Gradually Rodolphe's fears took possession of her. At first, love had intoxicated
her; and she had thought of nothing beyond. But now that he was indispensable
to her life, she feared to lose anything of this, or even that it should be disturbed.
When she came back from his house she looked all about her, anxiously
watching every form that passed in the horizon, and every village window from
which she could be seen. She listened for steps, cries, the noise of the ploughs,
and she stopped short, white, and trembling more than the aspen leaves swaying
One morning as she was thus returning, she suddenly thought she saw the long
barrel of a carbine that seemed to be aimed at her. It stuck out sideways from the
end of a small tub half-buried in the grass on the edge of a ditch. Emma, half-
fainting with terror, nevertheless walked on, and a man stepped out of the tub like
a Jack-in-the-box. He had gaiters buckled up to the knees, his cap pulled down
over his eyes, trembling lips, and a red nose. It was Captain Binet lying in
ambush for wild ducks.
"You ought to have called out long ago!" he exclaimed; "When one sees a gun,
one should always give warning."
The tax-collector was thus trying to hide the fright he had had, for a prefectorial
order having prohibited duckhunting except in boats, Monsieur Binet, despite his
respect for the laws, was infringing them, and so he every moment expected to
see the rural guard turn up. But this anxiety whetted his pleasure, and, all alone
in his tub, he congratulated himself on his luck and on his cuteness. At sight of
Emma he seemed relieved from a great weight, and at once entered upon a
"It isn't warm; it's nipping."
Emma answered nothing. He went on—
"And you're out so early?"
"Yes," she said stammering; "I am just coming from the nurse where my child is."
"Ah! very good! very good! For myself, I am here, just as you see me, since
break of day; but the weather is so muggy, that unless one had the bird at the
mouth of the gun—"
"Good evening, Monsieur Binet," she interrupted him, turning on her heel.
"Your servant, madame," he replied drily; and he went back into his tub.
Emma regretted having left the tax-collector so abruptly. No doubt he would form
unfavourable conjectures. The story about the nurse was the worst possible
excuse, everyone at Yonville knowing that the little Bovary had been at home
with her parents for a year. Besides, no one was living in this direction; this path
led only to La Huchette. Binet, then, would guess whence she came, and he
would not keep silence; he would talk, that was certain. She remained until
evening racking her brain with every conceivable lying project, and had
constantly before her eyes that imbecile with the game-bag.