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Chapter 24

  • 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.