Edna and her father had a warm, and almost violent dispute upon the subject o_er refusal to attend her sister's wedding. Mr. Pontellier declined t_nterfere, to interpose either his influence or his authority. He wa_ollowing Doctor Mandelet's advice, and letting her do as she liked. Th_olonel reproached his daughter for her lack of filial kindness and respect,
her want of sisterly affection and womanly consideration. His arguments wer_abored and unconvincing. He doubted if Janet would accept an_xcuse—forgetting that Edna had offered none. He doubted if Janet would eve_peak to her again, and he was sure Margaret would not.
Edna was glad to be rid of her father when he finally took himself off wit_is wedding garments and his bridal gifts, with his padded shoulders, hi_ible reading, his "toddies" and ponderous oaths.
Mr. Pontellier followed him closely. He meant to stop at the wedding on hi_ay to New York and endeavor by every means which money and love could devis_o atone somewhat for Edna's incomprehensible action.
"You are too lenient, too lenient by far, Leonce," asserted the Colonel.
"Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; th_nly way to manage a wife. Take my word for it."
The Colonel was perhaps unaware that he had coerced his own wife into he_rave. Mr. Pontellier had a vague suspicion of it which he thought it needles_o mention at that late day.
Edna was not so consciously gratified at her husband's leaving home as she ha_een over the departure of her father. As the day approached when he was t_eave her for a comparatively long stay, she grew melting and affectionate,
remembering his many acts of consideration and his repeated expressions of a_rdent attachment. She was solicitous about his health and his welfare. Sh_ustled around, looking after his clothing, thinking about heavy underwear,
quite as Madame Ratignolle would have done under similar circumstances. Sh_ried when he went away, calling him her dear, good friend, and she was quit_ertain she would grow lonely before very long and go to join him in New York.
But after all, a radiant peace settled upon her when she at last found hersel_lone. Even the children were gone. Old Madame Pontellier had come herself an_arried them off to Iberville with their quadroon. The old madame did no_enture to say she was afraid they would be neglected during Leonce's absence;
she hardly ventured to think so. She was hungry for them—even a little fierc_n her attachment. She did not want them to be wholly "children of th_avement," she always said when begging to have them for a space. She wishe_hem to know the country, with its streams, its fields, its woods, it_reedom, so delicious to the young. She wished them to taste something of th_ife their father had lived and known and loved when he, too, was a littl_hild.
When Edna was at last alone, she breathed a big, genuine sigh of relief. _eeling that was unfamiliar but very delicious came over her. She walked al_hrough the house, from one room to another, as if inspecting it for the firs_ime. She tried the various chairs and lounges, as if she had never sat an_eclined upon them before. And she perambulated around the outside of th_ouse, investigating, looking to see if windows and shutters were secure an_n order. The flowers were like new acquaintances; she approached them in _amiliar spirit, and made herself at home among them. The garden walks wer_amp, and Edna called to the maid to bring out her rubber sandals. And ther_he stayed, and stooped, digging around the plants, trimming, picking dead,
dry leaves. The children's little dog came out, interfering, getting in he_ay. She scolded him, laughed at him, played with him. The garden smelled s_ood and looked so pretty in the afternoon sunlight. Edna plucked all th_right flowers she could find, and went into the house with them, she and th_ittle dog.
Even the kitchen assumed a sudden interesting character which she had neve_efore perceived. She went in to give directions to the cook, to say that th_utcher would have to bring much less meat, that they would require only hal_heir usual quantity of bread, of milk and groceries. She told the cook tha_he herself would be greatly occupied during Mr. Pontellier's absence, and sh_egged her to take all thought and responsibility of the larder upon her ow_houlders.
That night Edna dined alone. The candelabra, with a few candies in the cente_f the table, gave all the light she needed. Outside the circle of light i_hich she sat, the large dining-room looked solemn and shadowy. The cook,
placed upon her mettle, served a delicious repast—a luscious tenderloi_roiled a point. The wine tasted good; the marron glace seemed to be just wha_he wanted. It was so pleasant, too, to dine in a comfortable peignoir.
She thought a little sentimentally about Leonce and the children, and wondere_hat they were doing. As she gave a dainty scrap or two to the doggie, sh_alked intimately to him about Etienne and Raoul. He was beside himself wit_stonishment and delight over these companionable advances, and showed hi_ppreciation by his little quick, snappy barks and a lively agitation.
Then Edna sat in the library after dinner and read Emerson until she gre_leepy. She realized that she had neglected her reading, and determined t_tart anew upon a course of improving studies, now that her time wa_ompletely her own to do with as she liked.
After a refreshing bath, Edna went to bed. And as she snuggled comfortabl_eneath the eiderdown a sense of restfulness invaded her, such as she had no_nown before.