They began to love one another again. Often, even in the middle of the day,
Emma suddenly wrote to him, then from the window made a sign to Justin, who,
taking his apron off, quickly ran to La Huchette. Rodolphe would come; she had
sent for him to tell him that she was bored, that her husband was odious, her life
"But what can I do?" he cried one day impatiently.
"Ah! if you would—"
She was sitting on the floor between his knees, her hair loose, her look lost.
"Why, what?" said Rodolphe.
"We would go and live elsewhere—somewhere!"
"You are really mad!" he said laughing. "How could that be possible?"
She returned to the subject; he pretended not to understand, and turned the
What he did not understand was all this worry about so simple an affair as love.
She had a motive, a reason, and, as it were, a pendant to her affection.
Her tenderness, in fact, grew each day with her repulsion to her husband. The
more she gave up herself to the one, the more she loathed the other. Never had
Charles seemed to her so disagreeable, to have such stodgy fingers, such vulgar
ways, to be so dull as when they found themselves together after her meeting
with Rodolphe. Then, while playing the spouse and virtue, she was burning at the
thought of that head whose black hair fell in a curl over the sunburnt brow, of that
form at once so strong and elegant, of that man, in a word, who had such
experience in his reasoning, such passion in his desires. It was for him that she
filed her nails with the care of a chaser, and that there was never enough cold-
cream for her skin, nor of patchouli for her handkerchiefs. She loaded herself
with bracelets, rings, and necklaces. When he was coming she filled the two
large blue glass vases with roses, and prepared her room and her person like a
courtesan expecting a prince. The servant had to be constantly washing linen,
and all day Felicite did not stir from the kitchen, where little Justin, who often kept
her company, watched her at work.
With his elbows on the long board on which she was ironing, he greedily watched
all these women's clothes spread about him, the dimity petticoats, the fichus, the
collars, and the drawers with running strings, wide at the hips and growing
"What is that for?" asked the young fellow, passing his hand over the crinoline or
the hooks and eyes.
"Why, haven't you ever seen anything?" Felicite answered laughing. "As if your
mistress, Madame Homais, didn't wear the same."
"Oh, I daresay! Madame Homais!" And he added with a meditative air, "As if she
were a lady like madame!"