Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town

By Gustave Flaubert; Gerard Hopkins | Go to book overview

more completely than she was ever his. Her kisses and her tender words stole away his heart. Where had she learned the arts of a power to corrupt which was so profound, yet so well disguised, that it appeared to be almost disembodied?


CHAPTER VI

OFTEN, when Léon had travelled to Yonville to see her, he had been the chemist's guest at dinner, and felt in honour bound to ask him back.

'With the greatest pleasure,' Monsieur Homais replied. 'It'll do me good to take a plunge into the great world, because I'm getting into a rut here. We'll go to the theatre, dine in a restaurant, and behave like a couple of madcaps!'

'Oh, my dear, do be careful!' murmured Madame Homais in an access of tender concern, terrified by the very vagueness of her idea of the perils to which he seemed ready to expose himself.

'What are you worrying about? Don't you think I'm ruining my health enough, living as I do in a continual atmosphere of drugs? But women are all the same--jealous of science, yet up in arms as soon as one proposes to indulge in a little innocent distraction. But never mind her: I'm your man. One of these fine days you'll see me turn up in Rouen, and then we'll make the money fly!'

Time was when the apothecary would have shunned such an expression: but he had recently become addicted to a playful and Parisian style of speech which he regarded as being the last word in good taste. Like his neighbour, Madame Bovary, he eagerly questioned the young man about the manners of the capital, and went so far as to talk slang in the hope of shocking his respectable fellow- citizens, using words like turne, bazar, chicard, chicandard, Bredastreet, and saying Je me la casse, instead of Je m 'en vais.*

Thus it happened that Emma, on one of her Thursdays, was surprised to find Monsieur Homais in the kitchen of the Golden Lion, dressed as for a journey. That is to say, he was wearing an old top-coat which nobody had ever seen, and was carrying a bag in one hand and in the other, a foot-warmer which he used in the shop. He had not mentioned his plan to a soul, fearing lest he create a feeling of public disquiet by his absence.

-255-

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