evening this was known in Yonville, and Madame Tuvache, the mayor's
wife, declared in the presence of her servant that "Madame Bovary was
the street, as if making for the cemetery, and to follow between little
houses and yards a small path bordered with privet hedges. They were
in bloom, and so were the speedwells, eglantines, thistles, and the
sweetbriar that sprang up from the thickets. Through openings in
the hedges one could see into the huts, some pigs on a dung-heap, or
tethered cows rubbing their horns against the trunk of trees. The two,
side by side walked slowly, she leaning upon him, and he restraining
his pace, which he regulated by hers; in front of them a swarm of midges
fluttered, buzzing in the warm air.
dormer-window of the garret, a string of onions. Faggots upright
against a thorn fence surrounded a bed of lettuce, a few square feet of
lavender, and sweet peas strung on sticks. Dirty water was running here
and there on the grass, and all round were several indefinite rags,
knitted stockings, a red calico jacket, and a large sheet of coarse
linen spread over the hedge. At the noise of the gate the nurse appeared
with a baby she was suckling on one arm. With her other hand she was
pulling along a poor puny little fellow, his face covered with scrofula,
the son of a Rouen hosier, whom his parents, too taken up with their
business, left in the country.
"Go in," she said; "your little one is there asleep."
The room on the ground-floor, the only one in the dwelling, had at its
farther end, against the wall, a large bed without curtains, while a
kneading-trough took up the side by the window, one pane of which
was mended with a piece of blue paper. In the corner behind the door,
shining hob-nailed shoes stood in a row under the slab of the washstand,
near a bottle of oil with a feather stuck in its mouth; a Matthieu
Laensberg lay on the dusty mantelpiece amid gunflints, candle-ends, and
bits of amadou.
trumpets, a picture cut out, no doubt, from some perfumer's prospectus
and nailed to the wall with six wooden shoe-pegs.
Emma's child was asleep in a wicker-cradle. She took it up in the
wrapping that enveloped it and began singing softly as she rocked
herself to and fro.
Leon walked up and down the room; it seemed strange to him to see this
beautiful woman in her nankeen dress in the midst of all this poverty.
Madam Bovary reddened; he turned away, thinking perhaps there had been
an impertinent look in his eyes. Then she put back the little girl, who
had just been sick over her collar.
The nurse at once came to dry her, protesting that it wouldn't show.
"She gives me other doses," she said: "I am always a-washing of her. If
you would have the goodness to order Camus, the grocer, to let me have
a little soap, it would really be more convenient for you, as I needn't
trouble you then."
she went out, wiping her shoes at the door.
time of the trouble she had getting up of nights.
might at least give me just a pound of ground coffee; that'd last me a
month, and I'd take it of a morning with some milk."
After having submitted to her thanks, Madam Bovary left. She had gone a
little way down the path when, at the sound of wooden shoes, she turned
round. It was the nurse.
"What is it?"
Then the peasant woman, taking her aside behind an elm tree, began
talking to her of her husband, who with his trade and six francs a year
that the captain--
"Oh, be quick!" said Emma.
"Well," the nurse went on, heaving sighs between each word, "I'm afraid
he'll be put out seeing me have coffee alone, you know men--"
has terrible cramps in the chest. He even says that cider weakens him."
too much," and she curtsied once more, "if you would"--and her eyes
begged--"a jar of brandy," she said at last, "and I'd rub your little
one's feet with it; they're as tender as one's tongue."
fast for some time, then more slowly, and looking straight in front of
her, her eyes rested on the shoulder of the young man, whose frock-coat
had a black-velvety collar. His brown hair fell over it, straight and
carefully arranged. She noticed his nails which were longer than one
wore them at Yonville. It was one of the clerk's chief occupations to
trim them, and for this purpose he kept a special knife in his writing
They returned to Yonville by the water-side. In the warm season the
bank, wider than at other times, showed to their foot the garden walls
whence a few steps led to the river. It flowed noiselessly, swift,
and cold to the eye; long, thin grasses huddled together in it as the
current drove them, and spread themselves upon the limpid water like
streaming hair; sometimes at the tip of the reeds or on the leaf of a
water-lily an insect with fine legs crawled or rested. The sun pierced
with a ray the small blue bubbles of the waves that, breaking, followed
each other; branchless old willows mirrored their grey backs in
the water; beyond, all around, the meadows seemed empty. It was the
dinner-hour at the farms, and the young woman and her companion heard
nothing as they walked but the fall of their steps on the earth of the
path, the words they spoke, and the sound of Emma's dress rustling round
The walls of the gardens with pieces of bottle on their coping were
hot as the glass windows of a conservatory. Wallflowers had sprung up
between the bricks, and with the tip of her open sunshade Madame Bovary,
as she passed, made some of their faded flowers crumble into a yellow
dust, or a spray of overhanging honeysuckle and clematis caught in its
fringe and dangled for a moment over the silk.
shortly at the Rouen theatre.
of more serious speech, and while they forced themselves to find trivial
phrases, they felt the same languor stealing over them both. It was the
whisper of the soul, deep, continuous, dominating that of their voices.
Surprised with wonder at this strange sweetness, they did not think of
speaking of the sensation or of seeking its cause. Coming joys, like
tropical shores, throw over the immensity before them their inborn
softness, an odorous wind, and we are lulled by this intoxication
without a thought of the horizon that we do not even know.
In one place the ground had been trodden down by the cattle; they had to
step on large green stones put here and there in the mud.
tottering on a stone that shook, her arms outspread, her form bent
forward with a look of indecision, she would laugh, afraid of falling
into the puddles of water.
little gate, ran up the steps and disappeared.
briefs, then cut himself a pen, and at last took up his hat and went
He went to La Pature at the top of the Argueil hills at the beginning of
the forest; he threw himself upon the ground under the pines and watched
the sky through his fingers.
"How bored I am!" he said to himself, "how bored I am!"
He thought he was to be pitied for living in this village, with Homais
for a friend and Monsieru Guillaumin for master. The latter, entirely
absorbed by his business, wearing gold-rimmed spectacles and red
whiskers over a white cravat, understood nothing of mental refinements,
although he affected a stiff English manner, which in the beginning had
impressed the clerk.
as a sheep, loving her children, her father, her mother, her cousins,
weeping for other's woes, letting everything go in her household, and
detesting corsets; but so slow of movement, such a bore to listen to, so
common in appearance, and of such restricted conversation, that although
she was thirty, he only twenty, although they slept in rooms next each
other and he spoke to her daily, he never thought that she might be a
woman for another, or that she possessed anything else of her sex than
And what else was there? Binet, a few shopkeepers, two or three
publicans, the cure, and finally, Monsieur Tuvache, the mayor, with his
two sons, rich, crabbed, obtuse persons, who farmed their own lands
and had feasts among themselves, bigoted to boot, and quite unbearable
But from the general background of all these human faces Emma's stood
out isolated and yet farthest off; for between her and him he seemed to
see a vague abyss.
In the beginning he had called on her several times along with the
druggist. Charles had not appeared particularly anxious to see him
again, and Leon did not know what to do between his fear of being
indiscreet and the desire for an intimacy that seemed almost impossible.
sitting-room, a long apartment with a low ceiling, in which there was
on the mantelpiece a large bunch of coral spread out against the
looking-glass. Seated in her arm chair near the window, she could see
the villagers pass along the pavement.
Twice a day Leon went from his office to the Lion d'Or. Emma could hear
him coming from afar; she leant forward listening, and the young man
glided past the curtain, always dressed in the same way, and without
turning his head. But in the twilight, when, her chin resting on her
left hand, she let the embroidery she had begun fall on her knees, she
often shuddered at the apparition of this shadow suddenly gliding past.
She would get up and order the table to be laid.
Monsieur Homais called at dinner-time. Skull-cap in hand, he came in on
tiptoe, in order to disturb no one, always repeating the same phrase,
"Good evening, everybody." Then, when he had taken his seat at the table
between the pair, he asked the doctor about his patients, and the latter
consulted his as to the probability of their payment. Next they talked
of "what was in the paper."
to end, with the reflections of the penny-a-liners, and all the stories
of individual catastrophes that had occurred in France or abroad. But
the subject becoming exhausted, he was not slow in throwing out some
remarks on the dishes before him.
Sometimes even, half-rising, he delicately pointed out to madame the
tenderest morsel, or turning to the servant, gave her some advice on the
manipulation of stews and the hygiene of seasoning.
He talked aroma, osmazome, juices, and gelatine in a bewildering manner.
Moreover, Homais, with his head fuller of recipes than his shop of jars,
excelled in making all kinds of preserves, vinegars, and sweet liqueurs;
he knew also all the latest inventions in economic stoves, together with
the art of preserving cheese and of curing sick wines.
At eight o'clock Justin came to fetch him to shut up the shop.
Then Monsieur Homais gave him a sly look, especially if Felicite was
there, for he half noticed that his apprentice was fond of the doctor's
"The young dog," he said, "is beginning to have ideas, and the devil
take me if I don't believe he's in love with your servant!"
constantly listening to conversation. On Sunday, for example, one could
not get him out of the drawing-room, whither Madame Homais had called
him to fetch the children, who were falling asleep in the arm-chairs,
and dragging down with their backs calico chair-covers that were too
Not many people came to these soirees at the chemist's, his
scandal-mongering and political opinions having successfully alienated
various respectable persons from him. The clerk never failed to be
there. As soon as he heard the bell he ran to meet Madame Bovary, took
her shawl, and put away under the shop-counter the thick list shoes that
she wore over her boots when there was snow.
First they played some hands at trente-et-un; next Monsieur Homais
played ecarte with Emma; Leon behind her gave her advice.
her comb that bit into her chignon. With every movement that she made
to throw her cards the right side of her dress was drawn up. From her
turned-up hair a dark colour fell over her back, and growing gradually
paler, lost itself little by little in the shade. Then her dress fell
on both sides of her chair, puffing out full of folds, and reached the
ground. When Leon occasionally felt the sole of his boot resting on it,
he drew back as if he had trodden upon some one.
dominoes, and Emma, changing her place, leant her elbow on the table,
turning over the leaves of "L'Illustration". She had brought her ladies'
journal with her. Leon sat down near her; they looked at the engravings
together, and waited for one another at the bottom of the pages. She
often begged him to read her the verses; Leon declaimed them in a
languid voice, to which he carefully gave a dying fall in the love
passages. But the noise of the dominoes annoyed him. Monsieur Homais
was strong at the game; he could beat Charles and give him a double-six.
Then the three hundred finished, they both stretched themselves out in
front of the fire, and were soon asleep. The fire was dying out in the
cinders; the teapot was empty, Leon was still reading.
gauze of which were painted clowns in carriages, and tight-rope dances
with their balancing-poles. Leon stopped, pointing with a gesture to his
sleeping audience; then they talked in low tones, and their conversation
seemed the more sweet to them because it was unheard.
Thus a kind of bond was established between them, a constant commerce
of books and of romances. Monsieur Bovary, little given to jealousy, did
not trouble himself about it.
On his birthday he received a beautiful phrenological head, all marked
with figures to the thorax and painted blue. This was an attention of
the clerk's. He showed him many others, even to doing errands for him
at Rouen; and the book of a novelist having made the mania for cactuses
fashionable, Leon bought some for Madame Bovary, bringing them back on
his knees in the "Hirondelle," pricking his fingers on their hard hairs.
pots. The clerk, too, had his small hanging garden; they saw each other
tending their flowers at their windows.
Of the windows of the village there was one yet more often occupied; for
on Sundays from morning to night, and every morning when the weather was
bright, one could see at the dormer-window of the garret the profile of
Monsieur Binet bending over his lathe, whose monotonous humming could be
heard at the Lion d'Or.
One evening on coming home Leon found in his room a rug in velvet and
wool with leaves on a pale ground. He called Madame Homais, Monsieur
Homais, Justin, the children, the cook; he spoke of it to his chief;
every one wanted to see this rug. Why did the doctor's wife give the
clerk presents? It looked queer. They decided that she must be his
He made this seem likely, so ceaselessly did he talk of her charms and
of her wit; so much so, that Binet once roughly answered him--
"What does it matter to me since I'm not in her set?"
He tortured himself to find out how he could make his declaration to
her, and always halting between the fear of displeasing her and the
shame of being such a coward, he wept with discouragement and desire.
Then he took energetic resolutions, wrote letters that he tore up, put
it off to times that he again deferred.
Often he set out with the determination to dare all; but this resolution
soon deserted him in Emma's presence, and when Charles, dropping in,
invited him to jump into his chaise to go with him to see some patient
in the neighbourhood, he at once accepted, bowed to madame, and went
out. Her husband, was he not something belonging to her? As to Emma,
she did not ask herself whether she loved. Love, she thought, must come
suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings--a hurricane of the skies,
which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf,
and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss. She did not know that on
the terrace of houses it makes lakes when the pipes are choked, and she
would thus have remained in her security when she suddenly discovered a
rent in the wall of it.
gone to see a yarn-mill that was being built in the valley a mile and a
half from Yonville. The druggist had taken Napoleon and Athalie to give
them some exercise, and Justin accompanied them, carrying the umbrellas
on his shoulder.
Nothing, however, could be less curious than this curiosity. A great
piece of waste ground, on which pell-mell, amid a mass of sand and
stones, were a few break-wheels, already rusty, surrounded by a
quadrangular building pierced by a number of little windows. The
building was unfinished; the sky could be seen through the joists of the
roofing. Attached to the stop-plank of the gable a bunch of straw mixed
with corn-ears fluttered its tricoloured ribbons in the wind.
Homais was talking. He explained to the company the future importance
of this establishment, computed the strength of the floorings, the
thickness of the walls, and regretted extremely not having a yard-stick
such as Monsieur Binet possessed for his own special use.
she looked at the sun's disc shedding afar through the mist his pale
splendour. She turned. Charles was there. His cap was drawn down over
his eyebrows, and his two thick lips were trembling, which added a look
of stupidity to his face; his very back, his calm back, was irritating
to behold, and she saw written upon his coat all the platitude of the
While she was considering him thus, tasting in her irritation a sort of
depraved pleasure, Leon made a step forward. The cold that made him pale
seemed to add a more gentle languor to his face; between his cravat and
his neck the somewhat loose collar of his shirt showed the skin; the
lobe of his ear looked out from beneath a lock of hair, and his large
blue eyes, raised to the clouds, seemed to Emma more limpid and more
beautiful than those mountain-lakes where the heavens are mirrored.
"Wretched boy!" suddenly cried the chemist.
And he ran to his son, who had just precipitated himself into a heap of
lime in order to whiten his boots. At the reproaches with which he was
being overwhelmed Napoleon began to roar, while Justin dried his shoes
with a wisp of straw. But a knife was wanted; Charles offered his.
Charles had left and she felt herself alone, the comparison re-began
with the clearness of a sensation almost actual, and with that
lengthening of perspective which memory gives to things. Looking from
her bed at the clean fire that was burning, she still saw, as she had
down there, Leon standing up with one hand behind his cane, and with
the other holding Athalie, who was quietly sucking a piece of ice. She
thought him charming; she could not tear herself away from him; she
recalled his other attitudes on other days, the words he had spoken, the
sound of his voice, his whole person; and she repeated, pouting out her
lips as if for a kiss--
"Yes, charming! charming! Is he not in love?" she asked herself; "but
with whom? With me?"
the fire threw a joyous light upon the ceiling; she turned on her back,
stretching out her arms.
Then began the eternal lamentation: "Oh, if Heaven had out willed it!
And why not? What prevented it?"
and as he made a noise undressing, she complained of a headache, then
asked carelessly what had happened that evening.
"Monsieur Leon," he said, "went to his room early."
She could not help smiling, and she fell asleep, her soul filled with a
draper. He was a man of ability, was this shopkeeper. Born a Gascon but
bred a Norman, he grafted upon his southern volubility the cunning of
the Cauchois. His fat, flabby, beardless face seemed dyed by a
decoction of liquorice, and his white hair made even more vivid the
keen brilliance of his small black eyes. No one knew what he had been
formerly; a pedlar said some, a banker at Routot according to others.