Leon soon put on an air of superiority before his comrades, avoided their
company, and completely neglected his work.
He waited for her letters; he re-read them; he wrote to her. He called her to mind
with all the strength of his desires and of his memories. Instead of lessening with
absence, this longing to see her again grew, so that at last on Saturday morning
he escaped from his office.
When, from the summit of the hill, he saw in the valley below the church-spire
with its tin flag swinging in the wind, he felt that delight mingled with triumphant
vanity and egoistic tenderness that millionaires must experience when they come
back to their native village.
He went rambling round her house. A light was burning in the kitchen. He
watched for her shadow behind the curtains, but nothing appeared.
Mere Lefrancois, when she saw him, uttered many exclamations. She thought he
"had grown and was thinner," while Artemise, on the contrary, thought him
stouter and darker.
He dined in the little room as of yore, but alone, without the tax-gatherer; for
Binet, tired of waiting for the "Hirondelle," had definitely put forward his meal one
hour, and now he dined punctually at five, and yet he declared usually the rickety
old concern "was late."
Leon, however, made up his mind, and knocked at the doctor's door. Madame
was in her room, and did not come down for a quarter of an hour. The doctor
seemed delighted to see him, but he never stirred out that evening, nor all the
He saw her alone in the evening, very late, behind the garden in the lane; in the
lane, as she had the other one! It was a stormy night, and they talked under an
umbrella by lightning flashes.
Their separation was becoming intolerable. "I would rather die!" said Emma. She
was writhing in his arms, weeping. "Adieu! adieu! When shall I see you again?"
They came back again to embrace once more, and it was then that she promised
him to find soon, by no matter what means, a regular opportunity for seeing one
another in freedom at least once a week. Emma never doubted she should be
able to do this. Besides, she was full of hope. Some money was coming to her.
On the strength of it she bought a pair of yellow curtains with large stripes for her
room, whose cheapness Monsieur Lheureux had commended; she dreamed of
getting a carpet, and Lheureux, declaring that it wasn't "drinking the sea," politely
undertook to supply her with one. She could no longer do without his services.
Twenty times a day she sent for him, and he at once put by his business without
a murmur. People could not understand either why Mere Rollet breakfasted with
her every day, and even paid her private visits.
It was about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter, that she seemed
seized with great musical fervour.