Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview
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forward, constantly spitting, and drawing himself back at every puff.

'You'll make yourself sick!' she said scornfully.

He laid his cigar aside and ran to the pump for a drink of cold water. Emma snatched up the cigar-case and flung it violently into the cupboard.

The next day seemed inordinately long. She took a walk in the tiny garden, pacing up and down the same paths again and again, stopping to look at the flower-beds, the trellised fruit-trees, the plaster statue of the priest. She felt struck by a sort of wonderment at the sight of all these once familiar objects. How far away the ball already seemed! What was it that so completely severed this evening from the morning of the day before yesterday? Her journey to La Vaubyessard had opened a yawning fissure in her life, a fissure that was like one of those great crevasses which a storm will sometimes make on a mountain-side in the course of one short night. She resigned herself, however, to the inevitable, and reverently locked away in the chest of drawers the lovely dress which she had worn and the satin slippers with their soles still stained with the yellow beeswax of the dance-floor. Her heart was like them: the touch of wealth had stamped it with a mark which would never be effaced.

To remember the ball became for Emma a daily occupation. With the return of every Wednesday she said to herself on waking, 'A week ago--a fortnight--three weeks--I was there!' Little by little, the faces she had seen became confused in her memory. She forgot the tune to which they had danced the quadrille. The liveries of the servants, and the furniture of the rooms, lost their former precision. Details faded but regret remained.


OFTEN, when Charles had gone out, she would open the cupboard and take, from amid the folded linen where she had put it, the green silk cigar-case.

She looked at it, opened it, even sniffed the mingled smell of tobacco and verbena which hung about its lining. Whose was it?-- the Vicomte's. Perhaps it was a present from his mistress, embroidered on a frame of rosewood, some delicate little piece of furniture, hidden from all eyes but her own.


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Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town


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