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The Awakening
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The morning was full of sunlight and hope. Edna could see
before her no denial—only the promise of excessive joy. She lay
in bed awake, with bright eyes full of speculation. "He loves you,
poor fool." If she could but get that conviction firmly fixed in
her mind, what mattered about the rest? She felt she had been
childish and unwise the night before in giving herself over to
despondency. She recapitulated the motives which no doubt
explained Robert's reserve. They were not insurmountable; they
would not hold if he really loved her; they could not hold against
her own passion, which he must come to realize in time. She
pictured him going to his business that morning. She even saw how
he was dressed; how he walked down one street, and turned the
corner of another; saw him bending over his desk, talking to people
who entered the office, going to his lunch, and perhaps watching
for her on the street. He would come to her in the afternoon or
evening, sit and roll his cigarette, talk a little, and go away as
he had done the night before. But how delicious it would be to have
him there with her! She would have no regrets, nor seek to penetrate
his reserve if he still chose to wear it.
Edna ate her breakfast only half dressed. The maid brought
her a delicious printed scrawl from Raoul, expressing his love,
asking her to send him some bonbons, and telling her they had found
that morning ten tiny white pigs all lying in a row beside Lidie's
big white pig.
A letter also came from her husband, saying he hoped to be
back early in March, and then they would get ready for that journey
abroad which he had promised her so long, which he felt now fully
able to afford; he felt able to travel as people should, without
any thought of small economies—thanks to his recent speculations
in Wall Street.
Much to her surprise she received a note from Arobin, written
at midnight from the club. It was to say good morning to her, to
hope she had slept well, to assure her of his devotion, which he
trusted she in some faintest manner returned.
All these letters were pleasing to her. She answered the
children in a cheerful frame of mind, promising them bonbons, and
congratulating them upon their happy find of the little pigs.
She answered her husband with friendly evasiveness,—not with
any fixed design to mislead him, only because all sense of reality
had gone out of her life; she had abandoned herself to Fate, and
awaited the consequences with indifference.
To Arobin's note she made no reply. She put it under
Celestine's stove-lid.
Edna worked several hours with much spirit. She saw no one
but a picture dealer, who asked her if it were true that she was
going abroad to study in Paris.
She said possibly she might, and he negotiated with her for
some Parisian studies to reach him in time for the holiday trade in
Robert did not come that day. She was keenly disappointed.
He did not come the following day, nor the next. Each morning
she awoke with hope, and each night she was a prey to despondency.
She was tempted to seek him out. But far from yielding to the impulse,
she avoided any occasion which might throw her in his way. She did not
go to Mademoiselle Reisz's nor pass by Madame Lebrun's, as she might
have done if he had still been in Mexico.
When Arobin, one night, urged her to drive with him, she
went—out to the lake, on the Shell Road. His horses were full of
mettle, and even a little unmanageable. She liked the rapid gait
at which they spun along, and the quick, sharp sound of the horses'
hoofs on the hard road. They did not stop anywhere to eat or to
drink. Arobin was not needlessly imprudent. But they ate and they
drank when they regained Edna's little dining-room—which was
comparatively early in the evening.
It was late when he left her. It was getting to be more than
a passing whim with Arobin to see her and be with her. He had
detected the latent sensuality, which unfolded under his delicate
sense of her nature's requirements like a torpid, torrid, sensitive
There was no despondency when she fell asleep that night; nor
was there hope when she awoke in the morning.
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