it isn't the money I should trouble about. Why, I could give you some,
if need be."
She made a gesture of surprise.
"Ah!" said he quickly and in a low voice, "I shouldn't have to go far to
find you some, rely on that."
And he began asking after Pere Tellier, the proprietor of the "Cafe
Francais," whom Monsieur Bovary was then attending.
"What's the matter with Pere Tellier? He coughs so that he shakes his
whole house, and I'm afraid he'll soon want a deal covering rather than
a flannel vest. He was such a rake as a young man! Those sort of people,
madame, have not the least regularity; he's burnt up with brandy. Still
it's sad, all the same, to see an acquaintance go off."
And while he fastened up his box he discoursed about the doctor's
"It's the weather, no doubt," he said, looking frowningly at the floor,
"that causes these illnesses. I, too, don't feel the thing. One of these
days I shall even have to consult the doctor for a pain I have in my
back. Well, good-bye, Madame Bovary. At your service; your very humble
servant." And he closed the door gently.
Emma had her dinner served in her bedroom on a tray by the fireside; she
was a long time over it; everything was well with her.
"How good I was!" she said to herself, thinking of the scarves.
She heard some steps on the stairs. It was Leon. She got up and took
from the chest of drawers the first pile of dusters to be hemmed. When
he came in she seemed very busy.
The conversation languished; Madame Bovary gave it up every few minutes,
whilst he himself seemed quite embarrassed. Seated on a low chair near
the fire, he turned round in his fingers the ivory thimble-case. She
stitched on, or from time to time turned down the hem of the cloth with
her nail. She did not speak; he was silent, captivated by her silence,
as he would have been by her speech.
"Poor fellow!" she thought.
"How have I displeased her?" he asked himself.
At last, however, Leon said that he should have, one of these days, to
go to Rouen on some office business.
"Your music subscription is out; am I to renew it?"
"No," she replied.
And pursing her lips she slowly drew a long stitch of grey thread.
This work irritated Leon. It seemed to roughen the ends of her fingers.
A gallant phrase came into his head, but he did not risk it.
"Then you are giving it up?" he went on.
"What?" she asked hurriedly. "Music? Ah! yes! Have I not my house to
look after, my husband to attend to, a thousand things, in fact, many
duties that must be considered first?"
She looked at the clock. Charles was late. Then, she affected anxiety.
Two or three times she even repeated, "He is so good!"
The clerk was fond of Monsieur Bovary. But this tenderness on his behalf
astonished him unpleasantly; nevertheless he took up on his praises,
which he said everyone was singing, especially the chemist.
"Ah! he is a good fellow," continued Emma.
"Certainly," replied the clerk.
And he began talking of Madame Homais, whose very untidy appearance
generally made them laugh.
"What does it matter?" interrupted Emma. "A good housewife does not
trouble about her appearance."
Then she relapsed into silence.
It was the same on the following days; her talks, her manners,
everything changed. She took interest in the housework, went to church
regularly, and looked after her servant with more severity.
She took Berthe from nurse. When visitors called, Felicite brought her
in, and Madame Bovary undressed her to show off her limbs. She declared
she adored children; this was her consolation, her joy, her passion,
and she accompanied her caresses with lyrical outburst which would have
reminded anyone but the Yonville people of Sachette in "Notre Dame de
When Charles came home he found his slippers put to warm near the fire.
His waistcoat now never wanted lining, nor his shirt buttons, and it was
quite a pleasure to see in the cupboard the night-caps arranged in piles
of the same height. She no longer grumbled as formerly at taking a turn
in the garden; what he proposed was always done, although she did not
understand the wishes to which she submitted without a murmur; and when
Leon saw him by his fireside after dinner, his two hands on his stomach,
his two feet on the fender, his two cheeks red with feeding, his eyes
moist with happiness, the child crawling along the carpet, and this
woman with the slender waist who came behind his arm-chair to kiss his
forehead: "What madness!" he said to himself. "And how to reach her!"
And thus she seemed so virtuous and inaccessible to him that he lost all
hope, even the faintest. But by this renunciation he placed her on
an extraordinary pinnacle. To him she stood outside those fleshly
attributes from which he had nothing to obtain, and in his heart she
rose ever, and became farther removed from him after the magnificent
manner of an apotheosis that is taking wing. It was one of those pure
feelings that do not interfere with life, that are cultivated because
they are rare, and whose loss would afflict more than their passion
your ears, you imp!" Then turning to Emma, "He's Boudet the carpenter's
son; his parents are well off, and let him do just as he pleases. Yet he
could learn quickly if he would, for he is very sharp. And so sometimes
for a joke I call him Riboudet (like the road one takes to go to
Maromme) and I even say 'Mon Riboudet.' Ha! Ha! 'Mont Riboudet.' The
other day I repeated that just to Monsignor, and he laughed at it; he
condescended to laugh at it. And how is Monsieur Bovary?"
She seemed not to hear him. And he went on--
"Always very busy, no doubt; for he and I are certainly the busiest
people in the parish. But he is doctor of the body," he added with a
thick laugh, "and I of the soul."
She fixed her pleading eyes upon the priest. "Yes," she said, "you
solace all sorrows."
"Ah! don't talk to me of it, Madame Bovary. This morning I had to go to
Bas-Diauville for a cow that was ill; they thought it was under a spell.
All their cows, I don't know how it is--But pardon me! Longuemarre and
Boudet! Bless me! Will you leave off?"
And with a bound he ran into the church.
The boys were just then clustering round the large desk, climbing over
the precentor's footstool, opening the missal; and others on tiptoe were
just about to venture into the confessional. But the priest suddenly
distributed a shower of cuffs among them. Seizing them by the collars of
their coats, he lifted them from the ground, and deposited them on their
knees on the stones of the choir, firmly, as if he meant planting them
"Yes," said he, when he returned to Emma, unfolding his large cotton
handkerchief, one corner of which he put between his teeth, "farmers are
much to be pitied."
"Others, too," she replied.
"Assuredly. Town-labourers, for example."
"It is not they--"
"Pardon! I've there known poor mothers of families, virtuous women, I
assure you, real saints, who wanted even bread."
"But those," replied Emma, and the corners of her mouth twitched as she
spoke, "those, Monsieur le Cure, who have bread and have no--"
"Fire in the winter," said the priest.
"Oh, what does that matter?"
"What! What does it matter? It seems to me that when one has firing and
food--for, after all--"
"My God! my God!" she sighed.
"It is indigestion, no doubt? You must get home, Madame Bovary; drink
a little tea, that will strengthen you, or else a glass of fresh water
with a little moist sugar."
"Why?" And she looked like one awaking from a dream.
"Well, you see, you were putting your hand to your forehead. I thought
you felt faint." Then, bethinking himself, "But you were asking me
something? What was it? I really don't remember."
"I? Nothing! nothing!" repeated Emma.
And the glance she cast round her slowly fell upon the old man in the
cassock. They looked at one another face to face without speaking.
"Then, Madame Bovary," he said at last, "excuse me, but duty first, you
know; I must look after my good-for-nothings. The first communion will
soon be upon us, and I fear we shall be behind after all. So after
Ascension Day I keep them recta* an extra hour every Wednesday. Poor
children! One cannot lead them too soon into the path of the Lord, as,
moreover, he has himself recommended us to do by the mouth of his Divine
Son. Good health to you, madame; my respects to your husband."
*On the straight and narrow path.
And he went into the church making a genuflexion as soon as he reached
Emma saw him disappear between the double row of forms, walking with a
heavy tread, his head a little bent over his shoulder, and with his two
hands half-open behind him.
Then she turned on her heel all of one piece, like a statue on a pivot,
and went homewards. But the loud voice of the priest, the clear voices
of the boys still reached her ears, and went on behind her.
"Are you a Christian?"
"Yes, I am a Christian."
"What is a Christian?"
"He who, being baptized-baptized-baptized--"
She went up the steps of the staircase holding on to the banisters, and
when she was in her room threw herself into an arm-chair.
The whitish light of the window-panes fell with soft undulations.
The furniture in its place seemed to have become more immobile, and to
lose itself in the shadow as in an ocean of darkness. The fire was out,
the clock went on ticking, and Emma vaguely marvelled at this calm of
all things while within herself was such tumult. But little Berthe was
there, between the window and the work-table, tottering on her knitted