فصل 08

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فصل 08

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A Dream Ends

One snowy Sunday afternoon in February, Monsieur and Madame Bovary, Homais and Monsieur Leon went to look at a new mill that was being built outside Yonville. Homais had brought his children, to give them a little exercise. The place did not interest Emma, and she stood away from the group, leaning on Leon’s arm, while Homais and her husband talked about the technical wonders - the thick walls, the great machinery - they saw all around them.

Turning from the pale sunlight coming through the mist, she saw Charles, his cap pulled down over his ears, his thick lips and his stupid face. Even his back was annoying, a stupid back covered in a stupid, boring winter coat. Leon moved forward a step. The cold air had made him pale, even more beautiful than normal. The collar of his shirt was open a little, showing his white skin; the tip of his ear was visible under his long hair, and his big blue eyes, raised upwards to the clouds, seemed to Emma to be clearer, more beautiful than those mountain lakes in which the skies are mirrored.

Madame Bovary did not go over to her neighbours’ that evening, and when Charles had left and she felt she was all alone, she lay down on the carpet in front of the fire and thought about Leon once more. She thought he was charming. She could not put him out of her thoughts. She remembered how he had stood, the things he had said, all about him. And she said over and over again, ‘Oh, charming! Charming!… And in love?’ she asked herself. ‘But with whom?… But it must be with me!’

The evidence was suddenly clear to her and her heart gave a great leap. The firelight became brighter, and she turned on her back and stretched out her arms.

After the first excitement, she then thought, as so many people have before, ‘Ah, why did this happen when it was too late? Why not before? What prevented it?’

It was midnight when Charles got back. She pretended she had just woken up and, as he made a noise undressing, she complained of having a headache. Then she asked what sort of an evening it had been.

‘Monsieur Leon,’ he said, ‘went to bed early.’

She could not help smiling. When she turned over to go to sleep, her heart was filled with a new happiness.

Next day, however, she could not settle to her work in the house; she was happy, but still could not take pleasure in the things she usually liked to do. So when Monsieur Lheureux, the draper, visited and showed her a beautiful scarf, even offering to let her pay later, she refused. And when Leon visited her in the afternoon, all she could do was to talk about her husband!

The same sort of thing went on for days. Her manner and conversation changed completely. She became interested in housekeeping, started going to church again regularly, and stopped the cook stealing the sugar. She even took her little daughter Berthe away from the wet nurse and showed her to all her visitors. She told everyone she loved children. They were such a joy and comfort, she said, as she kissed the child and held her close to her. When Charles got home, he would find his chair ready by the fire. His clothes were brushed and cleaned, the buttons were always on his shirts, and his shirts were folded carefully after they had been ironed. When Leon saw him at the fireside after dinner, with his hands on his stomach, his cheeks red from the meat and wine, the child crawling around on the carpet, and this elegant woman who would lean over and kiss him over the back of the chair, he would say to himself, ‘What a fool I am to imagine I could make her care for me!’

And as each day passed, Emma became thinner and paler. She was so sad and so calm, so gentle and, at the same time, so distant, that you felt a sort of icy charm when you were with her. This charm changed the attitudes of her neighbours; they no longer saw her as the outsider who did not know how to behave properly.

‘She’s a wonderful woman,’ said the pharmacist, and the married women of Yonville admired her for her good management, the patients for her pleasant manners, the poor for her charity. But beneath her calm, Emma was in a state of desire and anger and hatred. Her plain, simple dress hid a heart that was breaking, and she could tell no one, no one! She was in love with Leon, but she did not want to see him. Her heart beat faster when she heard him coming, and then, when he was there, the excitement went away and was replaced by a feeling of fear and sadness. She did not know what to do.

What made it harder to bear was that Charles had no understanding of what she was going through, and she began to hate him for his lack of feeling. She would have liked Charles to beat her so that she could have a reason for hating him. She was torn between a love she could not admit to, and a hatred she could not show. And there she sat at the end of another empty day, broken, motionless, her face wet with tears.

‘Why don’t you tell the doctor about it?’ said her maid when she came in and found her like this.

‘It’s only nerves,’ answered Emma. ‘Don’t mention it to him. He would only worry.’

If Emma was unhappy, Leon was also less than pleased with his life, feeling he had nothing to look forward to. He was so tired of Yonville and its inhabitants that the sight of certain people and certain houses made him angry. And when Monsieur Homais, the pharmacist, tried to amuse him, he found himself disliking him too. The problem was, however, that the thought of changing things alarmed him as much as it excited him.

And the more he thought about it all, the more impatient he became. ‘Paris’ was the word he kept saying to himself. Since he had to go there for his final examinations, why not go now? What was stopping him? And he began to plan a new life for himself. He would live like an artist. He would take guitar lessons. He would wear a red coat and a blue hat; he would go to the opera every night and drink wine with actresses! The great difficulty would be to persuade his mother to agree - but, in fact, it was quite easy. His own employer had been telling him to take up work in another office and widen his experience, and his mother wanted Leon to qualify as soon as possible. Two days after he had sent his letter, she wrote back to him giving her permission!

When he knew he could leave, however, he did not hurry. Every day, for a whole month, boxes and parcels were delivered to his rooms in Yonville; and although Leon had soon made enough preparations - and more than enough - for a voyage round the world, he kept putting things off from week to week.

However, at last the time came to leave, and he hardly had time to say goodbye to Monsieur Bovary. He ran up the stairs to the sitting room, and as he went in Madame Bovary rose quickly.

‘Here I am again!’ said Leon.

‘I knew you would come!’

She bit her lip hard, and could feel herself blush from the roots of her hair to the edge of her collar. She remained standing, leaning her shoulder against the wall.

‘Is the doctor in?’ he said.

‘No, he’s gone out.’ And she repeated, ‘He’s gone out.’

Then there was silence.

‘I would like to kiss Berthe goodbye,’ he said.

Emma went down a few stairs and called Felicite.

He gave a long look round - at the walls, the shelves, the fireplace - as if to carry the memory of it away with him.

Emma returned, and the servant came in with Berthe. Leon kissed her several times on the neck.

‘Goodbye, my poor little thing; goodbye, my darling, goodbye.’ And he gave her back to her mother.

‘Take her away,’ she said.

And now they were alone.

Madame Bovary had her back to him, her face against the glass of the window. Leon was holding his cap in his hand and beating it gently against his thigh.

‘It’s going to rain,’ said Emma.

‘I’ve got a coat,’ he answered.


She turned away again, her face down. No one could have said what Emma was looking at through the glass.

‘Well, this is goodbye!’ he sighed.

She raised her head with a sudden movement.

‘Yes, goodbye… Oh, go!’

They advanced towards each other. He held out his hand. She hesitated. ‘In the English style, then!’ she said, putting hers in his, forcing herself to laugh.

Leon felt her hand between his fingers, and it seemed that his whole life flowed into it.

Then he released her hand, their eyes met for a moment, and he was gone.

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