Madame Bovary HTML version

Chapter Six
During the journeys he made to see her, Leon had often dined at the chemist's,
and he felt obliged from politeness to invite him in turn.
"With pleasure!" Monsieur Homais replied; "besides, I must invigorate my mind,
for I am getting rusty here. We'll go to the theatre, to the restaurant; we'll make a
night of it."
"Oh, my dear!" tenderly murmured Madame Homais, alarmed at the vague perils
he was preparing to brave.
"Well, what? Do you think I'm not sufficiently ruining my health living here amid
the continual emanations of the pharmacy? But there! that is the way with
women! They are jealous of science, and then are opposed to our taking the
most legitimate distractions. No matter! Count upon me. One of these days I shall
turn up at Rouen, and we'll go the pace together."
The druggist would formerly have taken good care not to use such an
expression, but he was cultivating a gay Parisian style, which he thought in the
best taste; and, like his neighbour, Madame Bovary, he questioned the clerk
curiously about the customs of the capital; he even talked slang to dazzle the
bourgeois, saying bender, crummy, dandy, macaroni, the cheese, cut my stick
and "I'll hook it," for "I am going."
So one Thursday Emma was surprised to meet Monsieur Homais in the kitchen
of the "Lion d'Or," wearing a traveller's costume, that is to say, wrapped in an old
cloak which no one knew he had, while he carried a valise in one hand and the
foot-warmer of his establishment in the other. He had confided his intentions to
no one, for fear of causing the public anxiety by his absence.
The idea of seeing again the place where his youth had been spent no doubt
excited him, for during the whole journey he never ceased talking, and as soon
as he had arrived, he jumped quickly out of the diligence to go in search of Leon.
In vain the clerk tried to get rid of him. Monsieur Homais dragged him off to the
large Cafe de la Normandie, which he entered majestically, not raising his hat,
thinking it very provincial to uncover in any public place.
Emma waited for Leon three quarters of an hour. At last she ran to his office;
and, lost in all sorts of conjectures, accusing him of indifference, and reproaching
herself for her weakness, she spent the afternoon, her face pressed against the
At two o'clock they were still at a table opposite each other. The large room was
emptying; the stove-pipe, in the shape of a palm-tree, spread its gilt leaves over
the white ceiling, and near them, outside the window, in the bright sunshine, a
little fountain gurgled in a white basin, where; in the midst of watercress and
asparagus, three torpid lobsters stretched across to some quails that lay heaped
up in a pile on their sides.