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The Awakening
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READ STUDY GUIDE: Chapters X–XIV

 

Part XI

"What are you doing out here, Edna? I thought I should find
you in bed," said her husband, when he discovered her lying there.
He had walked up with Madame Lebrun and left her at the house. His
wife did not reply.
"Are you asleep?" he asked, bending down close to look at her.
"No." Her eyes gleamed bright and intense, with no sleepy
shadows, as they looked into his.
"Do you know it is past one o'clock? Come on," and he mounted
the steps and went into their room.
"Edna!" called Mr. Pontellier from within, after a few moments
had gone by.
"Don't wait for me," she answered. He thrust his head through
the door.
"You will take cold out there," he said, irritably. "What
folly is this? Why don't you come in?"
"It isn't cold; I have my shawl."
"The mosquitoes will devour you."
"There are no mosquitoes."
She heard him moving about the room; every sound indicating
impatience and irritation. Another time she would have gone in at
his request. She would, through habit, have yielded to his desire;
not with any sense of submission or obedience to his compelling wishes, but unthinkingly,
as we walk, move, sit, stand, go through the daily treadmill of the
life which has been portioned out to us.
"Edna, dear, are you not coming in soon?" he asked again, this
time fondly, with a note of entreaty.
"No; I am going to stay out here."
"This is more than folly," he blurted out. "I can't permit
you to stay out there all night. You must come in the house
instantly."
With a writhing motion she settled herself more securely in
the hammock. She perceived that her will had blazed up, stubborn
and resistant. She could not at that moment have done other than
denied and resisted. She wondered if her husband had ever spoken
to her like that before, and if she had submitted to his command.
Of course she had; she remembered that she had. But she could not
realize why or how she should have yielded, feeling as she then
did.
"Leonce, go to bed, " she said I mean to stay out here. I
don't wish to go in, and I don't intend to. Don't speak to me like
that again; I shall not answer you."
Mr. Pontellier had prepared for bed, but he slipped on an
extra garment. He opened a bottle of wine, of which he kept a
small and select supply in a buffet of his own. He drank a glass
of the wine and went out on the gallery and offered a glass to his
wife. She did not wish any. He drew up the rocker, hoisted his
slippered feet on the rail, and proceeded to smoke a cigar. He
smoked two cigars; then he went inside and drank another glass of
wine. Mrs. Pontellier again declined to accept a glass when it was
offered to her. Mr. Pontellier once more seated himself with
elevated feet, and after a reasonable interval of time smoked some
more cigars.
Edna began to feel like one who awakens gradually out of a
dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the
realities pressing into her soul. The physical need for sleep
began to overtake her; the exuberance which had sustained and
exalted her spirit left her helpless and yielding to the conditions
which crowded her in.
The stillest hour of the night had come, the hour before dawn,
when the world seems to hold its breath. The moon hung low, and
had turned from silver to copper in the sleeping sky. The old owl
no longer hooted, and the water-oaks had ceased to moan as they
bent their heads.
Edna arose, cramped from lying so long and still in the
hammock. She tottered up the steps, clutching feebly at the post
before passing into the house.
"Are you coming in, Leonce?" she asked, turning her face
toward her husband.
"Yes, dear," he answered, with a glance following a misty puff
of smoke. "Just as soon as I have finished my cigar.
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