Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary

One night Charles receives a note saying that Monsieur Rouault, a farmer who lives about twenty miles away, has broken his leg. Early the next morning, Charles rides out to Les Bertaux, Monsieur Rouault’s farm. There he meets Mademoiselle Emma Rouault, the farmer's daughter.

Mademoiselle Rouault seems quite charming to Charles. Her eyes look brown or black in different lights. After he finishes setting her father’s broken leg, Charles eats dinner with her. She complains about how much she hates living in the country, and as he listens, he privately admires her beauty.

When Charles is getting ready to leave, he realizes that he has misplaced his riding crop. He and Mademoiselle Rouault eventually find it on the floor. They both attempt to pick it up at the same time, and he accidentally touches her back. This causes her to blush in a way he finds very sweet.

Charles has promised to return to Les Bertaux in three days to check the leg—but he returns sooner. He visits the farm often over the next couple of months, even though Monsieur Rouault is healing well and requires little medical attention. Charles loves the pretty farm, and he is only dimly aware that he feels this way because of the farmer’s pretty daughter.

Heloise, Charles’s wife, notices that he is always cheerful on the days he visits Les Bertaux. She soon deduces that he is in love. She flings accusations at him and frequently mocks Mademoiselle Rouault in his hearing. After Monsieur Rouault’s leg heals, Heloise makes Charles promise not to go to Les Bertaux anymore. Charles agrees, but he misses Mademoiselle Rouault. Privately, he decides to allow himself to love her from afar.

In the spring after his marriage, Charles learns that Heloise is not nearly as wealthy as she has always claimed. She has lied about her money in order to attract a husband. When Charles’s parents hear this news, they come to Tostes to confront her. In the terrible scene that ensues, Charles’s father smashes a chair and accuses his own wife of pushing their son into a pointless marriage with an "ancient nag." Heloise cries and demands that Charles defend her; he obeys.

About a week after this fight, Heloise begins coughing up blood. She is ill for just one day, and then she suddenly falls dead. Charles holds a funeral quickly. He returns to his empty house, where he looks at an old dress of hers and feels sad. The woman who loved him is dead.