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

Two hectic blotches came suddenly into her pale cheeks. She
looked up at the girl.

"Do you think there are any eights-and-a-half among these?"

There were any number of eights-and-a-half. In fact, there
were more of that size than any other. Here was a light-blue pair;
there were some lavender, some all black and various shades of tan
and gray. Mrs. Sommers selected a black pair and looked at them
very long and closely. She pretended to be examining their
texture, which the clerk assured her was excellent.

"A dollar and ninety-eight cents," she mused aloud. "Well,
I'll take this pair." She handed the girl a five-dollar bill and
waited for her change and for her parcel. What a very small parcel
it was! It seemed lost in the depths of her shabby old shopping-bag.

Mrs. Sommers after that did not move in the direction of the
bargain counter. She took the elevator, which carried her to an
upper floor into the region of the ladies' waiting-rooms. Here, in
a retired corner, she exchanged her cotton stockings for the new
silk ones which she had just bought. She was not going through any
acute mental process or reasoning with herself, nor was she
striving to explain to her satisfaction the motive of her action.

She was not thinking at all. She seemed for the time to be taking
a rest from that laborious and fatiguing function and to have
abandoned herself to some mechanical impulse that directed her
actions and freed her of responsibility.

How good was the touch of the raw silk to her flesh! She felt
like lying back in the cushioned chair and reveling for a while in
the luxury of it. She did for a little while. Then she replaced
her shoes, rolled the cotton stockings together and thrust them
into her bag. After doing this she crossed straight over to the
shoe department and took her seat to be fitted.

She was fastidious. The clerk could not make her out; he
could not reconcile her shoes with her stockings, and she was not
too easily pleased. She held back her skirts and turned her feet
one way and her head another way as she glanced down at the
polished, pointed-tipped boots. Her foot and ankle looked very
pretty. She could not realize that they belonged to her and were
a part of herself. She wanted an excellent and stylish fit, she
told the young fellow who served her, and she did not mind the
difference of a dollar or two more in the price so long as she got
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