Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview

He walked to the Pasture high on the hill of Argueil, by the forest edge, and, lying down beneath the pines, looked through clasped fingers at the sky.

'How bored I am!' he said to himself: 'how bored!'

He was much to be pitied, he thought, for having to live in this village with Homais for friend and old Guillaumin for master. The latter, who was entirely absorbed in the details of business, with his gold-rimmed spectacles, his red side-whiskers and white cravat, was a stranger to intellectual refinement, though his assumption of the English phlegm had impressed the young man when first he came to work for him. As for the chemist's wife, she was the best wife in all Normandy, gentle as a sheep, devoted to her children, her parents and her cousins, shedding tears over the misfortunes of others, easy- going in her home and a sworn enemy of corsets. But she moved so heavily and talked so tediously, was so vulgar in her appearance, so limited in her conversation, that it had never occurred to him-- though she was no more than thirty and he twenty, though they slept in adjoining rooms, though he talked to her every day of his life-- that anyone could possibly think of her as a woman, or indeed, that she was a woman at all except in dress.

Who else was there? Binet, a few shopkeepers, two or three publicans, the curé, and, finally, Monsieur Tuvache, the Mayor, with his two prosperous, churlish and stupid sons who farmed their own land, gave family parties, went to church regularly, and were quite intolerable.

But against the background of all these faces, Emma's stood out alone, remote. For, between her and him, there stood, he felt, a great and sundering gulf.

At first he had called upon her often in the chemist's company. But Charles had not seemed particularly glad to see him, and he was at a loss how to behave, caught, as be was, between a fear of seeming indiscreet, and the longing for an intimacy which he regarded as being almost impossible.


CHAPTER IV

WHEN the cold weather began, Emma abandoned her bedroom and installed herself in the parlour, a long room with a low-pitched

-85-

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