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leave his presence when he was there, nor remove her eyes from his face,
which was something like Napoleon's, with a lock of black hair failing
across the forehead. But the cavalry officer melted imperceptibly out
of her existence.
At another time her affections were deeply engaged by a young
gentleman who visited a lady on a neighboring plantation. It was
after they went to Mississippi to live. The young man was engaged
to be married to the young lady, and they sometimes called upon
Margaret, driving over of afternoons in a buggy. Edna was a little
miss, just merging into her teens; and the realization that she
herself was nothing, nothing, nothing to the engaged young man was
a bitter affliction to her. But he, too, went the way of dreams.
She was a grown young woman when she was overtaken by what she
supposed to be the climax of her fate. It was when the face and
figure of a great tragedian began to haunt her imagination and stir
her senses. The persistence of the infatuation lent it an aspect
of genuineness. The hopelessness of it colored it with the lofty
tones of a great passion.
The picture of the tragedian stood enframed upon her desk.
Any one may possess the portrait of a tragedian without exciting
suspicion or comment. (This was a sinister reflection which she
cherished.) In the presence of others she expressed admiration for
his exalted gifts, as she handed the photograph around and dwelt
upon the fidelity of the likeness. When alone she sometimes picked
it up and kissed the cold glass passionately.
Her marriage to Leonce Pontellier was purely an accident, in
this respect resembling many other marriages which masquerade as
the decrees of Fate. It was in the midst of her secret great
passion that she met him. He fell in love, as men are in the habit
of doing, and pressed his suit with an earnestness and an ardor which
left nothing to be desired. He pleased her; his absolute devotion
flattered her. She fancied there was a sympathy of thought and taste
between them, in which fancy she was mistaken. Add to this the violent
opposition of her father and her sister Margaret to her marriage with
a Catholic, and we need seek no further for the motives which led her
to accept Monsieur Pontellier. for her husband.
The acme of bliss, which would have been a marriage with the
tragedian, was not for her in this world. As the devoted wife of
a man who worshiped her, she felt she would take her place with a
certain dignity in the world of reality, closing the portals