Madame Bovary HTML version

Chapter Three
The next day, as she was getting up, she saw the clerk on the Place. She had on
a dressing-gown. He looked up and bowed. She nodded quickly and reclosed the
Leon waited all day for six o'clock in the evening to come, but on going to the inn,
he found no one but Monsieur Binet, already at table. The dinner of the evening
before had been a considerable event for him; he had never till then talked for
two hours consecutively to a "lady." How then had he been able to explain, and
in such language, the number of things that he could not have said so well
before? He was usually shy, and maintained that reserve which partakes at once
of modesty and dissimulation.
At Yonville he was considered "well-bred." He listened to the arguments of the
older people, and did not seem hot about politics—a remarkable thing for a
young man. Then he had some accomplishments; he painted in water-colours,
could read the key of G, and readily talked literature after dinner when he did not
play cards. Monsieur Homais respected him for his education; Madame Homais
liked him for his good-nature, for he often took the little Homais into the garden—
little brats who were always dirty, very much spoilt, and somewhat lymphatic, like
their mother. Besides the servant to look after them, they had Justin, the
chemist's apprentice, a second cousin of Monsieur Homais, who had been taken
into the house from charity, and who was useful at the same time as a servant.
The druggist proved the best of neighbours. He gave Madame Bovary
information as to the trades-people, sent expressly for his own cider merchant,
tasted the drink himself, and saw that the casks were properly placed in the
cellar; he explained how to set about getting in a supply of butter cheap, and
made an arrangement with Lestiboudois, the sacristan, who, besides his
sacerdotal and funeral functions, looked after the principal gardens at Yonville by
the hour or the year, according to the taste of the customers.
The need of looking after others was not the only thing that urged the chemist to
such obsequious cordiality; there was a plan underneath it all.
He had infringed the law of the 19th Ventose, year xi., article I, which forbade all
persons not having a diploma to practise medicine; so that, after certain
anonymous denunciations, Homais had been summoned to Rouen to see the
procurer of the king in his own private room; the magistrate receiving him
standing up, ermine on shoulder and cap on head. It was in the morning, before
the court opened. In the corridors one heard the heavy boots of the gendarmes
walking past, and like a far-off noise great locks that were shut. The druggist's
ears tingled as if he were about to have an apoplectic stroke; he saw the depths
of dungeons, his family in tears, his shop sold, all the jars dispersed; and he was
obliged to enter a cafe and take a glass of rum and seltzer to recover his spirits.
Little by little the memory of this reprimand grew fainter, and he continued, as
heretofore, to give anodyne consultations in his back-parlour. But the mayor