"Leave me alone," said the latter, putting her from her with her hand.
The little girl soon came up closer against her knees, and leaning on
them with her arms, she looked up with her large blue eyes, while a
small thread of pure saliva dribbled from her lips on to the silk apron.
"Leave me alone," repeated the young woman quite irritably.
Her face frightened the child, who began to scream.
"Will you leave me alone?" she said, pushing her with her elbow.
Berthe fell at the foot of the drawers against the brass handle, cutting
her cheek, which began to bleed, against it. Madame Bovary sprang to
lift her up, broke the bell-rope, called for the servant with all her
might, and she was just going to curse herself when Charles appeared. It
was the dinner-hour; he had come home.
"Look, dear!" said Emma, in a calm voice, "the little one fell down
while she was playing, and has hurt herself."
Charles reassured her; the case was not a serious one, and he went for
some sticking plaster.
Madame Bovary did not go downstairs to the dining-room; she wished
to remain alone to look after the child. Then watching her sleep, the
little anxiety she felt gradually wore off, and she seemed very stupid
to herself, and very good to have been so worried just now at so little.
Berthe, in fact, no longer sobbed.
Her breathing now imperceptibly raised the cotton covering. Big tears
lay in the corner of the half-closed eyelids, through whose lashes one
could see two pale sunken pupils; the plaster stuck on her cheek drew
the skin obliquely.
"It is very strange," thought Emma, "how ugly this child is!"
When at eleven o'clock Charles came back from the chemist's shop,
whither he had gone after dinner to return the remainder of the
sticking-plaster, he found his wife standing by the cradle.
"I assure you it's nothing." he said, kissing her on the forehead.
"Don't worry, my poor darling; you will make yourself ill."
He had stayed a long time at the chemist's. Although he had not seemed
much moved, Homais, nevertheless, had exerted himself to buoy him up, to
"keep up his spirits." Then they had talked of the various dangers that
threaten childhood, of the carelessness of servants. Madame Homais knew
something of it, having still upon her chest the marks left by a basin
full of soup that a cook had formerly dropped on her pinafore, and
sharpened, nor the floors waxed; there were iron gratings to the windows
and strong bars across the fireplace; the little Homais, in spite of
their spirit, could not stir without someone watching them; at the
slightest cold their father stuffed them with pectorals; and until
they were turned four they all, without pity, had to wear wadded
head-protectors. This, it is true, was a fancy of Madame Homais'; her
husband was inwardly afflicted at it. Fearing the possible consequences
of such compression to the intellectual organs. He even went so far as
to say to her, "Do you want to make Caribs or Botocudos of them?"
Charles, however, had several times tried to interrupt the conversation.
"I should like to speak to you," he had whispered in the clerk's ear,
who went upstairs in front of him.
"Can he suspect anything?" Leon asked himself. His heart beat, and he
racked his brain with surmises.
At last, Charles, having shut the door, asked him to see himself
what would be the price at Rouen of a fine daguerreotypes. It was a
sentimental surprise he intended for his wife, a delicate attention--his
portrait in a frock-coat. But he wanted first to know "how much it would
be." The inquiries would not put Monsieur Leon out, since he went to
town almost every week.
Why? Monsieur Homais suspected some "young man's affair" at the bottom
of it, an intrigue. But he was mistaken. Leon was after no love-making.
He was sadder than ever, as Madame Lefrancois saw from the amount of
food he left on his plate. To find out more about it she questioned
the tax-collector. Binet answered roughly that he "wasn't paid by the
All the same, his companion seemed very strange to him, for Leon often
threw himself back in his chair, and stretching out his arms. Complained
vaguely of life.
"It's because you don't take enough recreation," said the collector.
"If I were you I'd have a lathe."
"But I don't know how to turn," answered the clerk.
"Ah! that's true," said the other, rubbing his chin with an air of
mingled contempt and satisfaction.
Leon was weary of loving without any result; moreover he was beginning
to feel that depression caused by the repetition of the same kind of
life, when no interest inspires and no hope sustains it. He was so bored
with Yonville and its inhabitants, that the sight of certain persons,
of certain houses, irritated him beyond endurance; and the chemist, good
fellow though he was, was becoming absolutely unbearable to him. Yet
the prospect of a new condition of life frightened as much as it seduced
This apprehension soon changed into impatience, and then Paris from afar
sounded its fanfare of masked balls with the laugh of grisettes. As he
was to finish reading there, why not set out at once? What prevented
him? And he began making home-preparations; he arranged his occupations
beforehand. He furnished in his head an apartment. He would lead an
artist's life there! He would take lessons on the guitar! He would have
a dressing-gown, a Basque cap, blue velvet slippers! He even already was
admiring two crossed foils over his chimney-piece, with a death's head
on the guitar above them.
The difficulty was the consent of his mother; nothing, however, seemed
more reasonable. Even his employer advised him to go to some other
chambers where he could advance more rapidly. Taking a middle course,
then, Leon looked for some place as second clerk at Rouen; found none,
and at last wrote his mother a long letter full of details, in which
he set forth the reasons for going to live at Paris immediately. She
He did not hurry. Every day for a month Hivert carried boxes, valises,
parcels for him from Yonville to Rouen and from Rouen to Yonville;
and when Leon had packed up his wardrobe, had his three arm-chairs
restuffed, bought a stock of neckties, in a word, had made more
preparations than for a voyage around the world, he put it off from week
to week, until he received a second letter from his mother urging him to
leave, since he wanted to pass his examination before the vacation.
When the moment for the farewells had come, Madame Homais wept, Justin
sobbed; Homais, as a man of nerve, concealed his emotion; he wished to
carry his friend's overcoat himself as far as the gate of the notary,
who was taking Leon to Rouen in his carriage.
The latter had just time to bid farewell to Monsieur Bovary.
When he reached the head of the stairs, he stopped, he was so out of
breath. As he came in, Madame Bovary arose hurriedly.
"It is I again!" said Leon.
"I was sure of it!"
She bit her lips, and a rush of blood flowing under her skin made her
red from the roots of her hair to the top of her collar. She remained
standing, leaning with her shoulder against the wainscot.
"The doctor is not here?" he went on.
"He is out." She repeated, "He is out."
Then there was silence. They looked at one another and their thoughts,
confounded in the same agony, clung close together like two throbbing
"I should like to kiss Berthe," said Leon.
Emma went down a few steps and called Felicite.
He threw one long look around him that took in the walls, the
decorations, the fireplace, as if to penetrate everything, carry away
everything. But she returned, and the servant brought Berthe, who was
swinging a windmill roof downwards at the end of a string. Leon kissed
her several times on the neck.
"Good-bye, poor child! good-bye, dear little one! good-bye!" And he gave
her back to her mother.
"Take her away," she said.
They remained alone--Madame Bovary, her back turned, her face pressed
against a window-pane; Leon held his cap in his hand, knocking it softly
against his thigh.
"It is going to rain," said Emma.
"I have a cloak," he answered.
She turned around, her chin lowered, her forehead bent forward.
The light fell on it as on a piece of marble, to the curve of the
eyebrows, without one's being able to guess what Emma was seeing on the
horizon or what she was thinking within herself.
"Well, good-bye," he sighed.
She raised her head with a quick movement.
They advanced towards each other; he held out his hand; she hesitated.
"In the English fashion, then," she said, giving her own hand wholly to
him, and forcing a laugh.
Leon felt it between his fingers, and the very essence of all his being
seemed to pass down into that moist palm. Then he opened his hand; their
eyes met again, and he disappeared.
When he reached the market-place, he stopped and hid behind a pillar to
look for the last time at this white house with the four green blinds.
He thought he saw a shadow behind the window in the room; but the
curtain, sliding along the pole as though no one were touching it,
slowly opened its long oblique folds that spread out with a single
movement, and thus hung straight and motionless as a plaster wall. Leon
set off running.
From afar he saw his employer's gig in the road, and by it a man in
a coarse apron holding the horse. Homais and Monsieur Guillaumin were
talking. They were waiting for him.
"Embrace me," said the druggist with tears in his eyes. "Here is your
coat, my good friend. Mind the cold; take care of yourself; look after
"Come, Leon, jump in," said the notary.
Homais bend over the splash-board, and in a voice broken by sobs uttered
these three sad words--
"A pleasant journey!"
"Good-night," said Monsieur Guillaumin. "Give him his head." They set
out, and Homais went back.
Madame Bovary had opened her window overlooking the garden and watched
the clouds. They gathered around the sunset on the side of Rouen and
then swiftly rolled back their black columns, behind which the great
rays of the sun looked out like the golden arrows of a suspended trophy,
while the rest of the empty heavens was white as porcelain. But a gust
of wind bowed the poplars, and suddenly the rain fell; it pattered
against the green leaves.
Then the sun reappeared, the hens clucked, sparrows shook their wings in
the damp thickets, and the pools of water on the gravel as they flowed
away carried off the pink flowers of an acacia.
"Ah! how far off he must be already!" she thought.
Monsieur Homais, as usual, came at half-past six during dinner.
"Well," said he, "so we've sent off our young friend!"
"So it seems," replied the doctor. Then turning on his chair; "Any news
"Nothing much. Only my wife was a little moved this afternoon. You know
women--a nothing upsets them, especially my wife. And we should be
wrong to object to that, since their nervous organization is much more
malleable than ours."
"Poor Leon!" said Charles. "How will he live at Paris? Will he get used
Madame Bovary sighed.
"Get along!" said the chemist, smacking his lips. "The outings at
restaurants, the masked balls, the champagne--all that'll be jolly
enough, I assure you."
"I don't think he'll go wrong," objected Bovary.
"Nor do I," said Monsieur Homais quickly; "although he'll have to do
like the rest for fear of passing for a Jesuit. And you don't know what
a life those dogs lead in the Latin quarter with actresses. Besides,
students are thought a great deal of in Paris. Provided they have a few
accomplishments, they are received in the best society; there are even
ladies of the Faubourg Saint-Germain who fall in love with them, which
subsequently furnishes them opportunities for making very good matches."
"But," said the doctor, "I fear for him that down there--"
"You are right," interrupted the chemist; "that is the reverse of the
medal. And one is constantly obliged to keep one's hand in one's pocket
there. Thus, we will suppose you are in a public garden. An individual
presents himself, well dressed, even wearing an order, and whom one
would take for a diplomatist. He approaches you, he insinuates himself;
offers you a pinch of snuff, or picks up your hat. Then you become more
intimate; he takes you to a cafe, invites you to his country-house,
introduces you, between two drinks, to all sorts of people; and
three-fourths of the time it's only to plunder your watch or lead you
into some pernicious step.
"That is true," said Charles; "but I was thinking especially of
illnesses--of typhoid fever, for example, that attacks students from the
"Because of the change of regimen," continued the chemist, "and of the
perturbation that results therefrom in the whole system. And then the
water at Paris, don't you know! The dishes at restaurants, all the
spiced food, end by heating the blood, and are not worth, whatever
people may say of them, a good soup. For my own part, I have always
preferred plain living; it is more healthy. So when I was studying
pharmacy at Rouen, I boarded in a boarding house; I dined with the
And thus he went on, expounding his opinions generally and his personal
likings, until Justin came to fetch him for a mulled egg that was
"Not a moment's peace!" he cried; "always at it! I can't go out for a
minute! Like a plough-horse, I have always to be moiling and toiling.
What drudgery!" Then, when he was at the door, "By the way, do you know