“So you can assure me it is all right?” she said with her last kiss.
“But why,” he thought afterwards as he came back through the streets alone, “is she so very anxious to get this power of attorney?”
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 next day.
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.