Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview
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and a house in the rue Saint-François. But out of the fortune which had been the subject of so much talk, the Bovary household had seen little more than a few odds and ends of furniture and some clothes. It was essential that they know precisely how they stood. The house in Dieppe turned out to be eaten up with mortgages. God alone knew how much had been deposited with the solicitor, and the share in the ship was found to amount to no more than three thousand francs. She had lied to them. So furious was old Monsieur Bovary that he broke a chair on the floor. He accused his wife of ruining their son by tying him up to an old broken-winded jade whose trappings were worth as little as her carcass! They travelled to Tostes. Explanations followed--and scenes. Héloise flung herself weeping into her husband's arms, calling on him to protect her against his parents. Charles took her part, and the old people left in a fury.

But the blow had struck home. A week later, while she was hanging out some washing in the yard, Madame Bovary the younger began to spit blood, and the next day, while Charles was drawing the curtains with his back to her, she cried out 'Oh, God!' uttered a sigh and lost consciousness. She was dead! What a surprise!

When the funeral was over, Charles went home. He met no one on the ground floor. Upstairs, he saw her dress hanging at the foot of the alcove in their bedroom. Leaning against the bureau, he remained until evening in a state of painful reverie. After all, she had loved him.


ONE morning, old Rouault came over to pay Charles for the setting of his leg--seventy-five francs in two-franc pieces, and a turkey. He had heard about the doctor's trouble, and said what he could to comfort him.

'I know what it's like,' he said, giving him a hearty slap on the back: 'been through it myself! When I lost my late-lamented, I went out into the fields to be alone, threw myself down under a tree, and cried. I called on the good God and said all sorts of stupid things to him. I wanted to be like the moles I saw strung up on the branches with worms crawling in their bellies--in other words, dead as a door-nail. When I thought of all the other chaps lying snug in bed


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