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Chapter 38

  • Edna still felt dazed when she got outside in the open air. The Doctor's coup_ad returned for him and stood before the porte cochere. She did not wish t_nter the coupe, and told Doctor Mandelet she would walk; she was not afraid,
  • and would go alone. He directed his carriage to meet him at Mrs. Pontellier's,
  • and he started to walk home with her.
  • Up—away up, over the narrow street between the tall houses, the stars wer_lazing. The air was mild and caressing, but cool with the breath of sprin_nd the night. They walked slowly, the Doctor with a heavy, measured tread an_is hands behind him; Edna, in an absent-minded way, as she had walked on_ight at Grand Isle, as if her thoughts had gone ahead of her and she wa_triving to overtake them.
  • "You shouldn't have been there, Mrs. Pontellier," he said. "That was no plac_or you. Adele is full of whims at such times. There were a dozen women sh_ight have had with her, unimpressionable women. I felt that it was cruel,
  • cruel. You shouldn't have gone."
  • "Oh, well!" she answered, indifferently. "I don't know that it matters afte_ll. One has to think of the children some time or other; the sooner th_etter."
  • "When is Leonce coming back?"
  • "Quite soon. Some time in March."
  • "And you are going abroad?"
  • "Perhaps—no, I am not going. I'm not going to be forced into doing things. _on't want to go abroad. I want to be let alone. Nobody has any right—excep_hildren, perhaps—and even then, it seems to me—or it did seem—" She felt tha_er speech was voicing the incoherency of her thoughts, and stopped abruptly.
  • "The trouble is," sighed the Doctor, grasping her meaning intuitively, "tha_outh is given up to illusions. It seems to be a provision of Nature; a deco_o secure mothers for the race. And Nature takes no account of mora_onsequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we fee_bliged to maintain at any cost."
  • "Yes," she said. "The years that are gone seem like dreams—if one might go o_leeping and dreaming—but to wake up and find—oh! well! perhaps it is bette_o wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe t_llusions all one's life."
  • "It seems to me, my dear child," said the Doctor at parting, holding her hand,
  • "you seem to me to be in trouble. I am not going to ask for your confidence. _ill only say that if ever you feel moved to give it to me, perhaps I migh_elp you. I know I would understand, And I tell you there are not many wh_ould—not many, my dear."
  • "Some way I don't feel moved to speak of things that trouble me. Don't think _m ungrateful or that I don't appreciate your sympathy. There are periods o_espondency and suffering which take possession of me. But I don't wan_nything but my own way. That is wanting a good deal, of course, when you hav_o trample upon the lives, the hearts, the prejudices of others—but no matter-
  • still, I shouldn't want to trample upon the little lives. Oh! I don't kno_hat I'm saying, Doctor. Good night. Don't blame me for anything."
  • "Yes, I will blame you if you don't come and see me soon. We will talk o_hings you never have dreamt of talking about before. It will do us both good.
  • I don't want you to blame yourself, whatever comes. Good night, my child."
  • She let herself in at the gate, but instead of entering she sat upon the ste_f the porch. The night was quiet and soothing. All the tearing emotion of th_ast few hours seemed to fall away from her like a somber, uncomfortabl_arment, which she had but to loosen to be rid of. She went back to that hou_efore Adele had sent for her; and her senses kindled afresh in thinking o_obert's words, the pressure of his arms, and the feeling of his lips upon he_wn. She could picture at that moment no greater bliss on earth tha_ossession of the beloved one. His expression of love had already given him t_er in part. When she thought that he was there at hand, waiting for her, sh_rew numb with the intoxication of expectancy. It was so late; he would b_sleep perhaps. She would awaken him with a kiss. She hoped he would be aslee_hat she might arouse him with her caresses.
  • Still, she remembered Adele's voice whispering, "Think of the children; thin_f them." She meant to think of them; that determination had driven into he_oul like a death wound—but not to-night. To-morrow would be time to think o_verything.
  • Robert was not waiting for her in the little parlor. He was nowhere at hand.
  • The house was empty. But he had scrawled on a piece of paper that lay in th_amplight:
  • "I love you. Good-by—because I love you."
  • Edna grew faint when she read the words. She went and sat on the sofa. The_he stretched herself out there, never uttering a sound. She did not sleep.
  • She did not go to bed. The lamp sputtered and went out. She was still awake i_he morning, when Celestine unlocked the kitchen door and came in to light th_ire.