“Now,” said the chemist, “you ought yourself to fix the hour for the ceremony.”
“Why? What ceremony?” Then, in a stammering, frightened voice, “Oh, no! not that. No! I want to see her here.”
Homais, to keep himself in countenance, took up a water-bottle on the whatnot to water the geraniums.
“Ah! thanks,” said Charles; “you are good.”
But he did not finish, choking beneath the crowd of memories that this action of the druggist recalled to him.
Then to distract him, Homais thought fit to talk a little horticulture: plants wanted humidity. Charles bowed his head in sign of approbation.
“Besides, the fine days will soon be here again.”
“Ah!” said Bovary.
The druggist, at his wit’s end, began softly to draw aside the small window-curtain.
“Hallo! there’s Monsieur Tuvache passing.”
Charles repeated like a machine—–
“Monsieur Tuvache passing!”
Homais did not dare to speak to him again about the funeral arrangements; it was the priest who succeeded in reconciling him to them.
He shut himself up in his consulting-room, took a pen, and after sobbing for some time, wrote—
“I wish her to be buried in her wedding-dress, with white shoes, and a wreath. Her hair is to be spread out over her shoulders. Three coffins, one of oak, one of mahogany, one of lead. Let no one say anything to me. I shall have strength. Over all there is to be placed a large piece of green velvet. This is my wish; see that it is done.”
The two men were much surprised at Bovary’s romantic ideas. The chemist at once went to him and said—
“This velvet seems to me a superfetation. Besides, the expense—”
“What’s that to you?” cried Charles. “Leave me! You did not love her. Go!”
The priest took him by the arm for a turn in the garden. He discoursed on the vanity of earthly things. God was very great, was very good: one must submit to his decrees without a murmur; nay, must even thank him.
Charles burst out into blasphemies: “I hate your God!”
“The spirit of rebellion is still upon you,” sighed the ecclesiastic.
Bovary was far away. He was walking with great strides along by the wall, near the espalier, and he ground his teeth; he raised to heaven looks of malediction, but not so much as a leaf stirred.
A fine rain was falling: Charles, whose chest was bare, at last began to shiver; he went in and sat down in the kitchen.
At six o’clock a noise like a clatter of old iron was heard on the Place; it was the “Hirondelle” coming in, and he remained with his forehead against the windowpane, watching all the passengers get out, one after the other. Felicite put down a mattress for him in the drawing-room. He threw himself upon it and fell asleep.
Although a philosopher, Monsieur Homais respected the dead. So bearing no grudge to poor Charles, he came back again in the evening to sit up with the body; bringing with him three volumes and a pocket-book for taking notes.