Madame bovary by Gustave Flaubert

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absent forever, as impossible and annihilated, as if he had been about

to die and were passing under her eyes.

There was a sound of steps on the pavement. Charles looked up, and

through the lowered blinds he saw at the corner of the market in

the broad sunshine Dr. Canivet, who was wiping his brow with his

handkerchief. Homais, behind him, was carrying a large red box in his

hand, and both were going towards the chemist's.
Then with a feeling of sudden tenderness and discouragement Charles

turned to his wife saying to her--

"Oh, kiss me, my own!"
"Leave me!" she said, red with anger.
"What is the matter?" he asked, stupefied. "Be calm; compose yourself.

You know well enough that I love you. Come!"

"Enough!" she cried with a terrible look.
And escaping from the room, Emma closed the door so violently that the

barometer fell from the wall and smashed on the floor.

Charles sank back into his arm-chair overwhelmed, trying to discover

what could be wrong with her, fancying some nervous illness, weeping,

and vaguely feeling something fatal and incomprehensible whirling round

When Rodolphe came to the garden that evening, he found his mistress

waiting for him at the foot of the steps on the lowest stair. They threw

their arms round one another, and all their rancour melted like snow

beneath the warmth of that kiss.

Chapter Twelve

They began to love one another again. Often, even in the middle of the

day, Emma suddenly wrote to him, then from the window made a sign to

Justin, who, taking his apron off, quickly ran to La Huchette. Rodolphe

would come; she had sent for him to tell him that she was bored, that

her husband was odious, her life frightful.
"But what can I do?" he cried one day impatiently.
"Ah! if you would--"
She was sitting on the floor between his knees, her hair loose, her look

"Why, what?" said Rodolphe.

She sighed.
"We would go and live elsewhere--somewhere!"
"You are really mad!" he said laughing. "How could that be possible?"
She returned to the subject; he pretended not to understand, and turned

the conversation.

What he did not understand was all this worry about so simple an affair

as love. She had a motive, a reason, and, as it were, a pendant to her

Her tenderness, in fact, grew each day with her repulsion to her

husband. The more she gave up herself to the one, the more she loathed

the other. Never had Charles seemed to her so disagreeable, to have

such stodgy fingers, such vulgar ways, to be so dull as when they found

themselves together after her meeting with Rodolphe. Then, while playing

the spouse and virtue, she was burning at the thought of that head whose

black hair fell in a curl over the sunburnt brow, of that form at once

so strong and elegant, of that man, in a word, who had such experience

in his reasoning, such passion in his desires. It was for him that she

filed her nails with the care of a chaser, and that there was never

enough cold-cream for her skin, nor of patchouli for her handkerchiefs.

She loaded herself with bracelets, rings, and necklaces. When he

was coming she filled the two large blue glass vases with roses, and

prepared her room and her person like a courtesan expecting a prince.

The servant had to be constantly washing linen, and all day Felicite

did not stir from the kitchen, where little Justin, who often kept her

company, watched her at work.
With his elbows on the long board on which she was ironing, he

greedily watched all these women's clothes spread about him, the dimity

petticoats, the fichus, the collars, and the drawers with running

strings, wide at the hips and growing narrower below.

"What is that for?" asked the young fellow, passing his hand over the

crinoline or the hooks and eyes.

"Why, haven't you ever seen anything?" Felicite answered laughing. "As

if your mistress, Madame Homais, didn't wear the same."

"Oh, I daresay! Madame Homais!" And he added with a meditative air, "As

if she were a lady like madame!"

But Felicite grew impatient of seeing him hanging round her. She was six

years older than he, and Theodore, Monsieur Guillaumin's servant, was

beginning to pay court to her.
"Let me alone," she said, moving her pot of starch. "You'd better be

off and pound almonds; you are always dangling about women. Before you

meddle with such things, bad boy, wait till you've got a beard to your

"Oh, don't be cross! I'll go and clean her boots."

And he at once took down from the shelf Emma's boots, all coated with

mud, the mud of the rendezvous, that crumbled into powder beneath his

fingers, and that he watched as it gently rose in a ray of sunlight.
"How afraid you are of spoiling them!" said the servant, who wasn't so

particular when she cleaned them herself, because as soon as the stuff

of the boots was no longer fresh madame handed them over to her.
Emma had a number in her cupboard that she squandered one after the

other, without Charles allowing himself the slightest observation. So

also he disbursed three hundred francs for a wooden leg that she thought

proper to make a present of to Hippolyte. Its top was covered with cork,

and it had spring joints, a complicated mechanism, covered over by black

trousers ending in a patent-leather boot. But Hippolyte, not daring

to use such a handsome leg every day, begged Madame Bovary to get him

another more convenient one. The doctor, of course, had again to defray

the expense of this purchase.
So little by little the stable-man took up his work again. One saw him

running about the village as before, and when Charles heard from afar

the sharp noise of the wooden leg, he at once went in another direction.
It was Monsieur Lheureux, the shopkeeper, who had undertaken the order;

this provided him with an excuse for visiting Emma. He chatted with her

about the new goods from Paris, about a thousand feminine trifles, made

himself very obliging, and never asked for his money. Emma yielded to

this lazy mode of satisfying all her caprices. Thus she wanted to have

a very handsome ridding-whip that was at an umbrella-maker's at Rouen

to give to Rodolphe. The week after Monsieur Lheureux placed it on her

But the next day he called on her with a bill for two hundred and

seventy francs, not counting the centimes. Emma was much embarrassed;

all the drawers of the writing-table were empty; they owed over a

fortnight's wages to Lestiboudois, two quarters to the servant, for any

quantity of other things, and Bovary was impatiently expecting Monsieur

Derozeray's account, which he was in the habit of paying every year

about Midsummer.

She succeeded at first in putting off Lheureux. At last he lost

patience; he was being sued; his capital was out, and unless he got some

in he should be forced to take back all the goods she had received.
"Oh, very well, take them!" said Emma.
"I was only joking," he replied; "the only thing I regret is the whip.

My word! I'll ask monsieur to return it to me."

"No, no!" she said.
"Ah! I've got you!" thought Lheureux.
And, certain of his discovery, he went out repeating to himself in an

undertone, and with his usual low whistle--

"Good! we shall see! we shall see!"
She was thinking how to get out of this when the servant coming in

put on the mantelpiece a small roll of blue paper "from Monsieur

Derozeray's." Emma pounced upon and opened it. It contained fifteen

napoleons; it was the account. She heard Charles on the stairs; threw

the gold to the back of her drawer, and took out the key.
Three days after Lheureux reappeared.
"I have an arrangement to suggest to you," he said. "If, instead of the

sum agreed on, you would take--"

"Here it is," she said placing fourteen napoleons in his hand.
The tradesman was dumfounded. Then, to conceal his disappointment, he

was profuse in apologies and proffers of service, all of which Emma

declined; then she remained a few moments fingering in the pocket of

her apron the two five-franc pieces that he had given her in change.

She promised herself she would economise in order to pay back later on.

"Pshaw!" she thought, "he won't think about it again."

Besides the riding-whip with its silver-gilt handle, Rodolphe had

received a seal with the motto Amor nel cor* furthermore, a scarf for

a muffler, and, finally, a cigar-case exactly like the Viscount's, that

Charles had formerly picked up in the road, and that Emma had kept.

These presents, however, humiliated him; he refused several; she

insisted, and he ended by obeying, thinking her tyrannical and

*A loving heart.
Then she had strange ideas.
"When midnight strikes," she said, "you must think of me."
And if he confessed that he had not thought of her, there were floods of

reproaches that always ended with the eternal question--

"Do you love me?"
"Why, of course I love you," he answered.
"A great deal?"
"You haven't loved any others?"
"Did you think you'd got a virgin?" he exclaimed laughing.
Emma cried, and he tried to console her, adorning his protestations with

"Oh," she went on, "I love you! I love you so that I could not live

without you, do you see? There are times when I long to see you again,

when I am torn by all the anger of love. I ask myself, Where is

he? Perhaps he is talking to other women. They smile upon him; he

approaches. Oh no; no one else pleases you. There are some more

beautiful, but I love you best. I know how to love best. I am your

servant, your concubine! You are my king, my idol! You are good, you are

beautiful, you are clever, you are strong!"
He had so often heard these things said that they did not strike him as

original. Emma was like all his mistresses; and the charm of novelty,

gradually falling away like a garment, laid bare the eternal monotony

of passion, that has always the same forms and the same language. He

did not distinguish, this man of so much experience, the difference of

sentiment beneath the sameness of expression. Because lips libertine

and venal had murmured such words to him, he believed but little in the

candour of hers; exaggerated speeches hiding mediocre affections must be

discounted; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in

the emptiest metaphors, since no one can ever give the exact measure of

his needs, nor of his conceptions, nor of his sorrows; and since human

speech is like a cracked tin kettle, on which we hammer out tunes to

make bears dance when we long to move the stars.
But with that superior critical judgment that belongs to him who, in no

matter what circumstance, holds back, Rodolphe saw other delights to be

got out of this love. He thought all modesty in the way. He treated her

quite sans facon.* He made of her something supple and corrupt. Hers

was an idiotic sort of attachment, full of admiration for him, of

voluptuousness for her, a beatitude that benumbed her; her soul sank

into this drunkenness, shrivelled up, drowned in it, like Clarence in

his butt of Malmsey.


By the mere effect of her love Madame Bovary's manners changed.

Her looks grew bolder, her speech more free; she even committed the

impropriety of walking out with Monsieur Rodolphe, a cigarette in her

mouth, "as if to defy the people." At last, those who still doubted

doubted no longer when one day they saw her getting out of the

"Hirondelle," her waist squeezed into a waistcoat like a man; and Madame

Bovary senior, who, after a fearful scene with her husband, had taken

refuge at her son's, was not the least scandalised of the women-folk.

Many other things displeased her. First, Charles had not attended to

her advice about the forbidding of novels; then the "ways of the house"

annoyed her; she allowed herself to make some remarks, and there were

quarrels, especially one on account of Felicite.
Madame Bovary senior, the evening before, passing along the passage,

had surprised her in company of a man--a man with a brown collar, about

forty years old, who, at the sound of her step, had quickly escaped

through the kitchen. Then Emma began to laugh, but the good lady grew

angry, declaring that unless morals were to be laughed at one ought to

look after those of one's servants.

"Where were you brought up?" asked the daughter-in-law, with so

impertinent a look that Madame Bovary asked her if she were not perhaps

defending her own case.
"Leave the room!" said the young woman, springing up with a bound.
"Emma! Mamma!" cried Charles, trying to reconcile them.
But both had fled in their exasperation. Emma was stamping her feet as

she repeated--

"Oh! what manners! What a peasant!"
He ran to his mother; she was beside herself. She stammered
"She is an insolent, giddy-headed thing, or perhaps worse!"
And she was for leaving at once if the other did not apologise. So

Charles went back again to his wife and implored her to give way; he

knelt to her; she ended by saying--
"Very well! I'll go to her."
And in fact she held out her hand to her mother-in-law with the dignity

of a marchioness as she said--

"Excuse me, madame."
Then, having gone up again to her room, she threw herself flat on her

bed and cried there like a child, her face buried in the pillow.

She and Rodolphe had agreed that in the event of anything extraordinary

occurring, she should fasten a small piece of white paper to the blind,

so that if by chance he happened to be in Yonville, he could hurry to

the lane behind the house. Emma made the signal; she had been waiting

three-quarters of an hour when she suddenly caught sight of Rodolphe at

the corner of the market. She felt tempted to open the window and call

him, but he had already disappeared. She fell back in despair.
Soon, however, it seemed to her that someone was walking on the

pavement. It was he, no doubt. She went downstairs, crossed the yard. He

was there outside. She threw herself into his arms.
"Do take care!" he said.
"Ah! if you knew!" she replied.
And she began telling him everything, hurriedly, disjointedly,

exaggerating the facts, inventing many, and so prodigal of parentheses

that he understood nothing of it.
"Come, my poor angel, courage! Be comforted! be patient!"
"But I have been patient; I have suffered for four years. A love like

ours ought to show itself in the face of heaven. They torture me! I can

bear it no longer! Save me!"
She clung to Rodolphe. Her eyes, full of tears, flashed like flames

beneath a wave; her breast heaved; he had never loved her so much, so

that he lost his head and said "What is, it? What do you wish?"
"Take me away," she cried, "carry me off! Oh, I pray you!"
And she threw herself upon his mouth, as if to seize there the

unexpected consent if breathed forth in a kiss.

"But--" Rodolphe resumed.
"Your little girl!"
She reflected a few moments, then replied--
"We will take her! It can't be helped!"
"What a woman!" he said to himself, watching her as she went. For she

had run into the garden. Someone was calling her.

On the following days Madame Bovary senior was much surprised at the

change in her daughter-in-law. Emma, in fact, was showing herself more

docile, and even carried her deference so far as to ask for a recipe for

pickling gherkins.

Was it the better to deceive them both? Or did she wish by a sort of

voluptuous stoicism to feel the more profoundly the bitterness of the

things she was about to leave?
But she paid no heed to them; on the contrary, she lived as lost in the

anticipated delight of her coming happiness.

It was an eternal subject for conversation with Rodolphe. She leant on

his shoulder murmuring--

"Ah! when we are in the mail-coach! Do you think about it? Can it be? It

seems to me that the moment I feel the carriage start, it will be as if

we were rising in a balloon, as if we were setting out for the clouds.

Do you know that I count the hours? And you?"

Never had Madame Bovary been so beautiful as at this period; she had

that indefinable beauty that results from joy, from enthusiasm, from

success, and that is only the harmony of temperament with circumstances.

Her desires, her sorrows, the experience of pleasure, and her ever-young

illusions, that had, as soil and rain and winds and the sun make flowers

grow, gradually developed her, and she at length blossomed forth in all

the plenitude of her nature. Her eyelids seemed chiselled expressly for

her long amorous looks in which the pupil disappeared, while a strong

inspiration expanded her delicate nostrils and raised the fleshy corner

of her lips, shaded in the light by a little black down. One would have

thought that an artist apt in conception had arranged the curls of hair

upon her neck; they fell in a thick mass, negligently, and with the

changing chances of their adultery, that unbound them every day. Her

voice now took more mellow infections, her figure also; something subtle

and penetrating escaped even from the folds of her gown and from the

line of her foot. Charles, as when they were first married, thought her

delicious and quite irresistible.
When he came home in the middle of the night, he did not dare to wake

her. The porcelain night-light threw a round trembling gleam upon the

ceiling, and the drawn curtains of the little cot formed as it were a

white hut standing out in the shade, and by the bedside Charles looked

at them. He seemed to hear the light breathing of his child. She would

grow big now; every season would bring rapid progress. He already saw

her coming from school as the day drew in, laughing, with ink-stains on

her jacket, and carrying her basket on her arm. Then she would have to

be sent to the boarding-school; that would cost much; how was it to

be done? Then he reflected. He thought of hiring a small farm in the

neighbourhood, that he would superintend every morning on his way to his

patients. He would save up what he brought in; he would put it in the

savings-bank. Then he would buy shares somewhere, no matter where;

besides, his practice would increase; he counted upon that, for he

wanted Berthe to be well-educated, to be accomplished, to learn to play

the piano. Ah! how pretty she would be later on when she was fifteen,

when, resembling her mother, she would, like her, wear large straw hats

in the summer-time; from a distance they would be taken for two sisters.

He pictured her to himself working in the evening by their side beneath

the light of the lamp; she would embroider him slippers; she would look

after the house; she would fill all the home with her charm and her

gaiety. At last, they would think of her marriage; they would find her

some good young fellow with a steady business; he would make her happy;

this would last for ever.

Emma was not asleep; she pretended to be; and while he dozed off by her

side she awakened to other dreams.

To the gallop of four horses she was carried away for a week towards a

new land, whence they would return no more. They went on and on, their

arms entwined, without a word. Often from the top of a mountain there

suddenly glimpsed some splendid city with domes, and bridges, and

ships, forests of citron trees, and cathedrals of white marble, on whose

pointed steeples were storks' nests. They went at a walking-pace because

of the great flag-stones, and on the ground there were bouquets of

flowers, offered you by women dressed in red bodices. They heard the

chiming of bells, the neighing of mules, together with the murmur of

guitars and the noise of fountains, whose rising spray refreshed heaps

of fruit arranged like a pyramid at the foot of pale statues that smiled

beneath playing waters. And then, one night they came to a fishing

village, where brown nets were drying in the wind along the cliffs and

in front of the huts. It was there that they would stay; they would live

in a low, flat-roofed house, shaded by a palm-tree, in the heart of a

gulf, by the sea. They would row in gondolas, swing in hammocks, and

their existence would be easy and large as their silk gowns, warm and

star-spangled as the nights they would contemplate. However, in the

immensity of this future that she conjured up, nothing special stood

forth; the days, all magnificent, resembled each other like waves; and

it swayed in the horizon, infinite, harmonised, azure, and bathed in

sunshine. But the child began to cough in her cot or Bovary snored

more loudly, and Emma did not fall asleep till morning, when the dawn

whitened the windows, and when little Justin was already in the square

taking down the shutters of the chemist's shop.
She had sent for Monsieur Lheureux, and had said to him--
"I want a cloak--a large lined cloak with a deep collar."
"You are going on a journey?" he asked.
"No; but--never mind. I may count on you, may I not, and quickly?"
He bowed.
"Besides, I shall want," she went on, "a trunk--not too heavy--handy."
"Yes, yes, I understand. About three feet by a foot and a half, as they

are being made just now."

"And a travelling bag."
"Decidedly," thought Lheureux, "there's a row on here."
"And," said Madame Bovary, taking her watch from her belt, "take this;

you can pay yourself out of it."

But the tradesman cried out that she was wrong; they knew one another;

did he doubt her? What childishness!

She insisted, however, on his taking at least the chain, and Lheureux

had already put it in his pocket and was going, when she called him

"You will leave everything at your place. As to the cloak"--she seemed

to be reflecting--"do not bring it either; you can give me the maker's

address, and tell him to have it ready for me."
It was the next month that they were to run away. She was to leave

Yonville as if she was going on some business to Rouen. Rodolphe would

have booked the seats, procured the passports, and even have written to

Paris in order to have the whole mail-coach reserved for them as far as

Marseilles, where they would buy a carriage, and go on thence without

stopping to Genoa. She would take care to send her luggage to Lheureux

whence it would be taken direct to the "Hirondelle," so that no one

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