Flaubert lua cantităţi mici de arsenic în perioada în care scria finalul de la "Madame Bovary", pentru a putea descrie cât mai veridic moartea femeii.
"She lay down full length on her bed. A bitter taste that she felt in her mouth awakened her. She saw Charles, and again closed her eyes.
She was studying herself curiously, to see if she were not suffering. But no! nothing as yet. She heard the ticking of the clock, the crackling of the fire, and Charles breathing as he stood upright by her bed.
"Ah! it is but a little thing, death!" she thought. "I shall fall asleep and all will be over."
She drank a mouthful of water and turned to the wall. The frightful taste of ink continued.
"I am thirsty; oh! so thirsty," she sighed.
"What is it?" said Charles, who was handing her a glass.
"It is nothing! Open the window; I am choking."
She was seized with a sickness so sudden that she had hardly time to draw out her handkerchief from under the pillow.
"Take it away," she said quickly; "throw it away."
He spoke to her; she did not answer. She lay motionless, afraid that the slightest movement might make her vomit. But she felt an icy cold creeping from her feet to her heart.
"Ah! it is beginning," she murmured.
"What did you say?"
She turned her head from side to side with a gentle movement full of agony, while constantly opening her mouth as if something very heavy were weighing upon her tongue. At eight o'clock the vomiting began again.
Charles noticed that at the bottom of the basin there was a sort of white sediment sticking to the sides of the porcelain.
"This is extraordinary—very singular," he repeated.
But she said in a firm voice, "No, you are mistaken."
Then gently, and almost as caressing her, he passed his hand over her stomach. She uttered a sharp cry. He fell back terror-stricken.
Then she began to groan, faintly at first. Her shoulders were shaken by a strong shuddering, and she was growing paler than the sheets in which her clenched fingers buried themselves. Her unequal pulse was now almost imperceptible.
Drops of sweat oozed from her bluish face, that seemed as if rigid in the exhalations of a metallic vapour. Her teeth chattered, her dilated eyes looked vaguely about her, and to all questions she replied only with a shake of the head; she even smiled once or twice. Gradually, her moaning grew louder; a hollow shriek burst from her; she pretended she was better and that she would get up presently. But she was seized with convulsions and cried out—
"Ah! my God! It is horrible!"