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

something pleasanter to talk about, out under the oaks, or back in
the shadow of the oleanders.

But they were right! The sound of a cannon, shot at Sumter,
has rolled across the Southern States, and its echo is heard along
the whole stretch of Cote Joyeuse.

Yet Pelagie does not believe it. Not till La Ricaneuse stands
before her with bare, black arms akimbo, uttering a volley of vile
abuse and of brazen impudence. Pelagie wants to kill her. But yet
she will not believe. Not till Felix comes to her in the chamber
above the dining hall--there where that trumpet vine hangs--comes
to say good-by to her. The hurt which the big brass buttons of his
new gray uniform pressed into the tender flesh of her bosom has
never left it. She sits upon the sofa, and he beside her, both
speechless with pain. That room would not have been altered. Even
the sofa would have been there in the same spot, and Ma'ame Pelagie
had meant all along, for thirty years, all along, to lie there upon
it some day when the time came to die.

But there is no time to weep, with the enemy at the door. The
door has been no barrier. They are clattering through the halls
now, drinking the wines, shattering the crystal and glass, slashing
the portraits.

One of them stands before her and tells her to leave the
house. She slaps his face. How the stigma stands out red as blood
upon his blanched cheek!

Now there is a roar of fire and the flames are bearing down
upon her motionless figure. She wants to show them how a daughter
of Louisiana can perish before her conquerors. But little Pauline
clings to her knees in an agony of terror. Little Pauline must be

"Il ne faut pas faire mal a Pauline." Again she is saying it
aloud--"faire mal a Pauline."

The night was nearly spent; Ma'ame Pelagie had glided from the
bench upon which she had rested, and for hours lay prone upon the
stone flagging, motionless. When she dragged herself to her feet
it was to walk like one in a dream. About the great, solemn
pillars, one after the other, she reached her arms, and pressed her
cheek and her lips upon the senseless brick.
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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