“Embrace me,” said the druggist with tears in his eyes. “Here is your coat, my good friend. Mind the cold; take care of yourself; look after yourself.”
“Come, Leon, jump in,” said the notary.
Homais bend over the splash-board, and in a voice broken by sobs uttered these three sad words—
“A pleasant journey!”
“Good-night,” said Monsieur Guillaumin. “Give him his head.” They set out, and Homais went back.
Madame Bovary had opened her window overlooking the garden and watched the clouds. They gathered around the sunset on the side of Rouen and then swiftly rolled back their black columns, behind which the great rays of the sun looked out like the golden arrows of a suspended trophy, while the rest of the empty heavens was white as porcelain. But a gust of wind bowed the poplars, and suddenly the rain fell; it pattered against the green leaves.
Then the sun reappeared, the hens clucked, sparrows shook their wings in the damp thickets, and the pools of water on the gravel as they flowed away carried off the pink flowers of an acacia.
“Ah! how far off he must be already!” she thought.
Monsieur Homais, as usual, came at half-past six during dinner.
“Well,” said he, “so we’ve sent off our young friend!”
“So it seems,” replied the doctor. Then turning on his chair; “Any news at home?”
“Nothing much. Only my wife was a little moved this afternoon. You know women—a nothing upsets them, especially my wife. And we should be wrong to object to that, since their nervous organization is much more malleable than ours.”
“Poor Leon!” said Charles. “How will he live at Paris? Will he get used to it?”
Madame Bovary sighed.
“Get along!” said the chemist, smacking his lips. “The outings at restaurants, the masked balls, the champagne—all that’ll be jolly enough, I assure you.”
“I don’t think he’ll go wrong,” objected Bovary.
“Nor do I,” said Monsieur Homais quickly; “although he’ll have to do like the rest for fear of passing for a Jesuit. And you don’t know what a life those dogs lead in the Latin quarter with actresses. Besides, students are thought a great deal of in Paris. Provided they have a few accomplishments, they are received in the best society; there are even ladies of the Faubourg Saint-Germain who fall in love with them, which subsequently furnishes them opportunities for making very good matches.”
“But,” said the doctor, “I fear for him that down there—”
“You are right,” interrupted the chemist; “that is the reverse of the medal. And one is constantly obliged to keep one’s hand in one’s pocket there. Thus, we will suppose you are in a public garden. An individual presents himself, well dressed, even wearing an order, and whom one would take for a diplomatist. He approaches you, he insinuates himself; offers you a pinch of snuff, or picks up your hat. Then you become more intimate; he takes you to a cafe, invites you to his country-house, introduces you, between two drinks, to all sorts of people; and three-fourths of the time it’s only to plunder your watch or lead you into some pernicious step.