That night, Hortense makes Gilbert close his eyes while she undresses, and banishes him to sleep in the armchair while she takes the bed. When she finally lies down, she can’t sleep because of the mice that are loudly scurrying about in the ceiling and walls. Hortense demands that Gilbert get rid of the rats, but he tells her wearily to go to sleep, and that she’ll feel better about it in the morning.
Although Hortense and Gilbert have finally achieved a degree of informality with each other, it’s clear that their relationship is uneasy and far from romantic. While this is comical at face value, it also underlines Hortense’s strong sense of independence, an unusual characteristic for a woman of her time.