Stage 3 (Journeyman): Madame Bovary, chapter 7

CHAPTER 7 

A mile and a half from Yonville down the valley past the winding rivers and aimless stretches of farmland was the beginnings of a yarn-mill. As it was a Sunday, Monsieur and Madame Bovary, Homais, and Monsieur Leon had gone to see it in the process of being built. Justin, carrying umbrellas, accompanied them. It left much to the imagination- too much, one might say. The yarn-mill was a waste ground with rusty russet(1)​ wheels amongst the sand. The building, while lacking – the roof was not yet complete, included a few congenial(2)​ windows.

Emma leaned against one of the windows and turned, seeing Charles. With lips trembling and a cap drawn past his eyebrows, he seemed very vacuous(3)​. Leon then stepped forward – his large blue eyes, to Emma, seemed more beautiful than the mountain lakes of Geneva. All the while, Monsieur Homais was speaking about the splendidly(4)​ thick walls.

They turned back to Yonville as the snow approached. After Charles had left, Madame Bovary found herself in front of the fireplace alone. She couldn’t help but think of Leon – how charming he was, charming as though he was in love. “But with whom? With me?” And it was not later than when she came to the sudden, stark(5)​ realization. Her heart skipped a beat – but the lamentations(6)​ began: it was realizing her misfortune.

The next evening, she received a visit from Monsieur Lheureux, the draper. Despite being excessively tactful(7)​, he was a man of talent and fortunes and more importantly, of connections. He set down six embroidered collars in front of her to begin with, and he immediately exclaimed how his poor collection could not begin to suffice the eyes of such a “fashionable lady”. When she gently declined the collars, he offered slippers, needles, scarves – golden ones too, that twinkled in the light of dusk.

“How much are they?” She asked.

“A mere nothing,” he replied. “But we are not Jews. You may pay me whenever it is convenient for you.”

She pondered his offer for a few moments, but then decided against it. He did not appear too concerned and began speaking of Pere Tellier, a patient of Monsieur Bovary, who had been coughing severely. “Perhaps it’s due to his overconsumption of brandy…no, no, it must be the weather!” He excused himself several times, obsequiously(8)​, and closed the door behind him.

A while later, Emma heard steps on the stairs. It was Leon. When he entered, she made herself very busy, stitching a cloth (and unstitching it when he looked away). He was captivated(9)​ by

her silence. “What might I have done wrong to upset this gentle creature?”

“Poor man!” She thought.

At last, he mentioned that he would be visiting Rouen soon and asked if he might renew her music subscription for her while in town.

“No,” she replied.

“Why?”

“Because–” But she could not finish it.

“Are you giving it up?”

“What?” She seemed startled. “Oh, yes, music! Oh, yes! I have a thousand other things to keep in mind – my husband, other duties…”

The clerk began speaking of Madame Homais. Then, the silence relapsed.

Everything changed in the next few days. She took over her duties with much more severity(10)​.

She took Berthe from the nurse and showed her off with adoration to all of her guests, exclaiming that her child was her sole joy. She no longer quibbled(11)​ at what Charles did and what he requested, and he seemed to, as a result, be overflowing with happiness.

At this point, she seemed inaccessible to Leon that he lost all hope. She barely seemed to be walking upon the earth, so sad yet so clement(12)​ at once. Even the housewives and the chemist did not escape notice of these changes.

Yet Emma alone knew the truth behind this mask – that she was in love with Leon. She grew obsessed with his comings and goings yet as soon as he entered, the emotions subsided, crushed down. It was shame that restrained(13)​ her, all the time that they had lost. She became angry at Charles – it was his fault that she had become buckled down so early. In the deepest pit of her heart, she wished that Charles would do some violence to her so that she could be justified in hating him. But, no; she was to constrained to pretend to be happy – happy, happy hypocrisy(14)​.

 

After all, Leon must no longer love her. She broke down in tears, often, and the servant coming to her asked her, “Why not tell master?”

“It would worry him, it is no worry.”

“Oh, oh, yes. I know of a woman – a folk-tale I once heard – who cursed her fate. Each day seemed like a year. But with marriage, it went.” She left the room, humming.

“But with me,” Emma said softly, “It was after marriage that it began.”

One evening in the spring when the primroses were in bloom and the warm wind blew through her hair, she heard the Angelus ringing. She lost sight of the meandering river and lost herself in memories of the past – days of convent school. Madame Bovary went to the middle of town, where the only spot of green could be found amidst boys playing with marbles and graves. In order to prolong​(15) his day’s labour, Lestivoudois rang the Angelus to suit himself.

As soon as the Abbe appeared, the children ran into the church. He had several stains on his shirt

and a beard, and was breathing heavily. “How are you?” He asked, at last.

“I am ill.”

“Well, so am I! But we are all born to suffer, are we not? Did you not ask Monsieur Bovary for some remedy?”

“It is not a remedy of the body that I seek, but one of the soul.” Her eyes were pleading.

All the while, the boys were sneaking to play marbles and the Abbe was reprimanding(16) them, making Madame Bovary wonder if she had any hope at all in trusting this man.

“Are you in need of bread?”

“It is not–”

“Or fire?”

“What!”

“Indigestion, perhaps–” He put his hand to her forehead. “You seem faint.”

“It is not–” Her voice trailed off.

“If you have nothing else, please excuse me. I must look after my good-for-nothings. Good health to you, madame, and send my respects to your husband.”

When she returned home, she threw herself into an armchair. Berthre tugged on the end of her

dress. “Leave me alone,” she said. And then once more, when the child dribbled on her dress.

“Leave me alone!” As the child began to scream and irked(17)​, Madame Bovary pushed her with her elbow. Berthe fell and cut her cheek against the handle of a drawer, which began to bleed.

Charles appeared. “Look, dear!” She said calmly. “The little one fell down while she was playing.” Charles reassured her that the case was not serious. “How ugly this child is!” Emma thought to herself, when the child grew silent.

At the weekly dinner, Charles had been trying to interrupt the conversation between Monsieur

Homais and Leon. “I should like to speak with you,” he whispered in the clerk’s ear.

Does he know? How could he know? Leon wondered.

Charles, at last, inquired(18)​ after the price of a portrait of himself. It was to be a gift for his

wife.

Leon did not hurry to leave. He put it off for weeks, but after the tenth letter from his mother, it

came the time for farewells. There was a great deal of weeping and sobbing, but Madame Bovary

was not there. He ran to her house and came in, cheeks flushed. They stared at each other for a

moment, her at the foot of the stairs. “The doctor is not here?”

“He is out.” He did not respond. “He is out.”

 

“I should like to kiss Berthe,” he said, after a long silence. He kissed Berthe several times, and

then gave her back to her mother, who returned her to the servant. “Well, good-bye.”

“Yes, go!”

 

He hesitated for a moment, and she sighed, giving her hand wholly to whim, forcing a laugh. He

felt her hand, closed his eyes and before she could open her own, he was gone.

 

His carriage was absconding(19)​ into the sunset. The rain soon fell, the heavens emptying their dolor(20)​. But then, soon enough, the sun reappeared and Homais arrived for dinner.

GLOSSARY:

1/russet(adj)-a red or tawny color, perhaps one similar to chestnut

 

2/congenial(adj)-simple, yet nice; meeting the requirements of a situation; good-natured and

 

pleasant

 

3/vacuous(adj)-empty-minded; stupid

 

4/splendidly(adv)-describing something that occurs or is portrayed in a wonderful manner

 

5/stark(adj)-describing something with a large contrast; severe or bare in appearance and outline

 

6/lamentation(n)-the passionate expression of grief or sorrow; weeping

 

7/tactful(adj)-having or showing tact; diplomatic; considerate; sensitive; polite

 

8/obsequiously(adv)-obedient or attentive to an excessive or servile degree

 

9/captivated(v)-attract and hold the interest and attention of; charm

 

10/severity(n)-the fact or condition of being severe; intense, as of cold or pain

 

11/quibble(v)-argue or raise objections about a trivial matter

 

12/clement(adj)-(of weather) mild; (of a person or a person’s actions) merciful

 

13/restrained(adj)-characterized by reserve or moderation; unemotional or dispassionate.

 

14/hypocrisy(n)-the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own

 

behavior does not conform; pretense

 

15/prolong(v)-extend the duration of

 

16/reprimand(v)-rebuke (someone), especially officially

 

17/irk(v)-irritate; annoy

 

18/inquire(v)-ask for information from someone

 

19/abscond(v)-leave hurriedly and secretly, typically to avoid detection of or arrest for an

 

unlawful action such as theft

 

20/dolor(n)-a state of great sorrow or distress

 

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