“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.
She was stoical the next day when Maitre Hareng, the bailiff, with two assistants, presented himself at her house to draw up the inventory for the distraint.
They began with Bovary’s consulting-room, and did not write down the phrenological head, which was considered an “instrument of his profession”; but in the kitchen they counted the plates; the saucepans, the chairs, the candlesticks, and in the bedroom all the nick-nacks on the whatnot. They examined her dresses, the linen, the dressing-room; and her whole existence to its most intimate details, was, like a corpse on whom a post-mortem is made, outspread before the eyes of these three men.