The Scintillating Nature of Illicit Love...
They were three full, exquisite days-a true honeymoon. They
were at the Hotel-de-Boulogne, on the harbour; and they lived
there, with drawn blinds and closed doors, with flowers on the
floor, and iced syrups were brought them early in the morning.
Towards evening they took a covered boat and went to dine on one
of the islands. It was the time when one hears by the side of
the dockyard the caulking-mallets sounding against the hull of
vessels. The smoke of the tar rose up between the trees; there
were large fatty drops on the water, undulating in the purple
colour of the sun, like floating plaques of Florentine bronze.
They rowed down in the midst of moored boats, whose long oblique
cables grazed lightly against the bottom of the boat. The din
of the town gradually grew distant; the rolling of carriages,
the tumult of voices, the yelping of dogs on the decks of vessels.
She took off her bonnet, and they landed on their island.
They sat down in the low-ceilinged room of a tavern, at whose
door hung black nets. They ate fried smelts, cream and cherries.
They lay down upon the grass; they kissed behind the poplars;
and they would fain, like two Robinsons, have lived for ever in
this little place, which seemed to them in their beatitude the
most magnificent on earth. It was not the first time that they
had seen trees, a blue sky, meadows; that they had heard the water
flowing and the wind blowing in the leaves; but, no doubt, they
had never admired all this, as if Nature had not existed before,
or had only begun to be beautiful since the gratification of their
At night they returned. The boat glided along the shores of the
islands. They sat at the bottom, both hidden by the shade, in
silence. The square oars rang in the iron thwarts, and, in the
stillness, seemed to mark time, like the beating of a metronome,
while at the stern the rudder that trailed behind never ceased
its gentle splash against the water.
Once the moon rose; they did not fail to make fine phrases, finding
the orb melancholy and full of poetry. She even began to sing-
"One night, do you remember, we were sailing," etc.
Her musical but weak voice died away along the waves, and the
winds carried off the trills that Leon heard pass like the flapping
of wings about him.
She was opposite him, leaning against the partition of the shallop,
through one of whose raised blinds the moon streamed in. Her black
dress, whose drapery spread out like a fan, made her seem more
slender, taller. Her head was raised, her hands clasped, her eyes
turned towards heaven. At times the shadow of the willows hid
her completely; then she reappeared suddenly, like a vision in
Leon, on the floor by her side, found under his hand a ribbon
of scarlet silk. The boatman looked at it, and at last said-
"Perhaps it belongs to the party I took out the other day.
A lot of jolly folk, gentlemen and ladies, with cakes, champagne,
cornets-everything in style! There was one especially, a
tall handsome man with small moustaches, who was that funny! And
they all kept saying, ŒNow tell us something, Adolphe-Dolpe,'
"You are in pain?" asked Leon, coming closer to her.
"Oh, it's nothing! No doubt, it is only the night
"And who doesn't want for women, either," softly
added the sailor, thinking he was paying the stranger a compliment.
Then, spitting on his hands, he took the oars again.
Yet they had to part. The adieux were sad. He was to send his
letters to Mere Rollet, and she gave him such precise instructions
about a double envelope that he admired greatly her amorous astuteness.
"So you can assure me it is all right?" she said with
her last kiss.
"But why," he thought afterwards as he came back through
the streets alone, "is she so very anxious to get this power
by Gustave Flaubert
from Madame Bovary,
Part III, Chapter 3