فصل 05

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فصل 05

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CHAPTER FIVE

Moving Home

Often, when Charles was out of the house, Emma would go to the cupboard and take out the green silk cigar-case she had hidden there. It must have belonged to the Viscount. Perhaps it was a present from a lady friend in Paris, made with love and care in every stitch. Paris! What sort of a place was it? ‘Paris!’ - she said the name under her breath, because she loved the sound of it. It was like the great bell in an old church; the word seemed to add a golden light to everything around it - even to the labels of her little pots of cheap make-up.

She bought a guidebook to Paris and, with her fingertip on the map, she would make little imaginary journeys around the capital. She pretended she was walking along the wide streets, looking in wonder at the great houses. At last, growing tired, she would let her eyes close, and then in the darkness she dreamed she saw the flame of the street lamps, and the steps of the carriages being let down at the entrance to the theatre.

She buried herself in women’s magazines, reading every word about opera and fashion and the life of the rich. She read the latest novels - even bringing her book with her to the table and turning the pages while Charles ate and talked. And as she read, the memory of the Viscount came back to her and her dreams became more important, more real to her than her life as a country doctor’s wife.

But she tried to improve things in her house. She taught her maid to hand a glass of water held in a white cloth, to knock before entering a room, to dress her mistress. In the daytime, Emma wore a long dress with a silk belt and little red silk shoes. She had bought herself a writing-case, a pen-holder and some envelopes, although she had no one to write to. She thought she would like to travel, or to go back to her school. She wanted to die - and she wanted to go and live in Paris.

And Charles rode from farm to farm on his old horse. He ate breakfast in farmhouse kitchens, visited sick people in their dirty beds, got blood on his hands and face and listened to the last words of the dying. But every night he came home to a fire, a good dinner, a comfortable chair, and a pretty wife who had so many little ways of giving pleasure. It might be paper shades for the candles, a new ribbon for her dress or an extraordinary name for a very ordinary dish, which Charles ate happily, enjoying every bit of it. Everything Emma did added something to the pleasure of his senses and of his home. It was like finding gold-dust in the middle of the narrow pathway of his life.

He felt well, and looked well. People liked him. He talked to their children, did not drink, could be trusted and was especially good with the chest complaints that were so common among country people. A major reason for Charles’s success was that he was so afraid of killing his patients that he never gave them anything more than simple medicines - but he was not frightened of surgery, and had a strong wrist when he pulled teeth. The people of the region were happy with their doctor.

Charles did have some ambitions. He tried to read a professional journal after dinner, but the warmth of the room and the good meal he had eaten would send him to sleep after five minutes. And there he sat, his head resting on his two hands and his long hair hanging over his face. Emma looked at him and asked herself why she had not got one of those strong, silent men for a husband, men who sit up at night with their books, and become famous, if not rich. She would have liked the name of Bovary, which was hers now, to be famous, to be seen in the bookshops, talked about in the papers, known all over France. But Charles did not have that kind of ambition, and sometimes she felt like hitting him. ‘What a man! What a poor kind of man!’ she said to herself, biting her lips.

So as time went on, Emma felt herself less and less able to put up with her husband. He was growing more unpleasant as he got older. He sucked his teeth after eating, and made a horrible noise at every mouthful of soup he swallowed. As he was beginning to put on weight, his eyes, which were already small, looked as if they would start to disappear into his increasingly fat face.

Deep down in her heart, she was waiting for something to happen. She did not know what it would be, what the wind would blow to her. But every morning when she awoke, she hoped it would come that day. She listened to every sound, watched every new face in the street outside her house for a sign, and could not understand why nothing happened. And then at sunset, sadder than ever, she would long for the next day to come.

The spring came again. With the first touch of heat, when the apple trees were in flower, she began to have attacks of dizziness. And when July came, she counted on her fingers how many weeks it would be to October, thinking that perhaps the Marquis d’Andervilliers would be giving another dance at La Vaubyessard. But September came and went, and no one called or wrote.

After this disappointment there was the same emptiness in her heart, and the empty days began again as before. The future was like a corridor in which there was no light, and at the end of it only a closed door. She gave up her music. What was the use of playing? Who was there to hear? She stopped her drawing. What was the good, what was the good of it all? Even sewing bored her.

‘There’s nothing left to read,’ she said to herself. And there she sat, staring at the falling rain.

Was this hopeless life going to last for ever? Was there no escape? She knew she was just as good as the luckier ones. At La Vaubyessard she had seen great ladies who were not as pretty or intelligent as her; why was she so unlucky? She would lean her head against the wall and weep, wanting so much for a life of excitement, pleasures, all the delights which must be out there in the world, but which were not hers. There were days when she would talk and talk; then the excitement would die away, and she would fall back into a kind of dream world and sit without moving or saying a word.

As she was always saying how she hated Tostes, Charles thought her illness must be caused by the place itself. The idea grew on him, and he began seriously to think of going elsewhere. Then she started drinking vinegar to make herself lose weight, coughed a little dry cough and could not touch her food.

It was hard for Charles to leave Tostes. He had been there for four years and was building a good practice. However, what must be must be. He took her to Rouen to see another doctor. The doctor said it was a case of nerves. What she needed was a change. So Charles looked around all over the place, and at last heard of a busy little market town called Yonville-l’Abbaye, somewhere in the Neufchatel area, where the doctor had recently left town and no replacement had been found. He wrote to the local pharmacist asking him to let him know how many people there were in the place, what sort of competition there was, and how much a year the other man used to make. The answers were satisfactory, and Charles decided he would make a move in the spring if Emma’s health had not improved.

One day, when she was emptying a drawer in preparation for the move, Emma felt something sharp against her finger. It was the piece of wire around her wedding flowers, faded and dusty now, and the ribbon eaten by insects. She threw them on the fire, where they burned like a handful of dry grass and then lay like a red bush in the fireplace. As she watched them burn, the paper berries burst, the wire bent and twisted, and the paper flowers were held in the hot air like black insects until, at last, they flew up the chimney.

In March, when they left Tostes, Madame Bovary was pregnant.

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