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|The Awakening||Kate Chopin|
|Page 3 of 4||
"Robert," she said, "are you asleep?"
"No," he answered, looking up at her.
She leaned over and kissed him--a soft, cool, delicate kiss, whose voluptuous sting penetrated his whole being-then she moved away from him. He followed, and took her in his arms, just holding her close to him. She put her hand up to his face and pressed his cheek against her own. The action was full of love and tenderness. He sought her lips again. Then he drew her down upon the sofa beside him and held her hand in both of his.
"Now you know," he said, "now you know what I have been fighting against since last summer at Grand Isle; what drove me away and drove me back again."
"Why have you been fighting against it?" she asked. Her face glowed with soft lights.
"Why? Because you were not free; you were Leonce Pontellier's wife. I couldn't help loving you if you were ten times his wife; but so long as I went away from you and kept away I could help telling you so." She put her free hand up to his shoulder, and then against his cheek, rubbing it softly. He kissed her again. His face was warm and flushed.
"There in Mexico I was thinking of you all the time, and longing for you."
"But not writing to me," she interrupted.
"Something put into my head that you cared for me; and I lost my senses. I forgot everything but a wild dream of your some way becoming my wife."
"Religion, loyalty, everything would give way if only you cared."
"Then you must have forgotten that I was Leonce Pontellier's wife."
"Oh! I was demented, dreaming of wild, impossible things, recalling men who had set their wives free, we have heard of such things."
"Yes, we have heard of such things."
"I came back full of vague, mad intentions. And when I got here--"
"When you got here you never came near me!" She was still caressing his cheek.
"I realized what a cur I was to dream of such a thing, even if you had been willing."
She took his face between her hands and looked into it as if she would never withdraw her eyes more. She kissed him on the forehead, the eyes, the cheeks, and the lips.
"You have been a very, very foolish boy, wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of Mr. Pontellier setting me free! I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier's possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, 'Here, Robert, take her and be happy; she is yours,' I should laugh at you both."
His face grew a little white. "What do you mean?" he asked.
There was a knock at the door. Old Celestine came in to say that Madame Ratignolle's servant had come around the back way with a message that Madame had been taken sick and begged Mrs. Pontellier to go to her immediately.
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|The Awakening and Selected Short Stories
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