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This warning from Rodolphe begins to worry Emma – and one day, she encounters Binet illegally duck hunting. He has his own worries, since he’s breaking the law, but Emma begins to fear that he will tell everyone he saw her gadding about in the wee hours of the morning.
She stresses out about this all day. In the evening, Charles insists that they go get something to perk herself up from Monsieur Homais.
While they’re at the pharmacist’s, they happen to run into Binet, who makes a knowing comment about the humid weather, referencing their encounter that morning in the mist.
This alarms Emma. She’s relieved when Binet leaves.
The Binet incident makes Emma and Rodolphe rethink their meeting strategy. They decide that Rodolphe will look for a safe place to meet. In the meanwhile, they meet late at night in the back garden of the Bovarys’ house, after Charles has gone to sleep (doesn’t that seem a little risky, too?).
Léon is all but forgotten by this time.
One night, Emma hears someone coming, and worries that it’s Charles. She asks Rodolphe if he has pistols with which to defend himself against her husband. Rodolphe finds this concern absurd and in poor taste. In fact, he’s beginning to find many of Emma’s demands and goings-on rather vulgar.
Emma’s ridiculously romantic fantasies run wild with Rodolphe. She makes him exchange little tokens of love and locks of hair, and demands that they get a real wedding ring as a symbol of their devotion.
All of this irritates Rodolphe, but he’s still drawn to her – he can’t believe how pretty and charming she can be. However, he stops putting forth as much effort soon enough, and their affair loses its initial quality of excitement and oomph.
By the time spring rolls around, the affair has cooled to a markedly un-steamy temperature. The two of them are like a married couple.
Monsieur Rouault sends his customary anniversary turkey to celebrate the healing of his broken leg. With it comes a letter – reading it reminds Emma of the days of her childhood in the country. Looking back, those days seem idyllic to her now. She wonders what has made her adult life so difficult.
For a brief moment, looking at her innocent young daughter, Emma actually loves little Berthe.
Rodolphe is definitely sick of Emma by now. They treat each other indifferently – Emma in an attempt to win him back and Rodolphe because he genuinely feels like their affair is over.
Rejected and dejected, Emma repents for her adulterous actions – she even goes so far as to wish she could love Charles. In addition, Homais happens to give Charles the opportunity to become a more interesting man at this fortuitous time…