Stage 3 (Journeyman): Madame Bovary, chapter 4

happiest. It would be a time of idyllic(1) afternoons spent lounging on the beaches
behind decorative fans; promenading(2) through the gardens of luxury. At night, the
two of them would look at the stars, hand in hand, making plans for their future.
It seemed to her that these places were meant for happiness… yet she felt the opposite.
As the intimacy of her life with Charles grew deeper, the greater became the gulf that
separated her from him.
Charles’ conversation was as commonplace as the street pavement. His words were
without excitement. He had no yearnings to explore the world and still thought that he
brought her great joy. Should a man not initiate(3) you into the passions and mysteries
of life? But this one taught nothing, knew nothing, wished nothing. She resented his
easy calmness.
Emma, on the other hand, knew her place. She prepared the most extravagant(4) of
dishes for Sunday guests and charmed his patients. And for this, Charles rose in
esteem-for having such a lovely wife.
He returned from work late. He would ask for something to eat, then went to bed, lay
on his back, and snored.
His mother approved of his economy(5) and came to see him often. She seemed
prejudiced against her daughter-in-law, who she felt had tastes too refined and
unnecessary. In Madame Dubuc’s time, the old woman had been the favorite, but now,
the love of Charles for Emma seemed to overpower the man’s love for his mother.
Having judged Emma’s character, Madame Bovary felt that this adoration was not quite
rational. Charles was caught between the two: he respected his mother and he loved his
Yet, Emma wanted to make herself fall in love with him. She tried her hardest, singing
passionate songs-but to no avail(6). There was no spark.
One of Charles’s patients, once cured, had given Madame a little Italian greyhound.
Often, Emma took her out walking in the gardens. She went again, now, just to see that
nothing had changed: the roses still rotting, the weeds still flowering. At first, her
thoughts wandered aimlessly, and then took definite shape. “Why did I marry?” She
repeated to herself.
She tried to imagine what could have been-a different life, this unknown husband. He
might have been handsome and witty. Her life certainly would not be this cold one of
She knelt down and stroking her fingers across the fur of the graceful animal, felt the
breezes from the distant sea. She stayed in place for a moment, letting the salt
rejuvenate(8) her veins.
But the sun was setting, and a fear took hold of her. She called Djali, and hurriedly
returned to Tostes, threw herself into an armchair, and for the rest of the evening, she
did not speak.
Towards the end of September, something extraordinary occurred. She and Charles had
been invited by the Marquis d’Andervilliers to Vaubyessard. Charles had cured a small
abscess(9) of his and now they were to travel to his chateau. On Wednesday at three
o’clock, they set out in their dog-cart and arrived at nightfall.
The chateau lay at the foot of an immense lawn, on which some cows were grazing.
Charles’s dog-cart pulled up before the middle flight of steps; servants appeared, and
the Marquis came forward. Offering his arm to the doctor’s wife, he conducted her to
the vestibule(10).
Inside the chateau, voices echoed loftily(11). The Marquis opened the door to the
drawing room, and one of the ladies came to meet Emma. She made her sit down by her
on an ottoman, and the two talked as though they had known each other for a long time.
At seven, dinner was served. Emma felt herself elevated by the perfume of flowers and
the odor of the truffles. The silver dish covers reflected the lighted candles in the
candelabra above; bouquets were placed the whole length of the table. The crabs were
roasted and arranged beautifully, and each silver glass was overflowing with the richest
and plumpest of grapes.
At the upper end of the table was the Marquis’s father-in-law, the old Duke de
Laverdiere, who it was said, had been the lover of Queen Marie Antoinette. Constantly,
Emma’s eyes turned towards this man. What an extraordinary life he had lived!
Afterwards, the ladies went to their rooms to prepare for the ball. Emma did her hair
fastidiously, as though she was making her debut.
Charles’s trousers were tight across the belly. “My trouser-straps will be rather
awkward for dancing,” he said.
“Dancing?” Emma repeated. “Why, you must be mad! They would make fun of you;
keep your place. Besides, it is more becoming for a doctor,” she added.
He was silent after that and waited for her to finish dressing. To him, her eyes seemed
blacker than ever, and her hair shone with a blue luster(12). He leaned forward to kiss
her shoulder.
“Let me alone!” She said. “You are tumbling me.”
The sounds of a violin came and she went downstairs barely restraining herself from
running. The dancing had begun. Women sat in rows, wearing satin gloves and
speaking to one another behind white fans. Their hair was sprayed with jasmine and
pomegranate blossoms, and their dresses were elaborate creations of some divine
Emma’s heart beat rather faster when her partner took her place in a line with the
dancers. But her emotion soon vanished as she glided forward, swaying to the rhythm
of the orchestra.
Too soon, the carriages, one after the other, began to drive off. The seats began to
empty, and Charles was half asleep, his back against a door.
At three o’clock, the cotillion began for the dozen or so guests that were staying at the
castle. Emma did not know how to waltz, but one of the waltzers, Viscount, assured her
that he would guide her. They began slowly, then went more rapidly. Her head fell
upon his chest, and they only went faster. They danced for a long time, tiring all the
At last after the goodnights, or rather good mornings, the guests of the chateau retired.
Charles fell onto the bed with a great sigh of relief, but Emma opened the window, and
leaned out. She wanted to prolong the illusion(13) of this luxurious life she would soon
have to give up. But she was shivering with cold, and soon fell asleep.
The events of the next day passed quickly: a luncheon of ten minutes, a walk in the
host-houses, a perusal(14) of the shining stables. All too soon, the dog-cart was brought
to the foot of the steps and after paying their respects to the Marquis and Marchioness,
the Bovarys set out again for Tostes.
Along the way, they had to stop to mend some string that had broken. A cigar-case
caught Charles’s eyes. He picked it up, eyes shining. “There are two cigars in it,” he
said. “They’ll do for this evening.”
“Do you smoke?” she asked.
“Sometimes, when I get a chance.” He put his find in his pocket, and they carried
When they reached home, the dinner was not ready. Madame lost her temper, and
Nastasie answered rudely.
“You are forgetting yourself. I give you a warning,” said Emma.
For dinner, there was onion soup and a piece of veal with sorrel(15).
Charles rubbed his hands gleefully. “How good it is to be at home!”
After dinner, they warmed themselves in the kitchen. Charles smoked and recoiled(16)
at every puff.
“You’ll make yourself ill,” Emma said scornfully.
He put his cigar down and ran to swallow a glass of cold water. Emma seized(17) the
cigar case and threw it quickly into the back of the cupboard.
The next day was long. She walked about her little garden, looking at all these familiar
things with a tinge(18) of disgust. She put away her beautiful dresses and shoes-whose
soles still shined with the wax of the dancing floor-in her dresser. How far off the ball
seemed already!
The memory of the ball became her occupation. Whenever Wednesday came round,
Emma said to herself as she awoke, “Ah! I was there a week-a fortnight(19)-three
weeks ago.” Little by little, the faces grew blurry; she forgot the tune of the waltz; she
no longer saw the staircases so distinctly(20). Some details escaped her, but the regret
1/idyllic(adj)-characterized by laziness and leisure; describing something beautiful and
calm, such as a landscape in Romantic times
2/promenade(v)-to take a leisurely walk, often through the gardens or alongside the sea
 3/initiate(v)-to admit somebody into a society or group for the first person; to open
one’s horizons; to introduce one to a way of living
4/extravagant(adj)-exceeding what is reasonable and frugal; spending more money than
is necessary for the purpose of show
5/economy(n)-a state of being careful with one’s money and affairs; frugality
6/avail(n)-to one’s advantage; to take advantage of an opportunity or resource available
to oneself
7/ennui(n)-a state of boredom and listlessness; tedium
8/rejuvenate(v)-to bring something to life; to fill something with a sense of life; to
revive, revitalize
9/abscess(n)-a collection of pus; a mild medical condition that requires for the lump to
be drained of pus
10/vestibule(n)-entrance hall; the lobby or chamber directly next to the outer door of a
building or home
11/loftily(adv)-of imposing height; nobly
12/luster(n)-a shine; a gentle glow belonging to a metal or other object
13/illusion(n)-some situation that feels so perfect that it cannot be real; a creation of
one’s imagination, such as in a dream
14/perusal(n)-the action of looking through or examining something
15/sorrel(n)-a herb that resembles spinach
16/recoil(v)-to be taken aback, by disgust, hatred, or surprise
17/seize(v)-to take or grab something violently, to take something using force
18/tinge(n)-a small intangible amount used to describe an emotion or feeling; a
tendency towards some color; to color slightly (if a verb)
19/fortnight(n)-a time period of two weeks
20/distinctly(adv)-clearly; in a way that is very easily able to be distinguished

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