They began to love one another again. Often, even in the middle of the day, Emma suddenly wrote to him, then from the window made a sign to Justin, who, taking his apron off, quickly ran to La Huchette. Rodolphe would come; she had sent for him to tell him that she was bored, that her husband was odious, her life frightful.
But what can I do? he cried one day impatiently.
Ah! if you would
She was sitting on the floor between his knees, her hair loose, her look lost.
Why, what? said Rodolphe.
We would go and live elsewheresomewhere!
You are really mad! he said laughing. How could that be possible?
She returned to the subject; he pretended not to understand, and turned the conversation.
What he did not understand was all this worry about so simple an affair as love. She had a motive, a reason, and, as it were, a pendant to her affection.
Her tenderness, in fact, grew each day with her repulsion to her husband. The more she gave up herself to the one, the more she loathed the other. Never had Charles seemed to her so disagreeable, to have such stodgy fingers, such vulgar ways, to be so dull as when they found themselves together after her meeting with Rodolphe. Then, while playing the spouse and virtue, she was burning at the thought of that head whose black hair fell in a curl over the sunburnt brow, of that form at once so strong and elegant, of that man, in a word, who had such experience in his reasoning, such passion in his desires. It was for him that she filed her nails with the care of a chaser, and that there was never enough cold-cream for her skin, nor of patchouli for her handkerchiefs. She loaded herself with bracelets, rings, and necklaces. When he was coming she filled the two large blue glass vases with roses, and prepared her room and her person like a courtesan expecting a prince. The servant had to be constantly washing linen, and all day Felicite did not stir from the kitchen, where little Justin, who often kept her company, watched her at work.
With his elbows on the long board on which she was ironing, he greedily watched all these womens clothes spread about him, the dimity petticoats, the fichus, the collars, and the drawers with running strings, wide at the hips and growing narrower below.
What is that for? asked the young fellow, passing his hand over the crinoline or the hooks and eyes.
Why, havent you ever seen anything? Felicite answered laughing. As if your mistress, Madame Homais, didnt wear the same.
Oh, I daresay! Madame Homais! And he added with a meditative air, As if she were a lady like madame!
But Felicite grew impatient of seeing him hanging round her. She was six years older than he, and Theodore, Monsieur Guillaumins servant, was beginning to pay court to her.
Let me alone, she said, moving her pot of starch. Youd better be off and pound almonds; you are always dangling about women. Before you meddle with such things, bad boy, wait till youve got a beard to your chin.
Oh, dont be cross! Ill go and clean her boots.
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