He had only received the chemist's letter thirty-six hours after the event; and,
from consideration for his feelings, Homais had so worded it that it was
impossible to make out what it was all about.
First, the old fellow had fallen as if struck by apoplexy. Next, he understood that
she was not dead, but she might be. At last, he had put on his blouse, taken his
hat, fastened his spurs to his boots, and set out at full speed; and the whole of
the way old Rouault, panting, was torn by anguish. Once even he was obliged to
dismount. He was dizzy; he heard voices round about him; he felt himself going
Day broke. He saw three black hens asleep in a tree. He shuddered, horrified at
this omen. Then he promised the Holy Virgin three chasubles for the church, and
that he would go barefooted from the cemetery at Bertaux to the chapel of
He entered Maromme shouting for the people of the inn, burst open the door with
a thrust of his shoulder, made for a sack of oats, emptied a bottle of sweet cider
into the manger, and again mounted his nag, whose feet struck fire as it dashed
He said to himself that no doubt they would save her; the doctors would discover
some remedy surely. He remembered all the miraculous cures he had been told
about. Then she appeared to him dead. She was there; before his eyes, lying on
her back in the middle of the road. He reined up, and the hallucination
At Quincampoix, to give himself heart, he drank three cups of coffee one after the
other. He fancied they had made a mistake in the name in writing. He looked for
the letter in his pocket, felt it there, but did not dare to open it.
At last he began to think it was all a joke; someone's spite, the jest of some wag;
and besides, if she were dead, one would have known it. But no! There was
nothing extraordinary about the country; the sky was blue, the trees swayed; a
flock of sheep passed. He saw the village; he was seen coming bending forward
upon his horse, belabouring it with great blows, the girths dripping with blood.
When he had recovered consciousness, he fell, weeping, into Bovary's arms:
"My girl! Emma! my child! tell me—"
The other replied, sobbing, "I don't know! I don't know! It's a curse!"
The druggist separated them. "These horrible details are useless. I will tell this
gentleman all about it. Here are the people coming. Dignity! Come now!
The poor fellow tried to show himself brave, and repeated several times. "Yes!
"Oh," cried the old man, "so I will have, by God! I'll go along o' her to the end!"