'So that is why he always looks so pleased when he is going to see her. That is why he puts on his best waistcoat and risks spoiling it in the rain. Horrid woman!'
And she took an instinctive dislike to her. At first she relieved her feelings by delivering herself of little veiled allusions. Charles did not take them in. Then she indulged in more pointed remarks, which he ignored for fear of a scene. At last she told him to his face what she thought of him, and he didn't know what to reply. What did he want to keep on going to les Bertaux for? Monsieur Rouault was all right again now, and besides that, he hadn't paid his bill. Ah, she knew all about it! There was someone else there, someone who was a good talker, someone who was accomplished and clever. That's what he was so fond of. He liked young, town-bred ladies! And then she would start off again:
'Old Rouault's daughter town-bred! Go along with you! Why, the grandfather was a shepherd, and a cousin of theirs nearly found himself in court for a piece of sharp practice in some dispute or other. She's a nice one to put on airs and to go flaunting it in a silk dress at church on Sunday, as though she fancied herself a countess. Why, if it hadn't been that he did pretty well on his colza crop last year, the poor man would have been hard put to it to keep his head above water.'
Charles yielded from very weariness, and gave up his visits to les Bertaux. Heloise, after much weeping and a great outburst of affection, had made him take his Bible oath not to go there any more. And so he knuckled under. Nevertheless, his eagerness to go made him ashamed of the servility of his conduct, and, with a sort of childish hypocrisy, he persuaded himself that because he was forbidden to see her, it was lawful for him to love her. And then, the widow was lean and long in the tooth. All the year round she wore a little black shawl with the point between her shoulder-blades. Her lank, hard figure was encased in sheath-like dresses that, being always too short for her, showed off her feet and the ribands of her broad shoes criss-crossed over her grey worsted stockings.
Every now and again Charles's mother would come to stay, but after a few days the daughter-in-law seemed to sharpen her on her own file, and then they would be at him like a couple of razors, scarifying him with all manner of criticism and fault-finding. He oughtn't to eat so much. What did he want to go and offer wine for to every chance comer? What stupid obstinacy not to wear woollen underclothes!
It came to pass that one fine day in the early spring a notary of Ingouville who had charge of the widow Dubuc's investments sailed away and took with him all his clients' money. Heloise, it is true, still had a share in a ship valued at six thousand francs and her house in the Rue Saint-Francois; nevertheless, of all that fortune of hers she had made such a song about, nothing save a few bits of furniture and some odds and ends of wearing apparel had made its appearance in the household. The thing had to be looked into thoroughly. The house in Dieppe was mortgaged up to the hilt; what she had had with the notary God only knew, and her share in the vessel was not more than two hundred pounds. So she had lied, the good lady! Monsieur Bovary, senior, flew into such a rage that he took up a chair and smashed it on the stone floor, and told his wife she had been the ruin of her son, yoking him to a jade like that, whose harness wasn't worth as much as her skin. They came to Tostes and insisted on having things out. There was a scene. Heloise in tears threw herself into her husband's arms and implored him to defend her against his parents. Charles tried to stand up for her. The old people were indignant and left the house.
But the blow had struck home. A week later, as she was hanging out the washing in the yard, she was seized with an attack of bloodspitting, and the next day, while Charles had his back to her, drawing the window curtain, she exclaimed, 'Ah! mon Dieu!' heaved a sigh and went off unconscious.
She was dead! What an astounding thing!
When all was over at the cemetery Charles returned to the house. There was no one downstairs. He went up into the bedroom and saw her dress hanging up at the foot of the bed. Then, leaning against the secretaire, he remained there till it was dark, lost in sorrowful meditation. After all, she had loved him.