stove of porcelain inlaid
with copper baguettes the statue of a woman, draped to the chin, gazed
motionless on the room full of life.
Madame Bovary noticed that many ladies had not put their gloves in their
But at the upper end of the table, alone amongst all these women, bent
over his full plate, and his napkin tied round his neck like a child, an
old man sat eating, letting drops of gravy drip from his mouth. His eyes
were bloodshot, and he wore a little queue tied with black ribbon. He
was the Marquis's father-in-law, the old Duke de Laverdiere, once on
a time favourite of the Count d'Artois, in the days of the Vaudreuil
hunting-parties at the Marquis de Conflans', and had been, it was said,
the lover of Queen Marie Antoinette, between Monsieur de Coigny and
Monsieur de Lauzun. He had lived a life of noisy debauch, full of duels,
bets, elopements; he had squandered his fortune and frightened all his
family. A servant behind his chair named aloud to him in his ear the
dishes that he pointed to stammering, and constantly Emma's eyes
turned involuntarily to this old man with hanging lips, as to something
extraordinary. He had lived at court and slept in the bed of queens!
Iced champagne was poured out. Emma shivered all over as she felt
it cold in her mouth. She had never seen pomegranates nor tasted
pineapples. The powdered sugar even seemed to her whiter and finer than
The ladies afterwards went to their rooms to prepare for the ball.
Emma made her toilet with the fastidious care of an actress on her
debut. She did her hair according to the directions of the hairdresser,
and put on the barege dress spread out upon the bed.
Charles's trousers were tight across the belly.
"My trouser-straps will be rather awkward for dancing," he said.
"Dancing?" repeated Emma.
"Why, you must be mad! They would make fun of you; keep your place.
Besides, it is more becoming for a doctor," she added.
Charles was silent. He walked up and down waiting for Emma to finish
He saw her from behind in the glass between two lights. Her black eyes
seemed blacker than ever. Her hair, undulating towards the ears, shone
with a blue lustre; a rose in her chignon trembled on its mobile stalk,
with artificial dewdrops on the tip of the leaves. She wore a gown of
pale saffron trimmed with three bouquets of pompon roses mixed with
Charles came and kissed her on her shoulder.
"Let me alone!" she said; "you are tumbling me."
One could hear the flourish of the violin and the notes of a horn. She
went downstairs restraining herself from running.
Dancing had begun. Guests were arriving. There was some crushing.
She sat down on a form near the door.
The quadrille over, the floor was occupied by groups of men standing up
and talking and servants in livery bearing large trays. Along the line
of seated women painted fans were fluttering, bouquets half hid smiling
faces, and gold stoppered scent-bottles were turned in partly-closed
hands, whose white gloves outlined the nails and tightened on the flesh
at the wrists. Lace trimmings, diamond brooches, medallion bracelets
trembled on bodices, gleamed on breasts, clinked on bare arms.
The hair, well-smoothed over the temples and knotted at the nape,
bore crowns, or bunches, or sprays of mytosotis, jasmine, pomegranate
blossoms, ears of corn, and corn-flowers. Calmly seated in their places,
mothers with forbidding countenances were wearing red turbans.
Emma's heart beat rather faster when, her partner holding her by the
tips of the fingers, she took her place in a line with the dancers, and
waited for the first note to start. But her emotion soon vanished, and,
swaying to the rhythm of the orchestra, she glided forward with slight
movements of the neck. A smile rose to her lips at certain delicate
phrases of the violin, that sometimes played alone while the other
instruments were silent; one could hear the clear clink of the louis
d'or that were being thrown down upon the card tables in the next room;
then all struck again, the cornet-a-piston uttered its sonorous note,
feet marked time, skirts swelled and rustled, hands touched and parted;
the same eyes falling before you met yours again.
A few men (some fifteen or so), of twenty-five to forty, scattered here
and there among the dancers or talking at the doorways, distinguished
themselves from the crowd by a certain air of breeding, whatever their
differences in age, dress, or face.
Their clothes, better made, seemed of finer cloth, and their hair,
brought forward in curls towards the temples, glossy with more delicate
pomades. They had the complexion of wealth--that clear complexion that
is heightened by the pallor of porcelain, the shimmer of satin, the
veneer of old furniture, and that an ordered regimen of exquisite
nurture maintains at its best. Their necks moved easily in their low
cravats, their long whiskers fell over their turned-down collars, they
wiped their lips upon handkerchiefs with embroidered initials that gave
forth a subtle perfume. Those who were beginning to grow old had an air
of youth, while there was something mature in the faces of the young.
In their unconcerned looks was the calm of passions daily satiated, and
through all their gentleness of manner pierced that peculiar brutality,
the result of a command of half-easy things, in which force is exercised
and vanity amused--the management of thoroughbred horses and the society
of loose women.
A few steps from Emma a gentleman in a blue coat was talking of Italy
with a pale young woman wearing a parure of pearls.
They were praising the breadth of the columns of St. Peter's, Tivoly,
Vesuvius, Castellamare, and Cassines, the roses of Genoa, the Coliseum
by moonlight. With her other ear Emma was listening to a conversation
full of words she did not understand. A circle gathered round a very
young man who the week before had beaten "Miss Arabella" and "Romolus,"
and won two thousand louis jumping a ditch in England. One complained
that his racehorses were growing fat; another of the printers' errors
that had disfigured the name of his horse.
The atmosphere of the ball was heavy; the lamps were growing dim.
Guests were flocking to the billiard room. A servant got upon a chair
and broke the window-panes. At the crash of the glass Madame Bovary
turned her head and saw in the garden the faces of peasants pressed
against the window looking in at them. Then the memory of the Bertaux
came back to her. She saw the farm again, the muddy pond, her father in
a blouse under the apple trees, and she saw herself again as formerly,
skimming with her finger the cream off the milk-pans in the dairy. But
in the refulgence of the present hour her past life, so distinct until
then, faded away completely, and she almost doubted having lived it. She
was there; beyond the ball was only shadow overspreading all the rest.
She was just eating a maraschino ice that she held with her left hand
in a silver-gilt cup, her eyes half-closed, and the spoon between her
A lady near her dropped her fan. A gentlemen was passing.
"Would you be so good," said the lady, "as to pick up my fan that has
fallen behind the sofa?"
The gentleman bowed, and as he moved to stretch out his arm, Emma saw
the hand of a young woman throw something white, folded in a triangle,
into his hat. The gentleman, picking up the fan, offered it to the lady
respectfully; she thanked him with an inclination of the head, and began
smelling her bouquet.
After supper, where were plenty of Spanish and Rhine wines, soups a la
bisque and au lait d'amandes*, puddings a la Trafalgar, and all sorts of
cold meats with jellies that trembled in the dishes, the carriages one
after the other began to drive off. Raising the corners of the muslin
curtain, one could see the light of their lanterns glimmering through
the darkness. The seats began to empty, some card-players were still
left; the musicians were cooling the tips of their fingers on their
tongues. Charles was half asleep, his back propped against a door.
*With almond milk
At three o'clock the cotillion began. Emma did not know how to waltz.
Everyone was waltzing, Mademoiselle d'Andervilliers herself and the
Marquis; only the guests staying at the castle were still there, about a
One of the waltzers, however, who was familiarly called Viscount, and
whose low cut waistcoat seemed moulded to his chest, came a second time
to ask Madame Bovary to dance, assuring her that he would guide her, and
that she would get through it very well.
They began slowly, then went more rapidly. They turned; all around them
was turning--the lamps, the furniture, the wainscoting, the floor, like
a disc on a pivot. On passing near the doors the bottom of Emma's dress
caught against his trousers.
Their legs commingled; he looked down at her; she raised her eyes to
his. A torpor seized her; she stopped. They started again, and with a
more rapid movement; the Viscount, dragging her along disappeared with
her to the end of the gallery, where panting, she almost fell, and for
a moment rested her head upon his breast. And then, still turning, but
more slowly, he guided her back to her seat. She leaned back against the
wall and covered her eyes with her hands.
When she opened them again, in the middle of the drawing room three
waltzers were kneeling before a lady sitting on a stool.
She chose the Viscount, and the violin struck up once more.
Everyone looked at them. They passed and re-passed, she with rigid body,
her chin bent down, and he always in the same pose, his figure curved,
his elbow rounded, his chin thrown forward. That woman knew how to
waltz! They kept up a long time, and tired out all the others.
Then they talked a few moments longer, and after the goodnights, or
rather good mornings, the guests of the chateau retired to bed.
Charles dragged himself up by the balusters. His "knees were going
up into his body." He had spent five consecutive hours standing
bolt upright at the card tables, watching them play whist, without
understanding anything about it, and it was with a deep sigh of relief
that he pulled off his boots.
Emma threw a shawl over her shoulders, opened the window, and leant out.
The night was dark; some drops of rain were falling. She breathed in the
damp wind that refreshed her eyelids. The music of the ball was still
murmuring in her ears. And she tried to keep herself awake in order to
prolong the illusion of this luxurious life that she would soon have to
Day began to break. She looked long at the windows of the chateau,
trying to guess which were the rooms of all those she had noticed the
evening before. She would fain have known their lives, have penetrated,
blended with them. But she was shivering with cold. She undressed, and
cowered down between the sheets against Charles, who was asleep.
There were a great many people to luncheon. The repast lasted ten
minutes; no liqueurs were served, which astonished the doctor.
Next, Mademoiselle d'Andervilliers collected some pieces of roll in a
small basket to take them to the swans on the ornamental waters, and
they went to walk in the hot-houses, where strange plants, bristling
with hairs, rose in pyramids under hanging vases, whence, as from
over-filled nests of serpents, fell long green cords interlacing.
The orangery, which was at the other end, led by a covered way to the
outhouses of the chateau. The Marquis, to amuse the young woman, took
her to see the stables.
Above the basket-shaped racks porcelain slabs bore the names of the
horses in black letters. Each animal in its stall whisked its tail when
anyone went near and said "Tchk! tchk!" The boards of the harness room
shone like the flooring of a drawing room. The carriage harness was
piled up in the middle against two twisted columns, and the bits, the
whips, the spurs, the curbs, were ranged in a line all along the wall.
Charles, meanwhile, went to ask a groom to put his horse to. The
dog-cart was brought to the foot of the steps, and, all the parcels
being crammed in, the Bovarys paid their respects to the Marquis and
Marchioness and set out again for Tostes.
Emma watched the turning wheels in silence. Charles, on the extreme edge
of the seat, held the reins with his two arms wide apart, and the little
horse ambled along in the shafts that were too big for him. The loose
reins hanging over his crupper were wet with foam, and the box fastened
on behind the chaise gave great regular bumps against it.
They were on the heights of Thibourville when suddenly some horsemen
with cigars between their lips passed laughing. Emma thought she
recognized the Viscount, turned back, and caught on the horizon only the
movement of the heads rising or falling with the unequal cadence of the
trot or gallop.
A mile farther on they had to stop to mend with some string the traces
that had broken.
But Charles, giving a last look to the harness, saw something on the
ground between his horse's legs, and he picked up a cigar-case with
a green silk border and beblazoned in the centre like the door of a
"There are even two cigars in it," said he; "they'll do for this evening
"Why, do you smoke?" she asked.
"Sometimes, when I get a chance."
He put his find in his pocket and whipped up the nag.
When they reached home the dinner was not ready. Madame lost her temper.
Nastasie answered rudely.
"Leave the room!" said Emma. "You are forgetting yourself. I give you
For dinner there was onion soup and a piece of veal with sorrel.
Charles, seated opposite Emma, rubbed his hands gleefully.
"How good it is to be at home again!"
Nastasie could be heard crying. He was rather fond of the poor girl.
the fevers of the flesh and the languors of tenderness could not be
separated from the balconies of great castles full of indolence,
from boudoirs with silken curtains and thick carpets, well-filled
flower-stands, a bed on a raised dias, nor from the flashing of precious
stones and the shoulder-knots of liveries.
The lad from the posting house who came to groom the mare every morning
passed through the passage with his heavy wooden shoes; there were holes
in his blouse; his feet were bare in list slippers. And this was the
groom in knee-britches with whom she had to be content! His work done,
he did not come back again all day, for Charles on his return put up
his horse himself, unsaddled him and put on the halter, while the
servant-girl brought a bundle of straw and threw it as best she could
into the manger.
To replace Nastasie (who left Tostes shedding torrents of tears) Emma
took into her service a young girl of fourteen, an orphan with a sweet
face. She forbade her wearing cotton caps, taught her to address her in
the third person, to bring a glass of water on a plate, to knock before
coming into a room, to iron, starch, and to dress her--wanted to make a
lady's-maid of her. The new servant obeyed without a murmur, so as not
to be sent away; and as madame usually left the key in the sideboard,
Felicite every evening took a small supply of sugar that she ate alone
in her bed after she had said her prayers.
Sometimes in the afternoon she went to chat with the postilions.
Madame was in her room upstairs. She wore an open dressing gown that
showed between the shawl facings of her bodice a pleated chamisette with
three gold buttons. Her belt was a corded girdle with great tassels, and
her small garnet coloured slippers had a large knot of ribbon that fell
over her instep. She had bought herself a blotting book, writing case,
pen-holder, and envelopes, although she had no one to write to; she
dusted her what-not, looked at herself in the glass, picked up a book,
and then, dreaming between the lines, let it drop on her knees. She
longed to travel or to go back to her convent. She wished at the same
time to die and to live in Paris.
Charles in snow and rain trotted across country. He ate omelettes on
farmhouse tables, poked his arm into damp beds, received the tepid
spurt of blood-lettings in his face, listened to death-rattles, examined
basins, turned over a good deal of dirty linen; but every evening he
found a blazing fire, his dinner ready, easy-chairs, and a well-dressed
woman, charming with an odour of freshness, though no one could say
whence the perfume came, or if it were not her skin that made odorous
She charmed him by numerous attentions; now it was some new way of
arranging paper sconces for the candles, a flounce that she altered on
her gown, or an extraordinary name for some very simple dish that the
servant had spoilt, but that Charles swallowed with pleasure to the last
mouthful. At Rouen she saw some ladies who wore a bunch of charms on the
watch-chains; she bought some charms. She wanted for her mantelpiece two
large blue glass vases, and some time after an ivory necessaire with a
silver-gilt thimble. The less Charles understood these refinements
the more they seduced him. They added something to the pleasure of the
senses and to the comfort of his fireside. It was like a golden dust
sanding all along the narrow path of his life.
He was well, looked well; his reputation was firmly established.
The country-folk loved him because he was not proud. He petted the
children, never went to the public house, and, moreover, his morals
inspired confidence. He was specially successful with catarrhs and chest
complaints. Being much afraid of killing his patients, Charles, in fact
only prescribed sedatives, from time to time and emetic, a footbath,
or leeches. It was not that he was afraid of surgery; he bled people
copiously like horses, and for the taking out of teeth he had the
"devil's own wrist."
Finally, to keep up with the times, he took in "La Ruche Medicale,"
a new journal whose prospectus had been sent him. He read it a little
after dinner, but in about five minutes the warmth of the room added to
the effect of his dinner sent him to sleep; and he sat there, his chin
on his two hands and his hair spreading like a mane to the foot of the
lamp. Emma looked at him and shrugged her shoulders. Why, at least, was
not her husband one of those men of taciturn passions who work at their
books all night, and at last, when about sixty, the age of rheumatism
sets in, wear a string of orders on their ill-fitting black coat?
She could have wished this name of Bovary, which was hers, had been
illustrious, to see it displayed at the booksellers', repeated in the
newspapers, known to all France. But Charles had no ambition.
An Yvetot doctor whom he had lately met in consultation had somewhat
humiliated him at the very bedside of the patient, before the assembled
relatives. When, in the evening, Charles told her this anecdote, Emma
inveighed loudly against his colleague. Charles was much touched. He
kissed her forehead with a tear in his eyes. But she was angered with
shame; she felt a wild desire to strike him; she went to open the window
in the passage and breathed in the fresh air to calm herself.
"What a man! What a man!" she said in a low voice, biting her lips.
Besides, she was becoming more irritated with him. As he grew older his
manner grew heavier; at dessert he cut the corks of the empty bottles;
after eating he cleaned his teeth with his tongue; in taking soup
he made a gurgling noise with every spoonful; and, as he was getting
fatter, the puffed-out cheeks seemed to push the eyes, always small, up
to the temples.
Sometimes Emma tucked the red borders of his under-vest unto his
waistcoat, rearranged his cravat, and threw away the dirty gloves he was
going to put on; and this was not, as he fancied, for himself; it
was for herself, by a diffusion of egotism, of nervous irritation.
Sometimes, too, she told him of what she had read, such as a passage in
a novel, of a new play, or an anecdote of the "upper ten" that she