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 window-panes.
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.
Homais was enjoying himself. Although he was even more intoxicated with the luxury than the rich fare, the Pommard wine all the same rather excited his faculties; and when the omelette au rhum20 appeared, he began propounding immoral theories about women. What seduced him above all else was chic. He admired an elegant toilette in a well-furnished apartment, and as to bodily qualities, he didn’t dislike a young girl.
Leon watched the clock in despair. The druggist went on drinking, eating, and talking.
“You must be very lonely,” he said suddenly, “here at Rouen. To be sure your lady-love doesn’t live far away.”
And the other blushed —
“Come now, be frank. Can you deny that at Yonville —”
The young man stammered something.
“At Madame Bovary’s, you’re not making love to —”
He was not joking; but vanity getting the better of all prudence, Leon, in spite of himself protested. Besides, he only liked dark women.
“I approve of that,” said the chemist; “they have more passion.”
And whispering into his friend’s ear, he pointed out the symptoms by which one could find out if a woman had passion. He even launched into an ethnographic digression: the German was vapourish, the French woman licentious, the Italian passionate.
“And negresses?” asked the clerk.
“They are an artistic taste!” said Homais. “Waiter! two cups of coffee!”
“Are we going?” at last asked Leon impatiently.
But before leaving he wanted to see the proprietor of the establishment and made him a few compliments. Then the young man, to be alone, alleged he had some business engagement.
“Ah! I will escort you,” said Homais.
And all the while he was walking through the streets with him he talked of his wife, his children; of their future, and of his business; told him in what a decayed condition it had formerly been, and to what a degree of perfection he had raised it.
Arrived in front of the Hotel de Boulogne, Leon left him abruptly, ran up the stairs, and found his mistress in great excitement. At mention of the chemist she flew into a passion. He, however, piled up good reasons; it wasn’t his fault; didn’t she know Homais — did she believe that he would prefer his company? But she turned away; he drew her back, and, sinking on his knees, clasped her waist with his arms in a languorous pose, full of concupiscence and supplication.
She was standing; up, her large flashing eyes looked at him seriously, almost terribly. Then tears obscured them, her red eyelids were lowered, she gave him her hands, and Leon was pressing them to his lips when a servant appeared to tell the gentleman that he was wanted.
“You will come back?” she said.
“It’s a trick,” said the chemist, when he saw Leon. “I wanted to interrupt this visit, that seemed to me to annoy you. Let’s go and have a glass of garus at Bridoux’.”
Leon vowed that he must get back to his office. Then the druggist joked him about quill-drivers and the law.
“Leave Cujas and Barthole alone a bit. Who the devil prevents you? Be a man! Let’s go to Bridoux’. You’ll see his dog. It’s very interesting.”
And as the clerk still insisted —
“I’ll go with you. I’ll read a paper while I wait for you, or turn over the leaves of a ‘Code.’”
Leon, bewildered by Emma’s anger, Monsieur Homais’ chatter, and, perhaps, by the heaviness of the luncheon, was undecided, and, as it were, fascinated by the chemist, who kept repeating —
“Let’s go to Bridoux’. It’s just by here, in the Rue Malpalu.”
Then, through cowardice, through stupidity, through that indefinable feeling that drags us into the most distasteful acts, he allowed himself to be led off to Bridoux’, whom they found in his small yard, superintending three workmen, who panted as they turned the large wheel of a machine for making seltzer-water. Homais gave them some good advice. He embraced Bridoux; they took some garus. Twenty times Leon tried to escape, but the other seized him by the arm saying —
“Presently! I’m coming! We’ll go to the ‘Fanal de Rouen’ to see the fellows there. I’ll introduce you to Thornassin.”
At last he managed to get rid of him, and rushed straight to the hotel. Emma was no longer there. She had just gone in a fit of anger. She detested him now. This failing to keep their rendezvous seemed to her an insult, and she tried to rake up other reasons to separate herself from him. He was incapable of heroism, weak, banal, more spiritless than a woman, avaricious too, and cowardly.
Then, growing calmer, she at length discovered that she had, no doubt, calumniated him. But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.
They gradually came to talking more frequently of matters outside their love, and in the letters that Emma wrote him she spoke of flowers, verses, the moon and the stars, naive resources of a waning passion striving to keep itself alive by all external aids. She was constantly promising herself a profound felicity on her next journey. Then she confessed to herself that she felt nothing extraordinary. This disappointment quickly gave way to a new hope, and Emma returned to him more inflamed, more eager than ever. She undressed brutally, tearing off the thin laces of her corset that nestled around her hips like a gliding snake. She went on tiptoe, barefooted, to see once more that the door was closed, then, pale, serious, and, without speaking, with one movement, she threw herself upon his breast with a long shudder.
Yet there was upon that brow covered with cold drops, on those quivering lips, in those wild eyes, in the strain of those arms, something vague and dreary that seemed to Leon to glide between them subtly as if to separate them.
He did not dare to question her; but, seeing her so skilled, she must have passed, he thought, through every experience of suffering and of pleasure. What had once charmed now frightened him a little. Besides, he rebelled against his absorption, daily more marked, by her personality. He begrudged Emma this constant victory. He even strove not to love her; then, when he heard the creaking of her boots, he turned coward, like drunkards at the sight of strong drinks.
She did not fail, in truth, to lavish all sorts of attentions upon him, from the delicacies of food to the coquettries of dress and languishing looks. She brought roses to her breast from Yonville, which she threw into his face; was anxious about his health, gave him advice as to his conduct; and, in order the more surely to keep her hold on him, hoping perhaps that heaven would take her part, she tied a medal of the Virgin round his neck. She inquired like a virtuous mother about his companions. She said to him —
“Don’t see them; don’t go out; think only of ourselves; love me!”
She would have liked to be able to watch over his life; and the idea occurred to her of having him followed in the streets. Near the hotel there was always a kind of loafer who accosted travellers, and who would not refuse. But her pride revolted at this.
“Bah! so much the worse. Let him deceive me! What does it matter to me? As If I cared for him!”
One day, when they had parted early and she was returning alone along the boulevard, she saw the walls of her convent; then she sat down on a form in the shade of the elm-trees. How calm that time had been! How she longed for the ineffable sentiments of love that she had tried to figure to herself out of books! The first month of her marriage, her rides in the wood, the viscount that waltzed, and Lagardy singing, all repassed before her eyes. And Leon suddenly appeared to her as far off as the others.
“Yet I love him,” she said to herself.
No matter! She was not happy — she never had been. Whence came this insufficiency in life — this instantaneous turning to decay of everything on which she leant? But if there were somewhere a being strong and beautiful, a valiant nature, full at once of exaltation and refinement, a poet’s heart in an angel’s form, a lyre with sounding chords ringing out elegiac epithalamia to heaven, why, perchance, should she not find him? Ah! how impossible! Besides, nothing was worth the trouble of seeking it; everything was a lie. Every smile hid a yawn of boredom, every joy a curse, all pleasure satiety, and the sweetest kisses left upon your lips only the unattainable desire for a greater delight.
A metallic clang droned through the air, and four strokes were heard from the convent-clock. Four o’clock! And it seemed to her that she had been there on that form an eternity. But an infinity of passions may be contained in a minute, like a crowd in a small space.
Emma lived all absorbed in hers, and troubled no more about money matters than an archduchess.
Once, however, a wretched-looking man, rubicund and bald, came to her house, saying he had been sent by Monsieur Vincart of Rouen. He took out the pins that held together the side-pockets of his long green overcoat, stuck them into his sleeve, and politely handed her a paper.
It was a bill for seven hundred francs, signed by her, and which Lheureux, in spite of all his professions, had paid away to Vincart. She sent her servant for him. He could not come. Then the stranger, who had remained standing, casting right and left curious glances, that his thick, fair eyebrows hid, asked with a naive air —
“What answer am I to take Monsieur Vincart?”
“Oh,” said Emma, “tell him that I haven’t it. I will send next week; he must wait; yes, till next week.”
And the fellow went without another word.
But the next day at twelve o’clock she received a summons, and the sight of the stamped paper, on which appeared several times in large letters, “Maitre Hareng, bailiff at Buchy,” so frightened her that she rushed in hot haste to the linendraper’s. She found him in his shop, doing up a parcel.
“Your obedient!” he said; “I am at your service.”
But Lheureux, all the same, went on with his work, helped by a young girl of about thirteen, somewhat hunch-backed, who was at once his clerk and his servant.
Then, his clogs clattering on the shop-boards, he went up in front of Madame Bovary to the first door, and introduced her into a narrow closet, where, in a large bureau in sapon-wood, lay some ledgers, protected by a horizontal padlocked iron bar. Against the wall, under some remnants of calico, one glimpsed a safe, but of such dimensions that it must contain something besides bills and money. Monsieur Lheureux, in fact, went in for pawnbroking, and it was there that he had put Madame Bovary’s gold chain, together with the earrings of poor old Tellier, who, at last forced to sell out, had bought a meagre store of grocery at Quincampoix, where he was dying of catarrh amongst his candles, that were less yellow than his face.
Lheureux sat down in a large cane arm-chair, saying: “What news?”
And she showed him the paper.
“Well how can I help it?”
Then she grew angry, reminding him of the promise he had given not to pay away her bills. He acknowledged it.
“But I was pressed myself; the knife was at my own throat.”
“And what will happen now?” she went on.
“Oh, it’s very simple; a judgment and then a distraint — that’s about it!”
Emma kept down a desire to strike him, and asked gently if there was no way of quieting Monsieur Vincart.
“I dare say! Quiet Vincart! You don’t know him; he’s more ferocious than an Arab!”
Still Monsieur Lheureux must interfere.
“Well, listen. It seems to me so far I’ve been very good to you.” And opening one of his ledgers, “See,” he said. Then running up the page with his finger, “Let’s see! let’s see! August 3d, two hundred francs; June 17th, a hundred and fifty; March 23d, forty-six. In April —”
He stopped, as if afraid of making some mistake.
“Not to speak of the bills signed by Monsieur Bovary, one for seven hundred francs, and another for three hundred. As to your little installments, with the interest, why, there’s no end to ’em; one gets quite muddled over ’em. I’ll have nothing more to do with it.”
She wept; she even called him “her good Monsieur Lheureux.” But he always fell back upon “that rascal Vincart.” Besides, he hadn’t a brass farthing; no one was paying him now-a-days; they were eating his coat off his back; a poor shopkeeper like him couldn’t advance money.
Emma was silent, and Monsieur Lheureux, who was biting the feathers of a quill, no doubt became uneasy at her silence, for he went on —
“Unless one of these days I have something coming in, I might —”
“Besides,” said she, “as soon as the balance of Barneville —”
And on hearing that Langlois had not yet paid he seemed much surprised. Then in a honied voice —
“And we agree, you say?”
“Oh! to anything you like.”
On this he closed his eyes to reflect, wrote down a few figures, and declaring it would be very difficult for him, that the affair was shady, and that he was being bled, he wrote out four bills for two hundred and fifty francs each, to fall due month by month.
“Provided that Vincart will listen to me! However, it’s settled. I don’t play the fool; I’m straight enough.”
Next he carelessly showed her several new goods, not one of which, however, was in his opinion worthy of madame.
“When I think that there’s a dress at threepence-halfpenny a yard, and warranted fast colours! And yet they actually swallow it! Of course you understand one doesn’t tell them what it really is!” He hoped by this confession of dishonesty to others to quite convince her of his probity to her.
Then he called her back to show her three yards of guipure that he had lately picked up “at a sale.”
“Isn’t it lovely?” said Lheureux. “It is very much used now for the backs of arm-chairs. It’s quite the rage.”
And, more ready than a juggler, he wrapped up the guipure in some blue paper and put it in Emma’s hands.
“But at least let me know —”
“Yes, another time,” he replied, turning on his heel.
That same evening she urged Bovary to write to his mother, to ask her to send as quickly as possible the whole of the balance due from the father’s estate. The mother-in-law replied that she had nothing more, the winding up was over, and there was due to them besides Barneville an income of six hundred francs, that she would pay them punctually.
Then Madame Bovary sent in accounts to two or three patients, and she made large use of this method, which was very successful. She was always careful to add a postscript: “Do not mention this to my husband; you know how proud he is. Excuse me. Yours obediently.” There were some complaints; she intercepted them.
To get money she began selling her old gloves, her old hats, the old odds and ends, and she bargained rapaciously, her peasant blood standing her in good stead. Then on her journey to town she picked up nick-nacks secondhand, that, in default of anyone else, Monsieur Lheureux would certainly take off her hands. She bought ostrich feathers, Chinese porcelain, and trunks; she borrowed from Felicite, from Madame Lefrancois, from the landlady at the Croix-Rouge, from everybody, no matter where.
With the money she at last received from Barneville she paid two bills; the other fifteen hundred francs fell due. She renewed the bills, and thus it was continually.
Sometimes, it is true, she tried to make a calculation, but she discovered things so exorbitant that she could not believe them possible. Then she recommenced, soon got confused, gave it all up, and thought no more about it.
The house was very dreary now. Tradesmen were seen leaving it with angry faces. Handkerchiefs were lying about on the stoves, and little Berthe, to the great scandal of Madame Homais, wore stockings with holes in them. If Charles timidly ventured a remark, she answered roughly that it wasn’t her fault.
What was the meaning of all these fits of temper? She explained everything through her old nervous illness, and reproaching himself with having taken her infirmities for faults, accused himself of egotism, and longed to go and take her in his arms.
“Ah, no!” he said to himself; “I should worry her.”
And he did not stir.
After dinner he walked about alone in the garden; he took little Berthe on his knees, and unfolding his medical journal, tried to teach her to read. But the child, who never had any lessons, soon looked up with large, sad eyes and began to cry. Then he comforted her; went to fetch water in her can to make rivers on the sand path, or broke off branches from the privet hedges to plant trees in the beds. This did not spoil the garden much, all choked now with long weeds. They owed Lestiboudois for so many days. Then the child grew cold and asked for her mother.
“Call the servant,” said Charles. “You know, dearie, that mamma does not like to be disturbed.”
Autumn was setting in, and the leaves were already falling, as they did two years ago when she was ill. Where would it all end? And he walked up and down, his hands behind his back.
Madame was in her room, which no one entered. She stayed there all day long, torpid, half dressed, and from time to time burning Turkish pastilles which she had bought at Rouen in an Algerian’s shop. In order not to have at night this sleeping man stretched at her side, by dint of manoeuvring, she at last succeeded in banishing him to the second floor, while she read till morning extravagant books, full of pictures of orgies and thrilling situations. Often, seized with fear, she cried out, and Charles hurried to her.
“Oh, go away!” she would say.
Or at other times, consumed more ardently than ever by that inner flame to which adultery added fuel, panting, tremulous, all desire, she threw open her window, breathed in the cold air, shook loose in the wind her masses of hair, too heavy, and, gazing upon the stars, longed for some princely love. She thought of him, of Leon. She would then have given anything for a single one of those meetings that surfeited her.
These were her gala days. She wanted them to be sumptuous, and when he alone could not pay the expenses, she made up the deficit liberally, which happened pretty well every time. He tried to make her understand that they would be quite as comfortable somewhere else, in a smaller hotel, but she always found some objection.
One day she drew six small silver-gilt spoons from her bag (they were old Roualt’s wedding present), begging him to pawn them at once for her, and Leon obeyed, though the proceeding annoyed him. He was afraid of compromising himself.
Then, on, reflection, he began to think his mistress’s ways were growing odd, and that they were perhaps not wrong in wishing to separate him from her.
In fact someone had sent his mother a long anonymous letter to warn her that he was “ruining himself with a married woman,” and the good lady at once conjuring up the eternal bugbear of families the vague pernicious creature, the siren, the monster, who dwells fantastically in depths of love, wrote to Lawyer Dubocage, his employer, who behaved perfectly in the affair. He kept him for three quarters of an hour trying to open his eyes, to warn him of the abyss into which he was falling. Such an intrigue would damage him later on, when he set up for himself. He implored him to break with her, and, if he would not make this sacrifice in his own interest, to do it at least for his, Dubocage’s sake.
At last Leon swore he would not see Emma again, and he reproached himself with not having kept his word, considering all the worry and lectures this woman might still draw down upon him, without reckoning the jokes made by his companions as they sat round the stove in the morning. Besides, he was soon to be head clerk; it was time to settle down. So he gave up his flute, exalted sentiments, and poetry; for every bourgeois in the flush of his youth, were it but for a day, a moment, has believed himself capable of immense passions, of lofty enterprises. The most mediocre libertine has dreamed of sultanas; every notary bears within him the debris of a poet.
He was bored now when Emma suddenly began to sob on his breast, and his heart, like the people who can only stand a certain amount of music, dozed to the sound of a love whose delicacies he no longer noted.
They knew one another too well for any of those surprises of possession that increase its joys a hundred-fold. She was as sick of him as he was weary of her. Emma found again in adultery all the platitudes of marriage.
But how to get rid of him? Then, though she might feel humiliated at the baseness of such enjoyment, she clung to it from habit or from corruption, and each day she hungered after them the more, exhausting all felicity in wishing for too much of it. She accused Leon of her baffled hopes, as if he had betrayed her; and she even longed for some catastrophe that would bring about their separation, since she had not the courage to make up her mind to it herself.
She none the less went on writing him love letters, in virtue of the notion that a woman must write to her lover.
But whilst she wrote it was another man she saw, a phantom fashioned out of her most ardent memories, of her finest reading, her strongest lusts, and at last he became so real, so tangible, that she palpitated wondering, without, however, the power to imagine him clearly, so lost was he, like a god, beneath the abundance of his attributes. He dwelt in that azure land where silk ladders hang from balconies under the breath of flowers, in the light of the moon. She felt him near her; he was coming, and would carry her right away in a kiss.
Then she fell back exhausted, for these transports of vague love wearied her more than great debauchery.
She now felt constant ache all over her. Often she even received summonses, stamped paper that she barely looked at. She would have liked not to be alive, or to be always asleep.
On Mid-Lent she did not return to Yonville, but in the evening went to a masked ball. She wore velvet breeches, red stockings, a club wig, and three-cornered hat cocked on one side. She danced all night to the wild tones of the trombones; people gathered round her, and in the morning she found herself on the steps of the theatre together with five or six masks, debardeuses21 and sailors, Leon’s comrades, who were talking about having supper.
The neighbouring cafes were full. They caught sight of one on the harbour, a very indifferent restaurant, whose proprietor showed them to a little room on the fourth floor.
The men were whispering in a corner, no doubt consorting about expenses. There were a clerk, two medical students, and a shopman — what company for her! As to the women, Emma soon perceived from the tone of their voices that they must almost belong to the lowest class. Then she was frightened, pushed back her chair, and cast down her eyes.
The others began to eat; she ate nothing. Her head was on fire, her eyes smarted, and her skin was ice-cold. In her head she seemed to feel the floor of the ball-room rebounding again beneath the rhythmical pulsation of the thousands of dancing feet. And now the smell of the punch, the smoke of the cigars, made her giddy. She fainted, and they carried her to the window.
Day was breaking, and a great stain of purple colour broadened out in the pale horizon over the St. Catherine hills. The livid river was shivering in the wind; there was no one on the bridges; the street lamps were going out.
She revived, and began thinking of Berthe asleep yonder in the servant’s room. Then a cart filled with long strips of iron passed by, and made a deafening metallic vibration against the walls of the houses.
She slipped away suddenly, threw off her costume, told Leon she must get back, and at last was alone at the Hotel de Boulogne. Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again.
She went out, crossed the Boulevard, the Place Cauchoise, and the Faubourg, as far as an open street that overlooked some gardens. She walked rapidly; the fresh air calming her; and, little by little, the faces of the crowd, the masks, the quadrilles, the lights, the supper, those women, all disappeared like mists fading away. Then, reaching the “Croix-Rouge,” she threw herself on the bed in her little room on the second floor, where there were pictures of the “Tour de Nesle.” At four o’clock Hivert awoke her.
When she got home, Felicite showed her behind the clock a grey paper. She read —
“In virtue of the seizure in execution of a judgment.”
What judgment? As a matter of fact, the evening before another paper had been brought that she had not yet seen, and she was stunned by these words —
“By order of the king, law, and justice, to Madame Bovary.” Then, skipping several lines, she read, “Within twenty-four hours, without fail —” But what? “To pay the sum of eight thousand francs.” And there was even at the bottom, “She will be constrained thereto by every form of law, and notably by a writ of distraint on her furniture and effects.”
What was to be done? In twenty-four hours — tomorrow. Lheureux, she thought, wanted to frighten her again; for she saw through all his devices, the object of his kindnesses. What reassured her was the very magnitude of the sum.
However, by dint of buying and not paying, of borrowing, signing bills, and renewing these bills that grew at each new falling-in, she had ended by preparing a capital for Monsieur Lheureux which he was impatiently awaiting for his speculations.
She presented herself at his place with an offhand air.
“You know what has happened to me? No doubt it’s a joke!”
He turned away slowly, and, folding his arms, said to her —
“My good lady, did you think I should go on to all eternity being your purveyor and banker, for the love of God? Now be just. I must get back what I’ve laid out. Now be just.”
She cried out against the debt.
“Ah! so much the worse. The court has admitted it. There’s a judgment. It’s been notified to you. Besides, it isn’t my fault. It’s Vincart’s.”
“Could you not —?”
“Oh, nothing whatever.”
“But still, now talk it over.”
And she began beating about the bush; she had known nothing about it; it was a surprise.
“Whose fault is that?” said Lheureux, bowing ironically. “While I’m slaving like a nigger, you go gallivanting about.”
“Ah! no lecturing.”
“It never does any harm,” he replied.
She turned coward; she implored him; she even pressed her pretty white and slender hand against the shopkeeper’s knee.
“There, that’ll do! Anyone’d think you wanted to seduce me!”
“You are a wretch!” she cried.
“Oh, oh! go it! go it!”
“I will show you up. I shall tell my husband.”
“All right! I too. I’ll show your husband something.”
And Lheureux drew from his strong box the receipt for eighteen hundred francs that she had given him when Vincart had discounted the bills.
“Do you think,” he added, “that he’ll not understand your little theft, the poor dear man?”
She collapsed, more overcome than if felled by the blow of a pole-axe. He was walking up and down from the window to the bureau, repeating all the while —
“Ah! I’ll show him! I’ll show him!” Then he approached her, and in a soft voice said —
“It isn’t pleasant, I know; but, after all, no bones are broken, and, since that is the only way that is left for you paying back my money —”
“But where am I to get any?” said Emma, wringing her hands.
“Bah! when one has friends like you!”
And he looked at her in so keen, so terrible a fashion, that she shuddered to her very heart.
“I promise you,” she said, “to sign —”
“I’ve enough of your signatures.”
“I will sell something.”
“Get along!” he said, shrugging his shoulders; “you’ve not got anything.”
And he called through the peep-hole that looked down into the shop —
“Annette, don’t forget the three coupons of No. 14.”
The servant appeared. Emma understood, and asked how much money would be wanted to put a stop to the proceedings.
“It is too late.”
“But if I brought you several thousand francs — a quarter of the sum — a third — perhaps the whole?”
“No; it’s no use!”
And he pushed her gently towards the staircase.
“I implore you, Monsieur Lheureux, just a few days more!” She was sobbing.
“There! tears now!”
“You are driving me to despair!”
“What do I care?” said he, shutting the door.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:50