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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Awakening by Kate Chopin


of gloom by my father that chills me yet to think of."

"And have you been running away from prayers ever since, ma
chere?" asked Madame Ratignolle, amused.

"No! oh, no!" Edna hastened to say. "I was a little
unthinking child in those days, just following a misleading impulse
without question. On the contrary, during one period of my life
religion took a firm hold upon me; after I was twelve and
until-until--why, I suppose until now, though I never thought much about
it--just driven along by habit. But do you know," she broke off,
turning her quick eyes upon Madame Ratignolle and leaning forward
a little so as to bring her face quite close to that of her companion,
"sometimes I feel this summer as if I were walking through the green
meadow again; idly, aimlessly, unthinking and unguided."

Madame Ratignolle laid her hand over that of Mrs. Pontellier,
which was near her. Seeing that the hand was not withdrawn, she
clasped it firmly and warmly. She even stroked it a little, fondly,
with the other hand, murmuring in an undertone, "Pauvre cherie."

The action was at first a little confusing to Edna, but she
soon lent herself readily to the Creole's gentle caress. She was
not accustomed to an outward and spoken expression of affection,
either in herself or in others. She and her younger sister, Janet,
had quarreled a good deal through force of unfortunate habit. Her
older sister, Margaret, was matronly and dignified, probably from
having assumed matronly and housewifely responsibilities too early
in life, their mother having died when they were quite young,
Margaret was not effusive; she was practical. Edna had had an
occasional girl friend, but whether accidentally or not, they
seemed to have been all of one type--the self-contained. She never
realized that the reserve of her own character had much, perhaps
everything, to do with this. Her most intimate friend at school
had been one of rather exceptional intellectual gifts, who wrote
fine-sounding essays, which Edna admired and strove to imitate; and
with her she talked and glowed over the English classics, and
sometimes held religious and political controversies.

Edna often wondered at one propensity which sometimes had
inwardly disturbed her without causing any outward show or
manifestation on her part. At a very early age--perhaps it was
when she traversed the ocean of waving grass--she remembered that
she had been passionately enamored of a dignified and sad-eyed
cavalry officer who visited her father in Kentucky. She could not
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