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CHAPTERS 2 - 4
Emma reaches the inn late after her rendezvous and misses the Hirondelle that had been specially sent for her. She hires a trap and overtakes the Hirondelle in a neighboring town en route to Yonville. Back home, Felicite urges her to see Homais, at whose place Emma witnesses a curious spectacle. Homais scolds Justin for using a pan that was stored next to the bottle of arsenic in his professional supplies cupboard. In the heat of anger, Homais forgets all about a condolence speech he had prepared for Emma. He blurts out the news that her father-in-law died two days ago.
At home, Emma is indifferent to Charles' bereavement. She looks upon him as a spineless individual and yearns to get rid of him. Charles' mother arrives the next day, and mother and son grieve together. Lheureux visits Emma during this period and urges her to attain a power of attorney from Charles in order to expedite payments. After her mother-in-law leaves, Emma makes inquiries about the legal implications of the deed, and Charles urges her to go to Rouen to consult with Leon before having Monsieur Guillaumin attend to the documents. As a result, Emma is able to spend three exquisite days with Leon.
They stay at the Hotel de Boulogne. During one of their boat rides, the boatman mentions the name of a person who had been part of a group that he had ferried some time back, saying, "Adolphe. . .Dodolphe, I think it was." Emma thinks about Rodolphe and shivers. At the end of her stay, Emma and Leon part with the agreement that Leon will send her letters through Madame Rollet, the nurse. He wonders at Emma's shrewdness as she instructs him to use a double envelope for his letters. He is also curious about her need for the power of attorney.
After Emma' visit, Leon totally immerses himself in the relationship. He ignores his official duties and his friends. He writes to Emma and waits for her letters. They meet one night, and Emma promises to devise a way that they might meet more often. She cleverly gets Charles' permission for weekly music lessons at Rouen. Meanwhile, Lheureux becomes indispensable to Emma, as does Madame Rollet.
The seemingly innocuous episode in which Homais reprimands Justin has great significance. It is through Homais' ramblings here that Emma becomes aware of the arsenic in his possession and where it is kept. The reader realizes that this entire scene would have not occurred if it had not been for Homais' compulsive need to be overly dramatic. Homais, therefore, unwittingly becomes an ally in Emma's later suicide.
After again taking up with Leon, Emma keeps her distance from Charles, much as she did during the affair with Rodolphe. Now, despite his grief over the loss of his father, she fails to sympathize with her husband. She remembers the Hippolyte incident and finds more reasons to dislike Charles. She also depends on the crooked Lheureux and accepts his suggestion that she attain power of attorney from her husband. Under the pretext of the power of attorney and at Charles' suggestion, she spends three romantic days with Leon in Rouen. The only thing that interrupts her joy is when the boatman describes a passenger who seems to have been Rodolphe. Emma shivers at the thought of him and her past indiscretion.
Emma's influence over Leon is clearly harmful. After their "honeymoon," Leon is thoroughly enmeshed in the affair, forgetting his friends and job. The entanglement will later harm Leon's job prospects. He, however, seems powerless to do anything about his attraction at this point even though he observes that Emma is a "wonderfully astute intriguer." Flaubert does, in deed, depict Emma as growing more and more calculating in order to have her way. Emma's schemes to meet Leon regularly also indicate the extent of her deceptiveness. She is clearly a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. This section of the novel is particularly unsympathetic in Flaubert's portrayal of Emma as he portrays the total deterioration of her moral character. Lheureux's villainy also increases in this section.