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

She leaned back and drew her veil a little closer about her face.
It was an old black veil of her Aunt Tavie's. A whiff of dust from
the road had blown in and she wiped her cheeks and her eyes with
her soft, white handkerchief, a homemade handkerchief, fabricated
from one of her old fine muslin petticoats.

"Will you do me the favor, Octavie," requested the judge in
the courteous tone which he never abandoned, "to remove that veil
which you wear. It seems out of harmony, someway, with the beauty
and promise of the day."

The young girl obediently yielded to her old companion's wish
and unpinning the cumbersome, sombre drapery from her bonnet,
folded it neatly and laid it upon the seat in front of her.

"Ah! that is better; far better!" he said in a tone expressing
unbounded relief. "Never put it on again, dear." Octavie felt a
little hurt; as if he wished to debar her from share and parcel in
the burden of affliction which had been placed upon all of them.
Again she drew forth the old muslin handkerchief.

They had left the big road and turned into a level plain which
had formerly been an old meadow. There were clumps of thorn trees
here and there, gorgeous in their spring radiance. Some cattle
were grazing off in the distance in spots where the grass was tall
and luscious. At the far end of the meadow was the towering lilac
hedge, skirting the lane that led to Judge Pillier's house, and the
scent of its heavy blossoms met them like a soft and tender embrace
of welcome.

As they neared the house the old gentleman placed an arm
around the girl's shoulders and turning her face up to him he said:
"Do you not think that on a day like this, miracles might happen?
When the whole earth is vibrant with life, does it not seem to you,
Octavie, that heaven might for once relent and give us back our
dead?" He spoke very low, advisedly, and impressively. In his
voice was an old quaver which was not habitual and there was
agitation in every line of his visage. She gazed at him with eyes
that were full of supplication and a certain terror of joy.

They had been driving through the lane with the towering hedge
on one side and the open meadow on the other. The horses had
somewhat quickened their lazy pace. As they turned into the avenue
leading to the house, a whole choir of feathered songsters fluted
a sudden torrent of melodious greeting from their leafy hiding
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