Gradually Rodolphes fears took possession of her. At first, love had intoxicated her; and she had thought of nothing beyond. But now that he was indispensable to her life, she feared to lose anything of this, or even that it should be disturbed. When she came back from his house she looked all about her, anxiously watching every form that passed in the horizon, and every village window from which she could be seen. She listened for steps, cries, the noise of the ploughs, and she stopped short, white, and trembling more than the aspen leaves swaying overhead.
One morning as she was thus returning, she suddenly thought she saw the long barrel of a carbine that seemed to be aimed at her. It stuck out sideways from the end of a small tub half-buried in the grass on the edge of a ditch. Emma, half-fainting with terror, nevertheless walked on, and a man stepped out of the tub like a Jack-in-the-box. He had gaiters buckled up to the knees, his cap pulled down over his eyes, trembling lips, and a red nose. It was Captain Binet lying in ambush for wild ducks.
You ought to have called out long ago! he exclaimed; When one sees a gun, one should always give warning.
The tax-collector was thus trying to hide the fright he had had, for a prefectorial order having prohibited duckhunting except in boats, Monsieur Binet, despite his respect for the laws, was infringing them, and so he every moment expected to see the rural guard turn up. But this anxiety whetted his pleasure, and, all alone in his tub, he congratulated himself on his luck and on his cuteness.
At sight of Emma he seemed relieved from a great weight, and at once entered upon a conversation.
It isnt warm; its nipping.
Emma answered nothing. He went on
And youre out so early?
Yes, she said stammering; I am just coming from the nurse where my child is.
Ah! very good! very good! For myself, I am here, just as you see me, since break of day; but the weather is so muggy, that unless one had the bird at the mouth of the gun
Good evening, Monsieur Binet, she interrupted him, turning on her heel.
Your servant, madame, he replied drily; and he went back into his tub.
Emma regretted having left the tax-collector so abruptly. No doubt he would form unfavourable conjectures. The story about the nurse was the worst possible excuse, everyone at Yonville knowing that the little Bovary had been at home with her parents for a year. Besides, no one was living in this direction; this path led only to La Huchette. Binet, then, would guess whence she came, and he would not keep silence; he would talk, that was certain. She remained until evening racking her brain with every conceivable lying project, and had constantly before her eyes that imbecile with the game-bag.
Charles after dinner, seeing her gloomy, proposed, by way of distraction, to take her to the chemists, and the first person she caught sight of in the shop was the taxcollector again. He was standing in front of the counter, lit up by the gleams of the red bottle, and was saying
Please give me half an ounce of vitriol.
Justin, cried the druggist, bring us the sulphuric acid. Then to Emma, who was going up to Madame Homais room, No, stay here; it isnt worth while going up; she is just coming down. Warm yourself at the stove in the meantime. Excuse me. Good-day, doctor, (for the chemist much enjoyed pronouncing the word doctor, as if addressing another by it reflected on himself some of the grandeur that he found
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