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

pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before,
that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in
love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love,
as if struck by a pistol shot. The wonder was that he had not
loved her before; for he had known her since his father brought
him home from Paris, a boy of eight, after his mother died there.
The passion that awoke in him that day, when he saw her at the gate,
swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like
anything that drives headlong over all obstacles.

Monsieur Valmonde grew practical and wanted things well considered:
that is, the girl's obscure origin. Armand looked into her eyes
and did not care. He was reminded that she was nameless.

What did it matter about a name when he could give her one of the
oldest and proudest in Louisiana? He ordered the corbeille from
Paris, and contained himself with what patience he could until it
arrived; then they were married.

Madame Valmonde had not seen Desiree and the baby for four
weeks. When she reached L'Abri she shuddered at the first sight of
it, as she always did. It was a sad looking place, which for many
years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress, old Monsieur
Aubigny having married and buried his wife in France, and she
having loved her own land too well ever to leave it. The roof came
down steep and black like a cowl, reaching out beyond the wide
galleries that encircled the yellow stuccoed house. Big, solemn
oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leaved, far-reaching
branches shadowed it like a pall. Young Aubigny's rule was a
strict one, too, and under it his negroes had forgotten how to be
gay, as they had been during the old master's easy-going and
indulgent lifetime.

The young mother was recovering slowly, and lay full length,
in her soft white muslins and laces, upon a couch. The baby was
beside her, upon her arm, where he had fallen asleep, at her
breast. The yellow nurse woman sat beside a window fanning

Madame Valmonde bent her portly figure over Desiree and kissed
her, holding her an instant tenderly in her arms. Then she turned
to the child.

"This is not the baby!" she exclaimed, in startled tones.
French was the language spoken at Valmonde in those days.
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