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

"Immense, I tell you," persisted Madame Ratignolle, surveying
the sketches one by one, at close range, then holding them at arm's
length, narrowing her eyes, and dropping her head on one side.
"Surely, this Bavarian peasant is worthy of framing; and this
basket of apples! never have I seen anything more lifelike. One
might almost be tempted to reach out a hand and take one."

Edna could not control a feeling which bordered upon
complacency at her friend's praise, even realizing, as she did, its
true worth. She retained a few of the sketches, and gave all the
rest to Madame Ratignolle, who appreciated the gift far beyond its
value and proudly exhibited the pictures to her husband when he
came up from the store a little later for his midday dinner.

Mr. Ratignolle was one of those men who are called the salt of
the earth. His cheerfulness was unbounded, and it was matched by
his goodness of heart, his broad charity, and common sense. He and
his wife spoke English with an accent which was only discernible
through its un-English emphasis and a certain carefulness and
deliberation. Edna's husband spoke English with no accent
whatever. The Ratignolles understood each other perfectly. If
ever the fusion of two human beings into one has been accomplished
on this sphere it was surely in their union.

As Edna seated herself at table with them she thought, "Better
a dinner of herbs," though it did not take her long to discover
that it was no dinner of herbs, but a delicious repast,
simple, choice, and in every way satisfying.

Monsieur Ratignolle was delighted to see her, though he found
her looking not so well as at Grand Isle, and he advised a tonic.
He talked a good deal on various topics, a little politics, some
city news and neighborhood gossip. He spoke with an animation and
earnestness that gave an exaggerated importance to every syllable
he uttered. His wife was keenly interested in everything he said,
laying down her fork the better to listen, chiming in, taking the
words out of his mouth.

Edna felt depressed rather than soothed after leaving them.
The little glimpse of domestic harmony which had been offered her,
gave her no regret, no longing. It was not a condition of life
which fitted her, and she could see in it but an appalling and
hopeless ennui. She was moved by a kind of commiseration for
Madame Ratignolle,--a pity for that colorless existence which never
uplifted its possessor beyond the region of blind contentment, in
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