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overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the
soul's slavery for the rest of her days. But she knew a way to
elude them. She was not thinking of these things when she walked
down to the beach.
The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with
the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive,
never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul
to wander in abysses of solitude. All along the white beach,
up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird
with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling,
fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.
Edna had found her old bathing suit still hanging, faded,
upon its accustomed peg.
She put it on, leaving her clothing in the bath-house. But
when she was there beside the sea, absolutely alone, she cast the
unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first time in
her life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun,
the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her.
How strange and awful it seemed to stand naked under the sky!
how delicious! She felt like some new-born creature, opening its
eyes in a familiar world that it had never known.
The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled
like serpents about her ankles. She walked out. The water was
chill, but she walked on. The water was deep, but she lifted her
white body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke. The touch
of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close
She went on and on. She remembered the night she swam far
out, and recalled the terror that seized her at the fear of being
unable to regain the shore. She did not look back now, but went on
and on, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traversed
when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end.
Her arms and legs were growing tired.
She thought of Leonce and the children. They were a part of
her life. But they need not have thought that they could possess
her, body and soul. How Mademoiselle Reisz would have laughed,
perhaps sneered, if she knew! "And you call yourself an artist!