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The Awakening
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"What is the matter with you?" asked Arobin that evening. "I
never found you in such a happy mood." Edna was tired by that time,
and was reclining on the lounge before the fire.
"Don't you know the weather prophet has told us we shall see
the sun pretty soon?"
"Well, that ought to be reason enough," he acquiesced. "You
wouldn't give me another if I sat here all night imploring you." He
sat close to her on a low tabouret, and as he spoke his fingers
lightly touched the hair that fell a little over her forehead. She
liked the touch of his fingers through her hair, and closed her
eyes sensitively.
"One of these days," she said, "I'm going to pull myself
together for a while and think—try to determine what character of
a woman I am; for, candidly, I don't know. By all the codes which
I am acquainted with, I am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex.
But some way I can't convince myself that I am. I must think about it."
"Don't. What's the use? Why should you bother thinking about
it when I can tell you what manner of woman you are." His fingers
strayed occasionally down to her warm, smooth cheeks and firm chin,
which was growing a little full and double.
"Oh, yes! You will tell me that I am adorable; everything that
is captivating. Spare yourself the effort."
"No; I shan't tell you anything of the sort, though I
shouldn't be lying if I did."
"Do you know Mademoiselle Reisz?" she asked irrelevantly.
"The pianist? I know her by sight. I've heard her play."
"She says queer things sometimes in a bantering way that you don't notice
at the time and you find yourself thinking about afterward."
"For instance?"
"Well, for instance, when I left her to-day, she put her arms
around me and felt my shoulder blades, to see if my wings were
strong, she said. `The bird that would soar above the level plain
of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. It is a sad
spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back
to earth.' "Whither would you soar?"
"I'm not thinking of any extraordinary flights. I only half
comprehend her."
"I've heard she's partially demented," said Arobin.
"She seems to me wonderfully sane," Edna replied.
"I'm told she's extremely disagreeable and unpleasant. Why
have you introduced her at a moment when I desired to talk of you?"
"Oh! talk of me if you like," cried Edna, clasping her hands
beneath her head; "but let me think of something else while you do."
"I'm jealous of your thoughts tonight. They're making you a
little kinder than usual; but some way I feel as if they were
wandering, as if they were not here with me." She only looked at
him and smiled. His eyes were very near. He leaned upon the
lounge with an arm extended across her, while the other hand still
rested upon her hair. They continued silently to look into each
other's eyes. When he leaned forward and kissed her, she clasped
his head, holding his lips to hers.
It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had
really responded. It was a flaming torch that kindled desire.
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