فصل 07

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فصل 07

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CHAPTER SEVEN

In Love

Next morning, when she awoke, Emma saw the clerk walking across the square. She was in her dressing-gown. He looked up and took off his hat. She gave a little nod and quickly shut the window.

All day long, Leon waited for six o’clock to arrive. But when he went round to the inn, the only person there was Monsieur Binet, the tax collector, already seated at the table. The dinner of the night before had been an important event for Leon. It was the first time in his life that he had talked to a woman for a whole evening. How did he manage to tell her, and in such brilliant language, so many things he could not have expressed so well before? Unfortunately, it did not look as if he would have the chance to repeat his performance for the moment.

Monsieur Homais, the pharmacist, however, was able to visit Madame Bovary and show what a good neighbour he was. He told her all about the shopkeepers, where to get her butter cheaply, and he helped her find a gardener. It has to be said, however, that he was not doing this out of pure kindness. Monsieur Homais had, a year earlier, broken the law which forbade the practice of medicine by all unqualified persons. Someone had told the authorities, and Monsieur Homais had been given a very severe warning by the magistrate in Rouen. The problem was that he still liked to give quick, innocent consultations in his shop, but the Mayor did not like him, others were jealous, and he was playing a dangerous game. So Monsieur Homais thought to himself that if he did things for Monsieur and Madame Bovary, Monsieur Bovary would be grateful, and a grateful man does not make complaints to the authorities in Rouen.

Every morning, Homais would come across with the newspaper and often, during the afternoon, he would leave his shop for a minute or two to chat with the new doctor. Charles was not a happy man; patients did not come. He sat for hour after hour in silence, or he went to sleep in his surgery or watched his wife sew. He even started doing some small jobs at home, trying to paint the bedroom with some paint the men had left behind. Money was his great worry. He had spent such a lot on repairs at Tostes, on his wife’s clothes and on moving, and most of his savings and Emma’s money had gone in two years.

But Charles also had something pleasant to think about, as his wife was expecting a child, and the closer they got to the time, the more loving he became. It was another link between them, real evidence of their marriage. When he watched her heavier walk, when she sat opposite him at the table, or when she was in her armchair after dinner, he could not stop himself getting up, kissing her, stroking her face, calling her ‘little mother’. The idea of being a father pleased him very much. He lacked nothing.

At first Emma was surprised by his attention; then all she wanted was to have the baby as soon as possible, so that she would know how it felt to be a mother. Their shortage of money meant that she could not buy all the things she wanted for the new arrival, so perhaps she did not feel as much love for the child she carried as she wanted to give. But she thought about it all the time.

She hoped it would be a boy. He should be strong and dark, and they would call him George. And the thought of having a boy somehow made her feel better. A man would be free, while a woman is always limited. She is weaker and economically dependent, and the habits of society do not permit her the same freedom.

Emma’s baby was born on a Sunday morning at about six, just as the sun was rising.

‘It’s a girl,’ said Charles.

She turned away her head and fainted.

Madame Homais came to the house as soon as the news was given to congratulate her, and so did Madame Lefrancois of the Lion d’Or. The pharmacist offered his congratulations through the half-open door. He then asked to see the baby and declared it was the most well formed he had ever seen.

As the doctor felt that his wife was not strong enough to feed the baby herself, the little girl was sent to a wet nurse. With nothing else to do in the days after the birth, Emma tried to think of a name for her daughter. First she went through names with Italian endings, like Clara, Louisa, Amanda. She rather liked old names like Galsuinde, or Yseult or Leocadie. Charles wanted the child to be called after her mother. Emma said no.

At last Emma remembered that at the Chateau de la Vaubyessard she had heard the Marquise call a young woman by the name of Berthe. That decision was made.

Four or five weeks after the birth, Emma felt a sudden need to see her little girl, so she set out in the direction of the wet nurse’s house at the far end of the village. It was midday and the sun beat down from a cloudless sky. A hot wind was blowing and when she had gone some way, Emma began to feel weak from the effort of walking. She started to think she should return home or go in somewhere and sit down.

Just then, Monsieur Leon came out from a house close by, with some papers under his arm. He came up and spoke, and took her into the shade outside Lheureux’s shop. Madame Bovary said she was on her way to see her baby, but that she was beginning to feel tired.

‘If…’ began Leon, but he stopped, not daring to continue.

‘Are you very busy?’ she asked.

And when the clerk said that he was not, she begged him to walk with her.

To reach the nurse’s house they had to go along to the end of the street and then turn, as if they were going to the cemetery. They set off side by side, and recognized the house by an old tree that shaded it. It was a low, badly maintained house with a brown roof and small, untidy garden.

Hearing the gate open, the woman came out, carrying a baby at her breast. With her other hand she was dragging along a poor, miserable-looking two-year-old with spots all over his face.

‘Come in,’ she said. ‘Your little one is in there asleep.’

She went into the dark bedroom, and showed Emma where the little girl was sleeping. Emma took the baby in her arms, wrapped up in a dirty blanket, and began to sing gently as she held her.

Leon walked up and down the room. It seemed strange to him to see this beautiful, elegantly dressed woman in such poor surroundings. Madame Bovary saw him looking and blushed bright red. He turned away, thinking he had perhaps seemed too curious, as she gave the baby back to the nurse. It had just been sick all over her collar.

Having lost enthusiasm for her baby, Emma again took Monsieur Leon’s arm, and they left the nurse holding the child and waving as they went down the path. Emma walked quickly for some distance, then slowed down. As she looked around her, her eyes rested on the young man’s shoulder and on his well-cut coat with its smart black collar. She noticed how his golden brown hair was smooth and carefully brushed, and that his fingernails were longer and much more carefully cared for than most fingernails in Yonville.

They went back to the village on the path beside the river. The stream flowed on noiselessly, deep and cool; dark plants moved in the water like long green hair, and insects walked over its smooth surface or waited with shining wings on the tall grass at the water’s edge. All around, as far as the eye could see, the fields had emptied of people. It was dinner-time in the farms, and the only sounds that fell on the ears of the young woman and her companion were their footsteps on the path, the words they spoke and Emma’s dress brushing against the grass. The garden walls were hot in the sun, and the wild plants that were growing between the stones had died. As she passed, Madame Bovary touched some of their dry flowers, which made them fall into yellow dust.

They were talking about some Spanish dancers who were going to perform at the theatre in Rouen.

‘Will you go?’ she asked.

‘If I can,’ he replied.

Was this all they had to say to one another? They tried to speak of ordinary, everyday things, but all the time they felt a deep change coming over them. It was like a whisper from the soul, deep down, stronger than the spoken word. Lost in wonder at this strange sweetness, they did not speak of it or try to explain what was happening. But both felt that there could be future pleasures waiting for them.

When they came to her garden, Madame Bovary pushed open the little gate and, running up the steps, disappeared from view.

Leon went back to his office. His boss was out. He looked quickly at some papers, prepared a pen for writing, but then put on his hat and went out. He went up to the edge of the woods, threw himself down on the ground under the trees and looked at the sky through his fingers.

‘Oh!’ he sighed. ‘I am so bored!’

As soon as the weather began to turn cold, Emma spent her days in the sitting room. It was a long room with a low ceiling, and above the fireplace there was a picture of the sea and a large mirror. She pulled her chair close to the window so that she could watch the villagers as they went by on the pavement.

Twice a day, Leon passed from his work to the Lion d’Or. Emma could recognize his steps from a long way away. She leaned forward and listened, and the young man walked past, always dressed the same and always looking straight in front of him. In the evening, when she had dropped her piece of unfinished sewing on her lap and was sitting with her chin resting on her left hand, she would again notice his figure moving past the window, and then she would get up and tell the girl to lay the table for dinner.

Monsieur Homais would often come in while they were eating. Smoking cap in hand, he would come in quietly, not wanting to disturb anyone, and always saying the same thing: ‘Good evening, everybody.’ Having taken his usual place at the table, between husband and wife, he asked the doctor about his patients, and the doctor consulted him about the sort of fees he ought to charge. Then they began to discuss the news in the paper. At eight o’clock the pharmacist’s assistant, Justin, would come for him to go over and shut up the shop.

On Sundays, the Bovarys would return these visits and spend the evening at the pharmacist’s. They would begin with cards - Monsieur Homais usually being Emma’s partner. Leon would stand behind her and tell her what to play. Every time she threw a card on the table, the movement would pull up her dress on the right side, and her hair would move across her neck like soft brown silk.

When they had finished the cards, the pharmacist and the doctor would settle down to discuss the news of the day and drink their wine and Emma, changing her place, would sit with her elbow on the table, turning over the pages of an illustrated magazine. Leon sat down beside her, and they looked at the pictures together, waiting for each other at the bottom of the page. Sometimes she would ask him to read some poetry. And so a kind of friendship began between them.

The problem for Leon, however, was to know what sort of friend Madame Bovary might be. They gave each other small presents, they were happy in each other’s company, but would there be more? He thought and thought about this in his lonely room. Should he tell her what he was feeling? Did he love her, or didn’t he? He was torn between fear of hurting her and shame at his own lack of courage. Sometimes he would make up his mind to act, and to act quickly. He wrote letters - and tore them up; decided on a day to speak to her - and put it off. Sometimes he walked out of the lawyer’s office with his mind made up. But all his courage melted when he found himself face to face with Emma; and when Charles came home and invited him to come with him to see a patient at a farm a few kilometres away, he at once accepted and, with a bow to Madame, left with her husband.

But Emma did not ask herself if she was in love. Love, she thought, was something that must come suddenly, like a great thunderstorm, blowing away your old life and carrying your heart and soul away, to heaven or to hell. She never thought about the way a river can rise slowly, getting higher day by day, until after a night of rain it breaks its banks and floods the land around it. In fact, she had no idea of the danger she was in.

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