فصل 13

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فصل 13

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN

Love Once More

When she got back to her hotel, Emma was shocked not to find the Yonville coach. The driver had waited fifty-three minutes, and had at last set off without her. Although there was no strong reason why she should go home, she had promised that she would be back that evening, and she knew Charles would be expecting her. In her heart she was also feeling guilty for her afternoon of love with Leon. Going home this evening was an easy way of making herself feel better about what she had just done. So she threw her things into her bag, paid her bill, hired a small carriage from the hotel and, telling the driver to drive like the wind, managed to catch up with the coach just as it was driving into Quincampoix.

She had hardly sunk into her corner when she closed her eyes, and did not open them again till they were at the bottom of the hill. Some way off, she recognized her maid, Felicite, who was waiting for her at the entrance to the village.

The driver pulled in to the side, and the maid called up to her mistress, ‘Madame, you must go at once to Monsieur Homais. Something very urgent!’

The village was as quiet as usual, but when she went into Monsieur Homais’ house she found the pharmacist waiting for her with a serious expression on his face.

‘Madame, I fear I have bad news for you. Your father-in-law is dead!’

In fact, Monsieur Bovary senior had died the previous evening quite suddenly just after getting up from dinner. As Charles was anxious that Emma should not be upset, he had asked Monsieur Homais to break the news to her. He had thought it might be less of a shock if it came from someone outside the family. Although Charles’s thought was kind, Emma was not, in fact, greatly upset, and went immediately to her house.

When he heard Emma knock, Charles came forward to greet her with open arms and said, with tears in his voice, ‘Ah! My dear…’

He bent down to kiss her, but at the touch of his lips, the memory of her lover took hold of her and she passed her hand over her face to hide her look of disgust. Nevertheless, she managed to say, ‘Yes, I know… I know…’

He showed her the letter in which his mother told him the news. Emma gave the letter back, and at dinner, out of politeness, pretended to have no appetite. But as he encouraged her, she forced herself to eat, while Charles sat facing her in motionless sorrow. Every now and then he would raise his head and look at her sadly. Once he said, ‘I wish I could have seen him one more time!’ She made no answer. Then, realizing that some sort of comment was required of her, she asked, ‘How old was your father?’

‘Fifty-eight.’

‘Oh!’

And that was all.

A quarter of an hour afterwards he added, ‘Poor mother! What will happen to her now?’

Emma had no idea, and made a silent gesture.

Feeling that her silence was the result of sorrow at the news, Charles made an effort to be more cheerful.

‘Did you have a good time yesterday?’

‘Yes,’ she replied.

When the table was cleared, neither Bovary nor Emma moved. As she continued to look at him, she found that she could not pity him. He seemed a weak thing, a poor man in every way. How could she get rid of him? The evening would be endless!

Next day Charles’s mother arrived, and the weeping started again. Emma said she had a lot of things to organize and went out. Charles thought of his father, and he was surprised at feeling so affectionate towards him. He had never thought he loved his father. Madame Bovary senior also thought of her husband. It was all over now, and even the worst of her days with him were pleasant memories.

While the son thought about his lost father, Emma thought that only forty-eight hours earlier she and Leon were together, with the world shut out, drowning in love, amazed by each other’s beauty. She tried to recover the details of that lost day of happiness and pleasure. She would have liked to hear and see nothing new in order not to lose a moment of remembered delight, but she found that her husbands noisy sorrow was driving it all from her memory.

The next afternoon, when all three of them were sitting in the garden, they saw Monsieur Lheureux coming through the gate. He had heard of the sad event, and had come to visit them. After he had expressed his sorrow at their loss, he said to Charles, ‘Could I have a word in private with your wife? It’s about that matter, er… you know!’

Charles blushed to the roots of his hair as he answered, ‘Ah, yes… of course. Darling, do you think…?’

She seemed to understand, and got up.

‘It’s nothing!’ said Charles to his mother. ‘Only a little household matter.’

As soon as they were alone, Monsieur Lheureux began to congratulate Emma on the money she and her husband would have now that Monsieur Bovary’s father had died.

‘And as you are well again,’ he continued, ‘I was coming to make proposals for another arrangement.’

What he in fact proposed was that Emma should take over the responsibility for all the debts ‘to stop her husband worrying’. Then she and Monsieur Lheureux would be able to settle all the details.

She did not understand, so she said nothing. Lheureux quickly added that there were some things that Madame could not possibly do without. For example, he would send her across a dozen metres of beautiful black silk for a dress.

‘The one you have on is good enough for the house, but you need another one for visiting. I saw that straight away, when I came in.’

He did not send the fabric; he brought it. Then he came back for the measurements. He kept coming back, doing everything he could to be of use, to make himself liked. And every time he came, he reminded her that she should be the one who managed the couple’s legal and financial affairs. He never mentioned the old bills, and she never let them enter her head. Charles certainly had said something about them when she was beginning to get better, but she had so many things to worry her at the time that she thought no more about them.

Moreover, she avoided starting any discussion about money while her mother-in-law was there. But, as soon as she had left, Emma began to amaze her husband with her practical good sense. They really did have to manage things better. She used a number of technical terms, spoke impressively about planning for the future, and never missed a chance of exaggerating how complicated it would be to make the right arrangements. Finally, she put in front of him one day a form which gave her the power to manage all his financial affairs. She had profited well from Lheureux’s lessons.

Charles - good, simple man - asked her where the form came from. She told him it had been written by Monsieur Guillaumin, the Yonville lawyer, and then added, ‘But I wouldn’t trust him further than I could see him. These lawyers are nearly as bad as the criminals they work with. Perhaps we ought to consult… No, there’s no one!’

‘What about Leon?’ said Charles, thinking hard.

He had said exactly the name Emma wanted him to say. Now she could suggest that it was difficult to explain matters by letter, and she offered to go over to Rouen and speak to him directly. Charles would not hear of troubling her. She insisted. It was a battle of kindness. Finally, she cried, ‘Now, not another word, please! I am going!’

‘How kind you are!’ he said, kissing her on the forehead.

The next morning she was off to Rouen in the coach, to consult Monsieur Leon. She stayed for three days.

They were three wonderful days. They stayed down near the harbour at the Hotel de Boulogne, and there they lived, with the curtains closed, the doors locked, the floor covered with flowers, and iced drinks brought up every morning. Towards evening they would take a boat and go and have dinner on one of the islands. As they left the town, smoke rose up among the trees, and the red sun, reflected on the oily water of the harbour, looked like blood on polished metal. They went down between the rows of boats, and the noises of the town grew fainter and fainter. When, finally, they arrived at their favourite restaurant, she untied her hat and they stepped out of the boat on to their island.

They went into a small cafe with dark fishing-nets hung up at the door, and sat themselves down in the low-ceilinged room. They ate small fried fish, followed by cherries and cream, and then went and sat on the grass. They kissed and held one another under the trees, out of view; they would have liked to live for ever in that little spot which, in their present happiness, they thought the most beautiful place on earth. They had both seen trees before, and blue sky, and grass. It was not the first time they had heard the sound of water and the music of the wind in the trees, but they had never really admired these things till now. It was as if nature had not really existed before, or had only begun to show its beauty after they had satisfied their desires.

When it was dark, they started for home again. The boat kept close to the shores of the little islands. They did not speak, but sat silently in the back of the boat, listening to the water. Emma looked across at Leon. Her head was raised, her hands were held together, her eyes raised to the sky. She was beautiful tonight. Then Leon put his hand on a piece of red ribbon lying in the bottom of the boat. The boatman took it and examined it.

‘Ah,’ he said at last, ‘maybe it belongs to one of the people I took out a few days ago. They were having fun I can tell you - ladies and gentlemen, with cakes, and bottles of wine. I remember one of them in particular. A fine, handsome man he was, with a little moustache. Lord, he was funny, though! They kept on saying, “Come on, tell us another… Adolphe… Rodolphe…” Yes, Rodolphe, that was his name.’

Emma shook from head to foot.

‘What’s the matter?’ said Leon, moving closer.

‘Oh, it’s nothing! The night air is a little cool.’

‘The sort of gentleman who has plenty of lady friends,’ added the old boatman.

The morning after this last dinner on the island, Emma had to return to Yonville, and Leon had to get back to his normal life in Rouen. However, he found this difficult and he started ignoring his friends and not looking after his business. Every day he waited for her letters; he read them again and again, and he wrote back to her immediately, remembering every detail of their time together. And unlike most memories, these did not seem to fade, but grew stronger. The need to see her became so great that one Saturday morning he ran out of his office and took the coach to Yonville.

When he came to the top of the hill above the village and, looking down over the valley, saw the church tower, he felt like a man who has gone abroad and made his fortune and now returns to visit his native village. He walked down to her house and saw that there was a light in the kitchen. He watched to see if he could catch sight of her shadow behind the curtain. But nothing could be seen.

Madame Lefrancois met him, and could not believe her eyes. He had dinner in the little dining room, as in the old days, but alone. He then went and knocked at the doctor’s door. Madame was upstairs in her bedroom, and did not come down for a quarter of an hour. The doctor appeared delighted to see him and, to their regret, stayed at home all that day and the next. The only chance to see her alone came very late in the evening, in the lane at the end of the garden - the lane where she used to meet ‘the other one’. There was a thunderstorm and they talked under an umbrella, with lightning flashing all around them.

Their separation was becoming impossible to bear. ‘I would rather be dead,’ she said, holding him, with tears in her eyes.

‘Goodbye! Goodbye! When shall I see you again?’

They turned back for one last kiss, and she promised to find some way of seeing him regularly, at least once a week. She was full of hope. She would soon have some money to play with.

In fact, she was soon behaving as if she had all the money in the world. She bought a pair of yellow curtains for her bedroom, which Monsieur Lheureux had told her were a bargain. She had dreams of a carpet and Lheureux, saying that to want a carpet was not like wishing for the moon, helped her to get one. She had begun to depend on Lheureux. She sent for him twenty times a day, and he immediately stopped what he was doing and came to see Madame. It was a dangerous friendship for Emma.

It was about this time - around the beginning of winter - that she suddenly appeared to develop a tremendous enthusiasm for music. One night, while Charles was listening to her, she began the same piece over again, stopping four times, finding fault with herself each time. He, never noticing any difference, cried, ‘Oh well done! Splendid! What did you stop for? Go on!’

‘Oh, no! It’s too bad! My fingers feel as if they were stiff with rust!’

Next day he begged her to play him something more.

‘Oh, well, if you want me to.’

Charles confessed he had heard her play better. She kept hitting the wrong notes, and finally came to a sudden stop.

‘Ah, it’s no good! I ought to have some lessons, but…’ She bit her lip and added, ‘Twenty francs a time. It’s too expensive!’

‘Well, yes… it is…’ said Charles. ‘But perhaps it could be managed a bit cheaper. Sometimes a less well-known artist can be better than a teacher with a big reputation.’

‘They are not easy to find,’ said Emma, and did not open the piano again - although whenever she went near it (if Charles was in the room) she would say sadly, ‘Ah, my poor piano!’

And when she had visitors, she never failed to tell them she had given up her music and could not now start again because of their lack of money. And they would say what a pity it was, since she had such a gift. They even spoke to Charles about it, especially the pharmacist, saying it was really too bad of him.

‘You’re making a mistake. You should never let a natural gift lie unused. Besides, my friend, you should remember that by encouraging your wife to study now, you will be saving on your child’s musical education later. In my opinion, children ought always to be taught by their own mother.’

So Charles again came back to this piano question. Emma replied bitterly that they might as well sell it, for all the good it was. But to sell this piano, something she had been so proud of, was an idea that Bovary could not accept.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘if you want a lesson now and again, it might be possible.’

‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘but it’s no good having lessons unless you take them regularly.’

That was how she managed to get permission from her husband to go to Rouen once a week to see her lover. At the end of a month, everyone said that she had made a lot of progress.

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