Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview

Then, turning to Emma, who was wearing a blue silk dress with four flounces, he added:

'You look as pretty as a cupid! I prophesy a terrific success in Rouen!'

The diligence set down its passengers at the Red Cross Hotel, on the place Beauvoisine, just such an inn as is to be found on the outskirts of any provincial city: a place of large stables and small bedrooms, with hens in the yard pecking at corn beneath the mudcaked gigs of commercial travellers--a sound old caravanserai with balconies whose worm-eaten wood creaked in the wind on winter nights, filled with people, noise and food, where the black table-tops were sticky with spilt coffee and brandy, the thick window panes yellow with flies, and the damp cloths stained with absinthe. Since there is always something of the village about such places--as there is about the farm-labourer in his Sunday best--a café inevitably forms part of their accommodation, opening on to the street, with a kitchen-garden at the back facing the open country.

Charles immediately started off on a number of errands. He got the stage-box mixed up with the gallery, the pit with the dress circle, asked for explanations which he failed to understand, was referred by the box-office attendant to the manager, went back to the inn, paid another visit to the box-office, and, in this way, walked the whole length and breadth of the town more than once, from the theatre to the boulevard.

His wife bought herself a hat, a pair of gloves and a bouquet. He was continually fidgeting lest they miss the rise of the curtain, with the result that they had no time to swallow so much as a mouthful of soup, and turned up at the entrance to the theatre* before the doors were open.


CHAPTER XV

THE waiting crowd was neatly drawn up along the wall of the theatre in a series of queues separated by rails. At the corners of the near-by streets huge posters, printed in florid type, repeated the same announcement over and over again: 'Lucie de Lammermoor'* . . . Lagardy . . . Opera. . . . etc. It was a fine evening. Those waiting for the doors to open were feeling hot. Sweat ran into carefully

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