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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Awakening by Kate Chopin

he felt rather than perceived, and he never voiced the feeling
without subsequent regret and ample atonement.

If one of the little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at
play, he was not apt to rush crying to his mother's arms for comfort;
he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eves
and the sand out of his mouth, and go on playing. Tots as they were,
they pulled together and stood their ground in childish battles with
doubled fists and uplifted voices, which usually prevailed against
the other mother-tots. The quadroon nurse was looked upon as a
huge encumbrance, only good to button up waists and panties
and to brush and part hair; since it seemed to be a law of society
that hair must be parted and brushed.

In short, Mrs. Pontellier was not a mother-woman. The
motherwomen seemed to prevail that summer at Grand Isle. It was easy to
know them, fluttering about with extended, protecting wings when
any harm, real or imaginary, threatened their precious brood. They
were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands,
and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as
individuals and grow wings as ministering angels.

Many of them were delicious in the role; one of them was the
embodiment of every womanly grace and charm. If her husband did
not adore her, he was a brute, deserving of death by slow torture.
Her name was Adele Ratignolle. There are no words to describe her
save the old ones that have served so often to picture the bygone
heroine of romance and the fair lady of our dreams. There was
nothing subtle or hidden about her charms; her beauty was all
there, flaming and apparent: the spun-gold hair that comb nor
confining pin could restrain; the blue eyes that were like nothing
but sapphires; two lips that pouted, that were so red one could
only think of cherries or some other delicious crimson fruit in
looking at them. She was growing a little stout, but it did not
seem to detract an iota from the grace of every step, pose,
gesture. One would not have wanted her white neck a mite less full
or her beautiful arms more slender. Never were hands more
exquisite than hers, and it was a joy to look at them when she
threaded her needle or adjusted her gold thimble to her taper
middle finger as she sewed away on the little night-drawers
or fashioned a bodice or a bib.

Madame Ratignolle was very fond of Mrs. Pontellier, and often
she took her sewing and went over to sit with her in the afternoons.
She was sitting there the afternoon of the day the box arrived from
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