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

come to take her for a morning drive.

Octavie wore a plain black dress, severe in its simplicity. A
narrow belt held it at the waist and the sleeves were gathered into
close fitting wristbands. She had discarded her hoopskirt and
appeared not unlike a nun. Beneath the folds of her bodice nestled
the old locket. She never displayed it now. It had returned to
her sanctified in her eyes; made precious as material things
sometimes are by being forever identified with a significant moment
of one's existence.

A hundred times she had read over the letter with which the
locket had come back to her. No later than that morning she had
again pored over it. As she sat beside the window, smoothing the
letter out upon her knee, heavy and spiced odors stole in to her
with the songs of birds and the humming of insects in the air.

She was so young and the world was so beautiful that there
came over her a sense of unreality as she read again and again the
priest's letter. He told of that autumn day drawing to its close,
with the gold and the red fading out of the west, and the night
gathering its shadows to cover the faces of the dead. Oh! She
could not believe that one of those dead was her own! with visage
uplifted to the gray sky in an agony of supplication. A spasm of
resistance and rebellion seized and swept over her. Why was the
spring here with its flowers and its seductive breath if he was
dead! Why was she here! What further had she to do with life and
the living!

Octavie had experienced many such moments of despair, but a
blessed resignation had never failed to follow, and it fell then
upon her like a mantle and enveloped her.

"I shall grow old and quiet and sad like poor Aunt Tavie," she
murmured to herself as she folded the letter and replaced it in the
secretary. Already she gave herself a little demure air like her
Aunt Tavie. She walked with a slow glide in unconscious imitation
of Mademoiselle Tavie whom some youthful affliction had robbed of
earthly compensation while leaving her in possession of youth's

As she sat in the old cabriolet beside the father of her dead
lover, again there came to Octavie the terrible sense of loss which
had assailed her so often before. The soul of her youth clamored
for its rights; for a share in the world's glory and exultation.
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