This was a sort of permission that she gave herself, so as to get perfect freedom in her escapades. And she profited by it freely, fully. When she was seized with the desire to see Leon, she set out upon any pretext; and as he was not expecting her on that day, she went to fetch him at his office.
It was a great delight at first, but soon he no longer concealed the truth, which was, that his master complained very much about these interruptions.
“Pshaw! come along,” she said.
And he slipped out.
She wanted him to dress all in black, and grow a pointed beard, to look like the portraits of Louis XIII. She wanted to see his lodgings; thought them poor. He blushed at them, but she did not notice this, then advised him to buy some curtains like hers, and as he objected to the expense—
“Ah! ah! you care for your money,” she said laughing.
Each time Leon had to tell her everything that he had done since their last meeting. She asked him for some verses—some verses “for herself,” a “love poem” in honour of her. But he never succeeded in getting a rhyme for the second verse; and at last ended by copying a sonnet in a “Keepsake.” This was less from vanity than from the one desire of pleasing her. He did not question her ideas; he accepted all her tastes; he was rather becoming her mistress than she his. She had tender words and kisses that thrilled his soul. Where could she have learnt this corruption almost incorporeal in the strength of its profanity and dissimulation?
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.