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.”