This is a retelling of the short story by Kate Chopin Regret enjoy it.
Mamzelle Aurlie was a striking figure on her farm, with her sturdy build, cheeks flushed from the sun, and hair fading from brown to gray. Her eyes, full of determination, missed little.
Around the farm, she favored practical attire: a man’s hat, an old blue army coat for the chilly days, and sometimes, sturdy top boots.
The idea of marriage had never appealed to Mamzelle Aurlie. Love, as others knew it, hadn’t touched her heart.
At twenty, she had briskly turned down a marriage proposal, and now at fifty, she harbored no regrets about her solitary life.
Her world was her own – except for her loyal dog Ponto, the workers who helped with her crops, her flock of chickens, a few cows, a couple of mules, her trusty gun for the occasional chicken hawk, and her deeply held beliefs.
One morning, Mamzelle Aurlie stood on her porch, hands on hips, looking in disbelief at a small group of children who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere.
Their arrival was as unexpected as it was unwelcome. These were the kids of Odile, her closest neighbor – though “close” was relative in these parts.
Odile, looking distressed, had shown up just five minutes earlier, her four children in tow. In her arms, she held little Lodie; by the hand, she firmly grasped Ti Nomme, who was less than eager to follow; trailing behind were Marcline and Marclette, their steps hesitant and unsure.
Tears and stress marred Odile’s face. She was in a rush, called away to a neighboring town because of her mother’s critical illness. Her husband was far away in Texas, a distance that felt insurmountable at the moment. Valsin, the driver, was already waiting with the car to take her to the train station.
“Mamzelle Aurlie, I have no choice but to leave these kids with you until I return. God knows I wouldn’t ask if there were any other way. Please, make sure they listen to you; don’t go easy on them.
I’m overwhelmed with the children, with Lon away, and worrying I might not even find my mother alive when I get there!” With these distressing thoughts, Odile hastily and emotionally said goodbye to her family.
She left the children huddled in the narrow shade on the porch of the long, low house.
The harsh sunlight whitened the worn boards; chickens pecked at the grass at the bottom of the steps, one bold enough to hop up and walk heavily and aimlessly across the porch.
The air carried the sweet scent of pinks, mixed with the distant sound of laughter from the workers in the flowering cotton fields.
Mamzelle Aurlie watched the children closely. Her gaze landed on Marcline, struggling under the weight of plump Lodie.
She then observed Marclette, her silent tears blending with Ti Nomme’s loud cries and defiant demeanor.
In those moments, Mamzelle Aurlie gathered her thoughts, figuring out how to handle this sudden responsibility. She decided to start by feeding them.
She had hoped that feeding them would be the extent of her duties. Her pantry was well-stocked, ready for any emergency.
But caring for children was more complex than feeding animals. They needed attention and care that Mamzelle Aurlie hadn’t anticipated and was unprepared for.
Her initial attempts at looking after Odile’s children were clumsy. For instance, she didn’t realize that Marclette would cry when spoken to sternly.
It was just how Marclette was. And she only discovered Ti Nomme’s fascination with flowers when he picked all her best gardenias and pinks, apparently to examine them closely.
“Just telling him off isn’t enough,” Marcline advised her. “You need to tie him to a chair. That’s what mom does when he misbehaves.” So, Mamzelle Aurlie tied Ti Nomme to a spacious and comfortable chair. In the warm afternoon, the boy took the opportunity to nap.
When bedtime came, Mamzelle Aurlie tried to herd the children to bed as if they were chickens in a coop, but they just stood there, not understanding. She hadn’t thought about the little white nightgowns packed in pillowcases, needing to be shaken out vigorously.
And what about washing their small, dusty feet in a tub of water set on the floor? The idea that she hadn’t known Ti Nomme needed a bedtime story, or that Lodie couldn’t sleep without being rocked and sung to, made Marcline and Marclette giggle.
“I swear, Aunt Ruby,” Mamzelle Aurlie confided to her cook, “I’d rather run a dozen farms than look after four children. It’s exhausting! Honestly, don’t even talk to me about kids!”
“Well, I wouldn’t expect you to know much about children, Mamzelle Aurlie,” Aunt Ruby replied. “I could tell yesterday when I saw that little one playing with your basket of keys.
Did you know letting children play with keys can make them stubborn? Or that looking in a mirror can make their teeth come in stronger? These are the things you learn from raising kids.”
Mamzelle Aurlie didn’t claim to have the extensive knowledge that Aunt Ruby, who had raised five children and lost six, did. But she was eager to learn whatever parenting tricks she could.
Dealing with Ti Nomme’s sticky fingers meant digging out white aprons she hadn’t worn in years and getting used to his wet, affectionate kisses. She took down her rarely used sewing basket from the top shelf, ready to mend torn clothes and replace missing buttons.
The constant laughter, crying, and chatter around the house took some getting used to. And it wasn’t until after a few restless nights that she could comfortably sleep with little Lodie’s warm, chubby body snuggled close to her, the child’s soft breathing gently touching her cheek.
However, by the end of two weeks, Mamzelle Aurlie had adjusted to her new routine and found herself no longer complaining about the lively presence of the children.
After two weeks had passed, Mamzelle Aurlie, standing outside one evening and gazing toward the cattle crib, noticed Valsin’s blue car turning onto the road. Odile was there, sitting next to the driver, looking alert and happy. As they approached, Odile’s bright, relieved smile said it all – she was glad to be back.
This unexpected arrival sent Mamzelle Aurlie into a whirl of activity. She had to gather the children quickly. Ti Nomme was in the shed, sharpening his knife on the grindstone.
Marcline and Marclette were on the porch, busy making clothes for their dolls. Lodie, already in Mamzelle Aurlie’s arms, squealed with joy at the sight of the blue cart that was bringing her mother back to her.
Then, suddenly, the excitement was over, and they had left. The quiet that followed their departure was striking. Standing on the porch, Mamzelle Aurlie watched and listened.
The car had disappeared into the evening, its sound swallowed up by the distance. She could still hear the children’s happy voices echoing faintly.
Turning back into the house, she was met with the chaos the children had left behind. But she didn’t immediately start tidying up. Instead, Mamzelle Aurlie sat down at the table, the room growing darker around her.
She looked around slowly, then rested her head on her arm and began to cry. Her sobs were deep and heart-wrenching, not the quiet kind of tears. In her moment of raw emotion, she didn’t even notice Ponto gently licking her hand.
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