Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
The next morning Edna feels joyous and certain of Robert's love and wonders why she was so depressed the night before. She imagines his arrival at her house to spend the evening with her. She would have no regrets.
She eats her breakfast and reads some letters from her family. A letter from her older son talks about some new baby pigs, while her husband's letter announces that his successful speculations on Wall Street will allow them to take that long-promised trip abroad. There is also a note from Alcée saying that he is devotedly hers. She answers her child with a promise of bonbons, answers her husband evasively (she has abandoned herself to the playing-out of Fate), and discards Alcée's letter. She works for hours, and a picture dealer comes to ask her if she will send some Parisian sketches when she is abroad, as he can sell them for the holiday market.
Robert does not come. Days go by, and she avoids places he may be. Alcée eventually entices her out for a drive. They go back to her house for an early dinner, and afterwards Alcée unfolds her sensuality with "his delicate sense of her nature's requirements." She feels no despondency when she goes to sleep, and no hope when she wakes up.
There is a garden out in the suburbs, where a mulatto named Catiche cooks for people and makes excellent coffee. One can rest there away from the noise and bustle of the city. Very few people know about it, but Edna goes there occasionally to have dinner. She is not astonished when, one day, Robert walks in. But he is surprised and almost embarrassed to see her. She says she "almost lives here," and then she urges him to dine with her. She had intended to be cool when she saw Robert again, but her intentions have left her.
She asks him why he has avoided her. He asks her why she is so personal and also why she pushes him to "idiotic subterfuges." She tells him that he is selfish, and that she feels his neglect and knows that he considers her unwomanly for saying so. He says that she is cruel, forcing him to show his wounds for no purpose since she cannot heal them. They talk of the café and the good coffee, and then Edna wants to know who gave Robert the cigar he is going to smoke. She chides herself, because she had meant to not make him uncomfortable with personal comments. They talk about the cat which visits their table.
Robert goes home with Edna. This time she does not invite him to stay but lets him do it of his own accord. After she goes to take off her hat, she returns to the darkened room where he is sitting, and she kisses him. He kisses her back. Now she knows, he says, what he has been fighting against. He explains that because she belongs to Léonce Pontellier, he never felt he could pursue their love. It does not matter, though, because he loves her anyway. He tried to forget her in Mexico, but he still had wild dreams of Edna becoming his wife. He had dreams of men who set their wives free. He had vague intentions. She reminds him that he did not write or come near her. He admits that he has been a cur.
She takes his face in her hands and tells him that he is being silly. She no longer "belongs" to Léonce Pontellier to dispose of as he likes: she is her own person. If Léonce were to "give her to Robert, she would laugh at them both. Robert's face grows white.
Suddenly, Edna is called away to the Ratignolle household because Adèle is in labor, and Edna had promised to go and help her. She tries to make Robert promise to stay and wait for her, and he begs her not to go. She tells him that she loves him, that he woke her out of a "life-long, stupid dream," and that now she wants for them to be everything to each other. He wants only to keep her.
Monsieur Ratignolle is happy to see Edna because Adèle has been inconsolable. She goes upstairs to Adèle, who sits with the nurse and complains that Doctor Mandelet has not yet arrived. Adèle is in labor, and although the nurse is used to such things, Adèle fusses and complains until Doctor Mandelet arrives. He ignores her complaints. He is happy to see Edna and wants to visit with her, but Adèle insists that Edna is there for her, to help her to forget her pain as much as possible.