During the journeys he made to see her, Léon had often dined at the chemists, and he felt obliged from politeness to invite him in turn.
With pleasure! Monsieur Homais replied; besides, I must invigorate my mind, for I am getting rusty here. Well go to the theatre, to the restaurant; well make a night of it.
Oh, my dear! tenderly murmured Madame Homais, alarmed at the vague perils he was preparing to brave.
Well, what? Do you think Im not sufficiently ruining my health living here amid the continual emanations of the pharmacy? But there! that is the way with women! They are jealous of science, and then are opposed to our taking the most legitimate distractions. No matter! Count upon me. One of these days I shall turn up at Rouen, and well go the pace together.
The druggist would formerly have taken good care not to use such an expression, but he was cultivating a gay Parisian style, which he thought in the best taste; and, like his neighbour, Madame Bovary, he questioned the clerk curiously about the customs of the capital; he even talked slang to dazzle the bourgeois, saying bender, crummy, dandy, macaroni, the cheese, cut my stick and Ill hook it, for I am going.
So one Thursday Emma was surprised to meet Monsieur Homais in the kitchen of the Lion dOr, wearing a travellers costume, that is to say, wrapped in an old cloak which no one knew he had, while he carried a valise in one hand and the foot-warmer of his establishment in the other. He had confided his intentions to no one, for fear of causing the public anxiety by his absence.
The idea of seeing again the place where his youth had been spent no doubt excited him, for during the whole journey he never ceased talking, and as soon as he had arrived, he jumped quickly out of the diligence to go in search of Léon. In vain the clerk tried to get rid of him. Monsieur Homais dragged him off to the large Cafe de la Normandie, which he entered majestically, not raising his hat, thinking it very provincial to uncover in any public place.
Emma waited for Léon three quarters of an hour. At last she ran to his office; and, lost in all sorts of conjectures, accusing him of indifference, and reproaching herself for her weakness, she spent the afternoon, her face pressed against the window-panes.
At two oclock they were still at a table opposite each other. The large room was emptying; the stove- pipe, in the shape of a palm-tree, spread its gilt leaves over the white ceiling, and near them, outside the window, in the bright sunshine, a little fountain gurgled in a white basin, where; in the midst of watercress and asparagus, three torpid lobsters stretched across to some quails that lay heaped up in a pile on their sides.
Homais was enjoying himself. Although he was even more intoxicated with the luxury than the rich fare, the Pommard wine all the same rather excited his faculties; and when the omelette au rhum1 appeared, he began propounding immoral theories about women. What seduced him above all else was chic. He admired an elegant toilette in a well-furnished apartment, and as to bodily qualities, he didnt dislike a young girl.
Léon watched the clock in despair. The druggist went on drinking, eating, and talking.
You must be very lonely, he said suddenly, here at Rouen. To be sure your lady-love doesnt live far away.
And the other blushed
Come now, be frank. Can you deny that at Yonville
The young man stammered something.
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