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some pretext served to take him away from her, just as one misses
the sun on a cloudy day without having thought much about the sun
when it was shining.

The people walked in little groups toward the beach. They
talked and laughed; some of them sang. There was a band playing
down at Klein's hotel, and the strains reached them faintly,
tempered by the distance. There were strange, rare odors abroad--
a tangle of the sea smell and of weeds and damp, new-plowed earth,
mingled with the heavy perfume of a field of white blossoms
somewhere near. But the night sat lightly upon the sea and the
land. There was no weight of darkness; there were no shadows. The
white light of the moon had fallen upon the world like the mystery
and the softness of sleep.

Most of them walked into the water as though into a native element.
The sea was quiet now, and swelled lazily in broad billows that melted
into one another and did not break except upon the beach in little
foamy crests that coiled back like slow, white serpents.

Edna had attempted all summer to learn to swim. She had
received instructions from both the men and women; in some
instances from the children. Robert had pursued a system of
lessons almost daily; and he was nearly at the point of
discouragement in realizing the futility of his efforts. A certain
ungovernable dread hung about her when in the water, unless there
was a hand near by that might reach out and reassure her.

But that night she was like the little tottering, stumbling,
clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for
the first time alone, boldly and with over-confidence. She could
have shouted for joy. She did shout for joy, as with a sweeping
stroke or two she lifted her body to the surface of the water.

A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of
significant import had been given her to control the working of her
body and her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating
her strength. She wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum

Her unlooked-for achievement was the subject of wonder,
applause, and admiration. Each one congratulated himself that his
special teachings had accomplished this desired end.

"How easy it is!" she thought. "It is nothing," she said
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Awakening by Kate Chopin

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