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

Edna was not so consciously gratified at her husband's leaving
home as she had been over the departure of her father. As the day
approached when he was to leave her for a comparatively long stay,
she grew melting and affectionate, remembering his many acts of consideration
and his repeated expressions of an ardent attachment. She was solicitous
about his health and his welfare. She bustled around, looking after
his clothing, thinking about heavy underwear, quite as Madame Ratignolle
would have done under similar circumstances. She cried when he went away,
calling him her dear, good friend, and she was quite certain she would
grow lonely before very long and go to join him in New York.

But after all, a radiant peace settled upon her when she at
last found herself alone. Even the children were gone. Old Madame
Pontellier had come herself and carried them off to Iberville with
their quadroon. The old madame did not venture to say she was
afraid they would be neglected during Leonce's absence; she hardly
ventured to think so. She was hungry for them--even a little
fierce in her attachment. She did not want them to be wholly
"children of the pavement," she always said when begging to have
them for a space. She wished them to know the country, with its
streams, its fields, its woods, its freedom, so delicious to the
young. She wished them to taste something of the life their father
had lived and known and loved when he, too, was a little child.

When Edna was at last alone, she breathed a big, genuine sigh
of relief. A feeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came
over her. She walked all through the house, from one room to
another, as if inspecting it for the first time. She tried the
various chairs and lounges, as if she had never sat and reclined
upon them before. And she perambulated around the outside of the
house, investigating, looking to see if windows and shutters were
secure and in order. The flowers were like new acquaintances; she
approached them in a familiar spirit, and made herself at home
among them. The garden walks were damp, and Edna called to the
maid to bring out her rubber sandals. And there she stayed, and
stooped, digging around the plants, trimming, picking dead, dry
leaves. The children's little dog came out, interfering, getting
in her way. She scolded him, laughed at him, played with him.

The garden smelled so good and looked so pretty in the afternoon
sunlight. Edna plucked all the bright flowers she could find,
and went into the house with them, she and the little dog.

Even the kitchen assumed a sudden interesting character which
she had never before perceived. She went in to give directions to
the cook, to say that the butcher would have to bring much less
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