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

There was the first of them, awaiting her upon the very
portal; a robust old white-haired man, chiding her for returning
home so late. There are guests to be entertained. Does she not
know it? Guests from the city and from the near plantations. Yes,
she knows it is late. She had been abroad with Felix, and they did
not notice how the time was speeding. Felix is there; he will
explain it all. He is there beside her, but she does not want to
hear what he will tell her father.

Ma'ame Pelagie had sunk upon the bench where she and her
sister so often came to sit. Turning, she gazed in through the
gaping chasm of the window at her side. The interior of the ruin
is ablaze. Not with the moonlight, for that is faint beside the
other one--the sparkle from the crystal candelabra, which negroes,
moving noiselessly and respectfully about, are lighting, one after
the other. How the gleam of them reflects and glances from the
polished marble pillars!

The room holds a number of guests. There is old Monsieur
Lucien Santien, leaning against one of the pillars, and laughing at
something which Monsieur Lafirme is telling him, till his fat
shoulders shake. His son Jules is with him--Jules, who wants to
marry her. She laughs. She wonders if Felix has told her father
yet. There is young Jerome Lafirme playing at checkers upon the
sofa with Leandre. Little Pauline stands annoying them and
disturbing the game. Leandre reproves her. She begins to cry, and
old black Clementine, her nurse, who is not far off, limps across
the room to pick her up and carry her away. How sensitive the
little one is! But she trots about and takes care of herself
better than she did a year or two ago, when she fell upon
the stone hall floor and raised a great "bo-bo" on her forehead.
Pelagie was hurt and angry enough about it; and she ordered rugs
and buffalo robes to be brought and laid thick upon the tiles, till
the little one's steps were surer.

"Il ne faut pas faire mal a Pauline." She was saying it aloud
--"faire mal a Pauline."

But she gazes beyond the salon, back into the big dining hall,
where the white crepe myrtle grows. Ha! how low that bat has
circled. It has struck Ma'ame Pelagie full on the breast. She
does not know it. She is beyond there in the dining hall, where
her father sits with a group of friends over their wine. As usual
they are talking politics. How tiresome! She has heard them say
"la guerre" oftener than once. La guerre. Bah! She and Felix have
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