Monsieur Léon, while studying law, had gone pretty often to the dancing-rooms, where he was even a great success amongst the grisettes, who thought he had a distinguished air. He was the best-mannered of the students; he wore his hair neither too long nor too short, didnt spend all his quarters money on the first day of the month, and kept on good terms with his professors. As for excesses, he had always abstained from them, as much from cowardice as from refinement.
Often when he stayed in his room to read, or else when sitting of an evening under the lime-trees of the Luxembourg, he let his Code fall to the ground, and the memory of Emma came back to him. But gradually this feeling grew weaker, and other desires gathered over it, although it still persisted through them all. For Léon did not lose all hope; there was for him, as it were, a vague promise floating in the future, like a golden fruit suspended from some fantastic tree.
Then, seeing her again after three years of absence his passion reawakened. He must, he thought, at last make up his mind to possess her. Moreover, his timidity had worn off by contact with his gay companions, and he returned to the provinces despising everyone who had not with varnished shoes trodden the asphalt of the boulevards. By the side of a Parisienne in her laces, in the drawing-room of some illustrious physician, a person driving his carriage and wearing many orders, the poor clerk would no doubt have trembled like a child; but here, at Rouen, on the harbour, with the wife of this small doctor he felt at his ease, sure beforehand he would shine. Self-possession depends on its environment. We dont speak on the first floor as on the fourth; and the wealthy woman seems to have, about her, to guard her virtue, all her banknotes, like a cuirass in the lining of her corset.
On leaving the Bovarys the night before, Léon had followed them through the streets at a distance; then having seen them stop at the Croix-Rouge, he turned on his heel, and spent the night meditating a plan.
So the next day about five oclock he walked into the kitchen of the inn, with a choking sensation in his throat, pale cheeks, and that resolution of cowards that stops at nothing.
The gentleman isnt in, answered a servant.
This seemed to him a good omen. He went upstairs.
She was not disturbed at his approach; on the contrary, she apologised for having neglected to tell him where they were staying.
Oh, I divined it! said Léon.
He pretended he had been guided towards her by chance, by, instinct. She began to smile; and at once, to repair his folly, Léon told her that he had spent his morning in looking for her in all the hotels in the town one after the other.
So you have made up your mind to stay? he added.
Yes, she said, and I am wrong. One ought not to accustom oneself to impossible pleasures when there are a thousand demands upon one.
Oh, I can imagine!
Ah! no; for you, you are a man!
But men too had had their trials, and the conversation went off into certain philosophical reflections. Emma expatiated much on the misery of earthly affections, and the eternal isolation in which the heart remains entombed.
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