Old Rouault on his way back began quietly smoking a pipe, which Homais in his innermost conscience thought not quite the thing. He also noticed that Monsieur Binet had not been present, and that Tuvache had “made off” after mass, and that Theodore, the notary’s servant wore a blue coat, “as if one could not have got a black coat, since that is the custom, by Jove!” And to share his observations with others he went from group to group. They were deploring Emma’s death, especially Lheureux, who had not failed to come to the funeral.
“Poor little woman! What a trouble for her husband!”
The druggist continued, “Do you know that but for me he would have committed some fatal attempt upon himself?”
“Such a good woman! To think that I saw her only last Saturday in my shop.”
“I haven’t had leisure,” said Homais, “to prepare a few words that I would have cast upon her tomb.”
Charles on getting home undressed, and old Rouault put on his blue blouse. It was a new one, and as he had often during the journey wiped his eyes on the sleeves, the dye had stained his face, and the traces of tears made lines in the layer of dust that covered it.
Madame Bovary senior was with them. All three were silent. At last the old fellow sighed—
“Do you remember, my friend, that I went to Tostes once when you had just lost your first deceased? I consoled you at that time. I thought of something to say then, but now—” Then, with a loud groan that shook his whole chest, “Ah! this is the end for me, do you see! I saw my wife go, then my son, and now to-day it’s my daughter.”
He wanted to go back at once to Bertaux, saying that he could not sleep in this house. He even refused to see his granddaughter.
“No, no! It would grieve me too much. Only you’ll kiss her many times for me. Good-bye! you’re a good fellow! And then I shall never forget that,” he said, slapping his thigh. “Never fear, you shall always have your turkey.”
But when he reached the top of the hill he turned back, as he had turned once before on the road of Saint-Victor when he had parted from her. The windows of the village were all on fire beneath the slanting rays of the sun sinking behind the field. He put his hand over his eyes, and saw in the horizon an enclosure of walls, where trees here and there formed black clusters between white stones; then he went on his way at a gentle trot, for his nag had gone lame.
Despite their fatigue, Charles and his mother stayed very long that evening talking together. They spoke of the days of the past and of the future. She would come to live at Yonville; she would keep house for him; they would never part again. She was ingenious and caressing, rejoicing in her heart at gaining once more an affection that had wandered from her for so many years. Midnight struck. The village as usual was silent, and Charles, awake, thought always of her.