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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesO Pioneers! - PART IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Chapter 5
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O Pioneers! - PART IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Chapter 5 Post by :wjteller Category :Long Stories Author :Willa Cather Date :March 2011 Read :1412

Click below to download : O Pioneers! - PART IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Chapter 5 (Format : PDF)

O Pioneers! - PART IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Chapter 5

When Frank Shabata came in from work at five o'clock that evening,
old Moses Marcel, Raoul's father, telephoned him that Amedee had
had a seizure in the wheatfield, and that Doctor Paradis was going
to operate on him as soon as the Hanover doctor got there to help.
Frank dropped a word of this at the table, bolted his supper, and
rode off to Sainte-Agnes, where there would be sympathetic discussion
of Amedee's case at Marcel's saloon.

As soon as Frank was gone, Marie telephoned Alexandra. It was a
comfort to hear her friend's voice. Yes, Alexandra knew what there
was to be known about Amedee. Emil had been there when they carried
him out of the field, and had stayed with him until the doctors
operated for appendicitis at five o'clock. They were afraid it
was too late to do much good; it should have been done three days
ago. Amedee was in a very bad way. Emil had just come home, worn
out and sick himself. She had given him some brandy and put him
to bed.

Marie hung up the receiver. Poor Amedee's illness had taken on a
new meaning to her, now that she knew Emil had been with him. And
it might so easily have been the other way--Emil who was ill and
Amedee who was sad! Marie looked about the dusky sitting-room.
She had seldom felt so utterly lonely. If Emil was asleep, there
was not even a chance of his coming; and she could not go to
Alexandra for sympathy. She meant to tell Alexandra everything,
as soon as Emil went away. Then whatever was left between them
would be honest.

But she could not stay in the house this evening. Where should she
go? She walked slowly down through the orchard, where the evening
air was heavy with the smell of wild cotton. The fresh, salty scent
of the wild roses had given way before this more powerful perfume
of midsummer. Wherever those ashes-of-rose balls hung on their
milky stalks, the air about them was saturated with their breath.
The sky was still red in the west and the evening star hung
directly over the Bergsons' wind-mill. Marie crossed the fence at
the wheatfield corner, and walked slowly along the path that led
to Alexandra's. She could not help feeling hurt that Emil had not
come to tell her about Amedee. It seemed to her most unnatural
that he should not have come. If she were in trouble, certainly
he was the one person in the world she would want to see. Perhaps
he wished her to understand that for her he was as good as gone
already.

Marie stole slowly, flutteringly, along the path, like a white
night-moth out of the fields. The years seemed to stretch before
her like the land; spring, summer, autumn, winter, spring; always
the same patient fields, the patient little trees, the patient lives;
always the same yearning, the same pulling at the chain--until the
instinct to live had torn itself and bled and weakened for the last
time, until the chain secured a dead woman, who might cautiously
be released. Marie walked on, her face lifted toward the remote,
inaccessible evening star.

When she reached the stile she sat down and waited. How terrible
it was to love people when you could not really share their lives!

Yes, in so far as she was concerned, Emil was already gone. They
couldn't meet any more. There was nothing for them to say. They
had spent the last penny of their small change; there was nothing
left but gold. The day of love-tokens was past. They had now
only their hearts to give each other. And Emil being gone, what
was her life to be like? In some ways, it would be easier. She
would not, at least, live in perpetual fear. If Emil were once
away and settled at work, she would not have the feeling that she
was spoiling his life. With the memory he left her, she could be
as rash as she chose. Nobody could be the worse for it but herself;
and that, surely, did not matter. Her own case was clear. When a
girl had loved one man, and then loved another while that man was
still alive, everybody knew what to think of her. What happened
to her was of little consequence, so long as she did not drag other
people down with her. Emil once away, she could let everything
else go and live a new life of perfect love.

Marie left the stile reluctantly. She had, after all, thought he
might come. And how glad she ought to be, she told herself, that
he was asleep. She left the path and went across the pasture. The
moon was almost full. An owl was hooting somewhere in the fields.
She had scarcely thought about where she was going when the pond
glittered before her, where Emil had shot the ducks. She stopped
and looked at it. Yes, there would be a dirty way out of life, if
one chose to take it. But she did not want to die. She wanted to
live and dream--a hundred years, forever! As long as this sweetness
welled up in her heart, as long as her breast could hold this
treasure of pain! She felt as the pond must feel when it held the
moon like that; when it encircled and swelled with that image of
gold.

In the morning, when Emil came down-stairs, Alexandra met him
in the sitting-room and put her hands on his shoulders. "Emil, I
went to your room as soon as it was light, but you were sleeping
so sound I hated to wake you. There was nothing you could do, so
I let you sleep. They telephoned from Sainte-Agnes that Amedee
died at three o'clock this morning."

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O Pioneers! - PART IV - The White Mulberry Tree - Chapter 6
The Church has always held that life is for the living. On Saturday,while half the village of Sainte-Agnes was mourning for Amedee andpreparing the funeral black for his burial on Monday, the otherhalf was busy with white dresses and white veils for the greatconfirmation service to-morrow, when the bishop was to confirm aclass of one hundred boys and girls. Father Duchesne divided histime between the living and the dead. All day Saturday the churchwas a scene of bustling activity, a little hushed by the thoughtof Amedee. The choir were busy rehearsing a mass of Rossini, whichthey had
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The next morning Angelique, Amedee's wife, was in the kitchen bakingpies, assisted by old Mrs. Chevalier. Between the mixing-boardand the stove stood the old cradle that had been Amedee's, and init was his black-eyed son. As Angelique, flushed and excited, withflour on her hands, stopped to smile at the baby, Emil Bergson rodeup to the kitchen door on his mare and dismounted."'Medee is out in the field, Emil," Angelique called as she ranacross the kitchen to the oven. "He begins to cut his wheat to-day;the first wheat ready to cut anywhere about here. He bought a newheader,
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