Suddenly on the pavement was heard a loud noise of clogs and the clattering of a stick; and a voice rose—a raucous voice—that sang—
“Maids in the warmth of a summer day Dream of love and of love always”
Emma raised herself like a galvanised corpse, her hair undone, her eyes fixed, staring.
“Where the sickle blades have been, Nannette, gathering ears of corn, Passes bending down, my queen, To the earth where they were born.”
“The blind man!” she cried. And Emma began to laugh, an atrocious, frantic, despairing laugh, thinking she saw the hideous face of the poor wretch that stood out against the eternal night like a menace.
“The wind is strong this summer day, Her petticoat has flown away.”
She fell back upon the mattress in a convulsion. They all drew near. She was dead.
There is always after the death of anyone a kind of stupefaction; so difficult is it to grasp this advent of nothingness and to resign ourselves to believe in it. But still, when he saw that she did not move, Charles threw himself upon her, crying—
Homais and Canivet dragged him from the room.
“Yes.” said he, struggling, “I’ll be quiet. I’ll not do anything. But leave me alone. I want to see her. She is my wife!”
And he wept.
“Cry,” said the chemist; “let nature take her course; that will solace you.”
Weaker than a child, Charles let himself be led downstairs into the sitting-room, and Monsieur Homais soon went home. On the Place he was accosted by the blind man, who, having dragged himself as far as Yonville, in the hope of getting the antiphlogistic pomade, was asking every passer-by where the druggist lived.
“There now! as if I hadn’t got other fish to fry. Well, so much the worse; you must come later on.”
And he entered the shop hurriedly.
He had to write two letters, to prepare a soothing potion for Bovary, to invent some lie that would conceal the poisoning, and work it up into an article for the “Fanal,” without counting the people who were waiting to get the news from him; and when the Yonvillers had all heard his story of the arsenic that she had mistaken for sugar in making a vanilla cream. Homais once more returned to Bovary’s.
He found him alone (Monsieur Canivet had left), sitting in an arm-chair near the window, staring with an idiotic look at the flags of the floor.