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forever behind her upon the realm of romance and dreams.
But it was not long before the tragedian had gone to join the
cavalry officer and the engaged young man and a few others; and
Edna found herself face to face with the realities. She grew fond
of her husband, realizing with some unaccountable satisfaction that
no trace of passion or excessive and fictitious warmth colored her
affection, thereby threatening its dissolution.
She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She
would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would
sometimes forget them. The year before they had spent part of the
summer with their grandmother Pontellier in Iberville. Feeling
secure regarding their happiness and welfare, she did not miss them
except with an occasional intense longing. Their absence was a
sort of relief, though she did not admit this, even to herself. It
seemed to free her of a responsibility which she had blindly
assumed and for which Fate had not fitted her.
Edna did not reveal so much as all this to Madame Ratignolle
that summer day when they sat with faces turned to the sea. But a
good part of it escaped her. She had put her head down on Madame
Ratignolle's shoulder. She was flushed and felt intoxicated with
the sound of her own voice and the unaccustomed taste of candor.
It muddled her like wine, or like a first breath of freedom.
There was the sound of approaching voices. It was Robert,
surrounded by a troop of children, searching for them. The two
little Pontelliers were with him, and he carried Madame
Ratignolle's little girl in his arms. There were other children
beside, and two nurse-maids followed, looking disagreeable and
The women at once rose and began to shake out their draperies
and relax their muscles. Mrs. Pontellier threw the cushions and
rug into the bath-house. The children all scampered off to the
awning, and they stood there in a line, gazing upon the intruding
lovers, still exchanging their vows and sighs. The lovers got up,
with only a silent protest, and walked slowly away somewhere else.
The children possessed themselves of the tent, and Mrs.
Pontellier went over to join them.
Madame Ratignolle begged Robert to accompany her to the house;
she complained of cramp in her limbs and stiffness of the joints.