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The Awakening
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READ STUDY GUIDE: Chapters X–XIV

 

Part XIV

The youngest boy, Etienne, had been very naughty, Madame
Ratignolle said, as she delivered him into the hands of his mother.
He had been unwilling to go to bed and had made a scene; whereupon
she had taken charge of him and pacified him as well as she could.
Raoul had been in bed and asleep for two hours.
The youngster was in his long white nightgown, that kept
tripping him up as Madame Ratignolle led him along by the hand.
With the other chubby fist he rubbed his eyes, which were heavy
with sleep and ill humor. Edna took him in her arms, and seating
herself in the rocker, began to coddle and caress him, calling him
all manner of tender names, soothing him to sleep.
It was not more than nine o'clock. No one had yet gone to bed
but the children.
Leonce had been very uneasy at first, Madame Ratignolle said,
and had wanted to start at once for the Cheniere. But
Monsieur Farival had assured him that his wife was only overcome
with sleep and fatigue, that Tonie would bring her safely back
later in the day; and he had thus been dissuaded from crossing the
bay. He had gone over to Klein's, looking up some cotton broker
whom he wished to see in regard to securities, exchanges, stocks,
bonds, or something of the sort, Madame Ratignolle did not remember
what. He said he would not remain away late. She herself was
suffering from heat and oppression, she said. She carried a bottle
of salts and a large fan. She would not consent to remain with
Edna, for Monsieur Ratignolle was alone, and he detested above all
things to be left alone.
When Etienne had fallen asleep Edna bore him into the back
room, and Robert went and lifted the mosquito bar that she might
lay the child comfortably in his bed. The quadroon had vanished.
When they emerged from the cottage Robert bade Edna good-night.
"Do you know we have been together the whole livelong day,
Robert—since early this morning?" she said at parting.
"All but the hundred years when you were sleeping.
Goodnight."
He pressed her hand and went away in the direction of the
beach. He did not join any of the others, but walked alone toward
the Gulf.
Edna stayed outside, awaiting her husband's return. She had
no desire to sleep or to retire; nor did she feel like going over
to sit with the Ratignolles, or to join Madame Lebrun and a group
whose animated voices reached her as they sat in conversation
before the house. She let her mind wander back over her stay at
Grand Isle; and she tried to discover wherein this summer had been
different from any and every other summer of her life. She could
only realize that she herself—her present self—was in some way
different from the other self. That she was seeing with different
eyes and making the acquaintance of new conditions in herself that
colored and changed her environment, she did not yet suspect.
She wondered why Robert had gone away and left her. It did
not occur to her to think he might have grown tired of being with
her the livelong day. She was not tired, and she felt that he was
not. She regretted that he had gone. It was so much more natural
to have him stay when he was not absolutely required to leave her.
As Edna waited for her husband she sang low a little song that
Robert had sung as they crossed the bay. It began with "Ah!
Si tu savais," and every verse ended with "si tu savais."
Robert's voice was not pretentious. It was musical and true.
The voice, the notes, the whole refrain haunted her memory.
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