Maitre Hareng, buttoned up in his thin black coat, wearing a white choker and very tight foot-straps, repeated from time to time—“Allow me, madame. You allow me?” Often he uttered exclamations. “Charming! very pretty.” Then he began writing again, dipping his pen into the horn inkstand in his left hand.
When they had done with the rooms they went up to the attic. She kept a desk there in which Rodolphe’s letters were locked. It had to be opened.
“Ah! a correspondence,” said Maitre Hareng, with a discreet smile. “But allow me, for I must make sure the box contains nothing else.” And he tipped up the papers lightly, as if to shake out napoleons. Then she grew angered to see this coarse hand, with fingers red and pulpy like slugs, touching these pages against which her heart had beaten.
They went at last. Felicite came back. Emma had sent her out to watch for Bovary in order to keep him off, and they hurriedly installed the man in possession under the roof, where he swore he would remain.
During the evening Charles seemed to her careworn. Emma watched him with a look of anguish, fancying she saw an accusation in every line of his face. Then, when her eyes wandered over the chimney-piece ornamented with Chinese screens, over the large curtains, the armchairs, all those things, in a word, that had, softened the bitterness of her life, remorse seized her or rather an immense regret, that, far from crushing, irritated her passion. Charles placidly poked the fire, both his feet on the fire-dogs.
Once the man, no doubt bored in his hiding-place, made a slight noise.
“Is anyone walking upstairs?” said Charles.
“No,” she replied; “it is a window that has been left open, and is rattling in the wind.”
The next day, Sunday, she went to Rouen to call on all the brokers whose names she knew. They were at their country-places or on journeys. She was not discouraged; and those whom she did manage to see she asked for money, declaring she must have some, and that she would pay it back. Some laughed in her face; all refused.
At two o’clock she hurried to Leon, and knocked at the door. No one answered. At length he appeared.
“What brings you here?”
“Do I disturb you?”
“No; but—” And he admitted that his landlord didn’t like his having “women” there.
“I must speak to you,” she went on.
Then he took down the key, but she stopped him.
“No, no! Down there, in our home!”
And they went to their room at the Hotel de Boulogne.
On arriving she drank off a large glass of water. She was very pale. She said to him—
“Leon, you will do me a service?”
And, shaking him by both hands that she grasped tightly, she added—
“Listen, I want eight thousand francs.”
“But you are mad!”