فصل 10

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فصل 10

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CHAPTER TEN

Presents for a Lover

Six weeks went by, and Rodolphe did not contact Emma. ‘I must not go back too soon,’ he had said to himself. ‘It would be a mistake.’

The week after the show, he went off shooting. When the hunting was over he wondered if he had left it too long, but then he thought to himself, ‘If she loved me from the first day, by now she will love me even more. I will let her wait.’

When he saw how pale she became when he entered the room, he knew he had made the right decision.

She was alone and it was getting dark. Rodolphe remained standing, and Emma was barely able to answer his first greeting.

‘I’ve been busy,’ he said. ‘I haven’t been well.’

‘Nothing serious?’ she asked quickly.

‘Oh, well, no,’ said Rodolphe, sitting down. ‘I didn’t want to come here again.’

‘Why?’

‘Can’t you guess?’

He looked at her again, but with such a look of love that she lowered her eyes with a blush.

‘Emma!’ he began again.

‘Sir!’ she cried, moving back a little.

‘Ah! You see perfectly well now that I was right not to return,’ he said sadly, ‘but I have been thinking of you; thinking and thinking till I’ve become almost mad. Ah, forgive me! I’ll go away - far away - and you will never hear of me again. But today, somehow, it seemed that something, I don’t know what, made me come to you. Who can help falling in love with someone who is so beautiful, so charming?’

It was the first time in her life Emma had heard such words. She turned towards him with tears in her eyes.

‘Oh, how kind you are!’ she said.

‘No,’ he said, ‘I love you, that’s all. You know I do, don’t you? Tell me you know it - just one word, one little word!’ And Rodolphe began to go down on his knees. But there was a noise of someone moving around in the kitchen, and he noticed that the door was not closed.

‘It would be so kind of you,’ he said, getting up, ‘if you could let me see your house. It’s such a charming place.’

Madame Bovary said she would be happy to do this, and they were just getting up when Charles came in.

‘Good morning, Doctor,’ said Rodolphe. ‘Madame,’ he continued, ‘was talking to me about her health. I was saying that a little horse riding might be a good thing.’

‘An excellent idea… You should do that, darling.’

When she replied that she had no horse, Monsieur Rodolphe offered to lend her one. She refused, and he did not insist. And that was the end of the visit.

‘Why didn’t you accept Monsieur Boulanger’s offer? It was very good of him,’ said Charles when they were alone.

She said that perhaps people would think it rather odd.

‘Well, who cares about that?’ said Charles. ‘Health, that’s the main thing. It was silly of you.’

‘And how do you expect me to go riding when I haven’t got the right clothes?’

‘We will get you some,’ he replied.

The promise of new clothes was enough to make Emma change her mind.

When Emma’s riding clothes were ready, Charles wrote to Monsieur Boulanger saying that his wife could go any time, and that they were grateful for his kind offer.

Next day, Rodolphe appeared at Charles’s door with two horses. He had put on a pair of new riding-boots, telling himself that she had certainly never seen anything like them before, and Emma was charmed with the way he looked.

As soon as he felt the grass under him, Emma’s horse started to move more quickly, and Rodolphe came along beside her. Every now and then they exchanged a word or two. She rode with her head a little forward, her hand well up and her right arm stretched out, and she let herself follow the movements of the horse. They rode on like this for fifteen or twenty minutes until, at the top of a small hill, the horses stopped.

It was early in October, and a thin mist was spread over the land. Sometimes the sun would shine through a break in the clouds and light up the distant roofs of Yonville, with the gardens near the water, the yards, the walls and the church. Emma half closed her eyes to see her house, and never had this poor village in which she lived seemed so small.

After a moment, Rodolphe and Emma turned off and rode along the edge of the wood. She turned away her head every now and again to avoid his eyes, and saw only the trunks of the trees. Just as they entered the wood, the sun came out.

‘God is with us!’ said Rodolphe.

‘You think so?’ she answered.

‘Come on! Come on!’ was his reply.

The path narrowed as they went into the wood, and sometimes, to keep away the branches, he rode close up to her and Emma felt his knee rubbing against her leg. The sky was blue now, and not a leaf moved. They got down from their horses and Emma walked a little further down the path. Rodolphe came up behind her, stretched out his arm and put it round her waist. She made an effort to break away, but he continued to hold her, so she turned and walked back towards where they had stopped.

‘Oh, stay!’ said Rodolphe. ‘We must not go yet! Stay!’

And he took her to a little pool, whose surface was covered with small green water plants.

‘It is wrong of me! Wrong, wrong!’ she cried. ‘I am mad to listen to you.’

‘Why? Emma! Emma!’

‘Oh, Rodolphe!’ she cried, dropping her head against his shoulder.

With a deep sigh she threw back her head, giving her white neck to his kisses and, almost fainting, in tears, her whole body shaking with emotion, hiding her face in her hands, she surrendered herself to him.

When evening began to fall the sun, shining through the branches, was bright in her eyes. Everywhere was silence. She could feel her heart as it began to beat again, she could feel the blood moving through her body like a stream of milk. And then, far, far away, beyond the wood, on the hills across the valley, she heard a cry, strange and distant, a voice that hung in the air, and she listened to it in silence. Rodolphe was standing with a cigar between his teeth, cleaning his fingernails with a small knife.

They returned to Yonville by the way they had come. They saw the tracks of their horses in the soil, side by side, and there were the same bushes and the same stones in the grass. Nothing about them had changed, but for her something had happened, something more surprising than if the mountains had fallen into the sea.

When she was alone in her room after dinner, she looked at herself in the mirror and was amazed at her own face. Never had her eyes looked so big, so dark, so deep. It was as if she had become another woman. And she kept saying to herself over and over again, ‘I have a lover, a lover.’

From that first day they wrote to each other every night. Emma took her letter to the end of the garden near the river and put it in a gap in the wall. Rodolphe would come and take it and put another in its place, and always she complained that his letters were too short.

The time she had with him was too short too, so whenever Charles was called out early, Emma got up, threw on some clothes and ran through the fields to Rodolphe’s house. At this early hour Rodolphe would still be asleep, and Emma seemed like a spring morning coming into his room. Laughing, he would pull her towards him and down on to his breast, and afterwards it would take them a quarter of an hour to say goodbye. Emma would burst out crying; she would have liked to stay with Rodolphe always and never leave him any more. But one day, when she came in unexpectedly, a look of annoyance passed over his face.

‘What’s the matter?’ she said. ‘Don’t you feel well? Tell me!’

At first he said nothing, but then, looking very serious about it, he told her that he was worried about these early morning visits. People would start talking about her. They needed another meeting place.

Rodolphe said he would look out for a house outside Yonville where they could be together, but all through the winter, three or four times a week, and when it was quite dark, the only place they could find was Emma’s garden. They would come together there after Charles had gone to sleep. The cold made them hold each other tighter; their eyes, though they could hardly see them in the growing darkness, seemed bigger. On wet nights they would take shelter in the surgery. She would light one of the kitchen candles and Rodolphe made himself quite at home. The sight of the bookcase and the desk - everything in the room, in fact - seemed to amuse him, and he could not stop himself from making all sorts of little jokes about Charles. This did not please Emma. She would have liked him to be a little more serious, a little more dramatic.

But Rodolphe felt no need to change his ways and was, in fact, becoming a little bored with Emma’s delicate emotions and sensitivities. She even talked about wanting a ring - a proper wedding ring - as a symbol of their union. He never spoke to her now as he used to, saying the sweet, tender things that had made her cry with happiness. He never kissed her and held her in the old way. No! That great love of theirs, on whose waves she had been carried away, seemed to be growing shallower beneath her, like the waters of a river in a dry summer, and now she could see the mud that lay beneath it!

As Emma grew to understand that this great love affair might not be for ever, Rodolphe found her becoming more and more distant, even cooler towards him. For a few weeks she even spent more time with Charles, trying to see if she could love him better. But it was no use, and Rodolphe thought to himself, ‘She’ll get over it. It’s just one of her little ways.’

He was right. All he had to do was to keep away, to miss their meeting for three or four nights, and once again her complaints stopped and she was his!

So love began for them again. Often, in the middle of the day, Emma would take up a pen and write to him. And she did not only send letters, but also presents, small expensive things that she could not afford, and which she could not ask her husband to buy.

It was Monsieur Lheureux, the draper, who was able to help her here. As soon as he heard that Madame Bovary was buying gifts for someone, he made sure he met her as often as he could. He told her all about the latest deliveries from Paris, was very helpful and never asked for his money. Emma found this a very easy way to satisfy her wish to please her lover, and she took full advantage of it. For example, she wanted to buy Rodolphe a very handsome riding whip that was on show at an umbrella shop in Rouen. And next week, there was Monsieur Lheureux putting it on her dining room table.

But the day after that, he came along with a bill for two hundred and seventy francs! Emma did not know what to do. All the drawers in the desk had been emptied out. She owed wages to the servants, and Bovary was anxiously waiting for a payment from Monsieur Derozerays, who, in previous years, had always paid his doctor’s bill some time in July.

At first she managed to get rid of Lheureux, but in the end he lost patience. He had to pay his bills, other people were asking him for the money! He would be forced to ask her to return the goods.

‘Very well, take them,’ said Emma.

‘Oh, I was only joking!’ he replied. ‘The only thing that worries me is the riding whip. I know! I’ll ask the doctor to let me have it back.’

‘No, don’t!’ she cried out.

‘Aha, I’ve got you!’ thought Lheureux to himself. And, sure of being on the right track, he went out, saying under his breath, ‘Right! We shall see, we shall see!’

She was wondering how she was going to get out of this difficulty when the maid came in and put a little packet on the table, ‘From Monsieur Derozerays.’ Emma took the envelope and tore it open. It was enough money to pay her debts! She heard Charles coming up the stairs and, without thinking, she threw the money to the back of the drawer, locked it, and took out the key.

Three days later Lheureux reappeared.

‘I want to suggest an arrangement,’ he said. ‘If, instead of the sum agreed, you would…’

‘There you are,’ said she, putting the four hundred francs in his hand. She was safe for the moment, but what would happen next time? What could she do to escape?

Her dream now was to go away with Rodolphe. One night when they met in the garden, and she was at her saddest and most beautiful, he asked her what he could do to help her, to bring back the smile to her face.

‘What must we do? What do you want?’

‘Take me away!’ she cried. ‘Take me from here… Oh, I beg you!’

‘But…’ Rodolphe began.

‘Yes?’

‘What about your little girl?’

She thought a minute or two and then answered, ‘We’ll take her with us. It’s the only thing to do.’

‘What a woman!’ he said to himself, as he saw her disappear. Someone was calling.

But now Emma believed that she would be able to escape, and this became her only topic of conversation with Rodolphe. She would lean her head on his shoulder and whisper, ‘Ah, when we are in the coach! Can you imagine it? Is it possible? It seems to me that the moment I feel it moving, it will be as if we were going up in a balloon, as if we were going to the clouds. Do you know, I’m counting the days! Aren’t you?’

Never had Madame Bovary looked so beautiful as now. Charles thought her as delicious as on the day she became his bride. When he came home late at night, he did not dare to wake her. The night-lamp threw a ring of light on the ceiling as she lay sleeping beside her daughter. Charles would stand and look at them, dreaming of the future, of his beautiful wife and his growing child. But he was not in Emma’s dreams; she was heading for a new land in a coach pulled by four white horses and with her lover by her side.

She was so certain she would be leaving that she sent for Monsieur Lheureux and ordered a heavy travelling coat and a travelling case. She told him to keep the things at the shop when they arrived, and she would collect them in a week or two. It was, in fact, the following month that they were going to run away. She would leave Yonville as if she were going shopping in Rouen. Rodolphe would have booked the seats, arranged the passports, and written to Paris in order to have the mail coach all to themselves as far as Marseilles. There they would buy a carriage and go right through to Genoa. In all this planning the child was never mentioned, and Rodolphe avoided any reference to her; perhaps Emma had given up the idea of taking her.

However, Rodolphe then found he needed a fortnight to complete certain business matters; then, after a week, he needed another fortnight. Then he found he was not feeling very well so there was another delay, and then he went away on a journey. The whole of August went by and finally, after all these delays, the date of their departure was fixed for 4 September, a Monday.

On the evening of their last Saturday in Yonville, Rodolphe came to see her earlier than usual.

‘Is everything ready?’ she asked.

‘Yes.’

‘You’re sad,’ said Emma.

‘No. Why?’

‘Is it because you are going away?’ she went on. ‘Leaving the things you love, the things that have been your life? Ah, I understand! But I, I have nothing in the world! You are everything to me. And so I shall be everything to you.’

‘Oh, what a lovely night!’ said Rodolphe.

‘We shall have many more nights together,’ she answered. And then, as if speaking to herself, she went on, ‘Yes, it will be good to travel. But why is my heart so sad? Is it fear of the unknown… or the break with all I have been used to? Or else…? No, it is because I am too happy in my happiness! How weak I am! Forgive me!’

‘There is still time,’ he exclaimed. ‘Think! You may regret it later.’

‘Never!’ she cried.

The clock struck twelve.

‘Midnight!’ she said. ‘Tomorrow is already here! We have just one more day to wait!’

He rose to go.

‘You’ve got the passports?’

‘Yes.’

‘You haven’t forgotten anything?’

‘No.’

‘You’re sure?’

‘Quite sure.’

‘You’ll be waiting for me at the Hotel de Provence, won’t you? At twelve o’clock?’

He nodded.

‘Tomorrow, then!’ said Emma, and she watched him go.

He did not look back.

After a few minutes Rodolphe stopped, and when he saw her white figure disappear into the shadows his heart began to beat so wildly that he had to lean against a tree to keep himself from falling.

‘What a fool I am! But, never mind, she was a fine little woman!’ And as he said it, Emma’s beauty, the thought of all the times they had had together, came back into his mind. For a moment tears came to his eyes, but then he felt a wave of anger against her. ‘After all,’ he cried, ‘I couldn’t just go and bury myself alive like that - and have to look after the child too! And think of the worry, the expense! Ah, no, it would have been too silly!’

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