A Simple Heart
A Simple Soul — Gustave Flaubert
A SIMPLE SOUL
any money, who died in the beginning of 1809, leaving her
with two young children and a number of debts. She sold
all her property excepting the farm of Toucques and the
farm of Geffosses, the income of which barely amounted to
5,000 francs; then she left her house in Saint-Melaine, and
moved into a less pretentious one which had belonged to
her ancestors and stood back of the market-place. This house,
with its slate-covered roof, was built between a passage-way
and a narrow street that led to the river. The interior was so
unevenly graded that it caused people to stumble. A narrow
hall separated the kitchen from the parlour, where Madame
Aubain sat all day in a straw armchair near the window.
Eight mahogany chairs stood in a row against the white
wainscoting. An old piano, standing beneath a barometer,
was covered with a pyramid of old books and boxes. On
either side of the yellow marble mantelpiece, in Louis XV.
style, stood a tapestry armchair. The clock represented a
temple of Vesta; and the whole room smelled musty, as it
was on a lower level than the garden.
On the first floor was Madame’s bed-chamber, a large
room papered in a flowered design and containing the por-
FOR HALF A CENTURY the housewives of Pont-l’Eveque had
envied Madame Aubain her servant Felicite.
For a hundred francs a year, she cooked and did the house-
work, washed, ironed, mended, harnessed the horse, fat-
tened the poultry, made the butter and remained faithful to
her mistress — although the latter was by no means an
Madame Aubain had married a comely youth without