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CALINEby Kate ChopinCalineThe sun was just far enough in the west to send inviting shadows. In the centre of a small fieldand in the shade of a haystack which was therea girl lay sleeping. She had slept long and soundlywhen something awoke her as suddenly as if it had been a blow. She opened her eyes and stared a moment up in the cloudless sky. She yawned and stretched her long brown legs and armslazily. Then she arosenever minding the bits of straw that clung to her black hairto her red bodiceand the blue cottonade skirt that did not reach her naked ankles.The log cabin in which she dwelt with her parents was just outside the enclosure in which she had been sleeping. Beyond was a small clearing that did duty as a cotton field. All else was dense woodexcept the long stretch that curved round the brow of the hilland in which glittered the steel rails of the Texas and Pacific road.When Caline emerged from the shadow she saw a long train of passenger coaches standing in viewwhere they must have stopped abruptly. It was that sudden stopping which had awakened her; for such a thing had not happened before within her recollectionand she looked stupidat firstwith astonishment. There seemed to be something wrong with the engine; and some of the passengers who dismounted went forward to investigate the trouble. Others came strolling along in the direction of the cabinwhere Caline stood under an old gnarled mulberry treestaring. Her father had halted his mule at the end of the cotton rowand stood staring alsoleaning upon his plow.There were ladies in the party. They walked awkwardly in their high-heeled boots over the roughuneven groundand held up their skirts mincingly. They twirled parasols over their shouldersand laughed immoderately at the funny things which their masculine companions were saying.They tried to talk to Calinebut could not understand the French patois with which she answered them.One of the men- a pleasant-faced youngster- drew a sketch book from his pocket and began to make a picture of the girl. She stayed motionlessher hands behind herand her wide eyes fixed earnestly upon him.Before he had finished there was a summons from the trainand all went scampering hurriedly away. The engine screechedit sent a few lazy puffs into the still airand in another moment or two had vanishedbearing its human cargo with it.Caline could not feel the same after that. She looked with new and strange interest upon the trains of cars that passed so swiftly back and forth across her visioneach dayand wondered whence these people cameand whither they were going.Her mother and father could not tell herexcept to say that they came from "loin la bas and were going Djieu sait e ou."One day she walked miles down the track to talk with the old flagmanwho stayed down there by the big water tank. Yeshe knew. Those people came from the great cities in the northand were going to the city in the south. He knew all about the city; it was a grand place. He had lived there once. His sister lived there nowand she would be glad enough to have so fine a girl as Caline to help her cook and scruband tend the babies. And he thought Caline might earn as much as five dollars a monthin the city.So she went; in a new cottonadeand her Sunday shoeswith a sacredly guarded scrawl that the flagman sent to his sister.The woman lived in a tinystuccoed housewith green blindsand three wooden steps leading down to the banquette. There seemed to be hundreds like it along the street. Over the house tops loomed the tall masts of shipsand the hum of the French market could be heard on a still morning.Caline was at first bewildered. She had to readjust all her preconceptions to fit the reality of it. The flagman's sister was a kind and gentle taskmistress. At the end of a week or two she wanted to know how the girl liked it all. Caline liked it very wellfor it was pleasanton Sunday afternoonsto stroll with the children under the greatsolemn sugar shedsor to sit upon the compressed cotton baleswatching the stately steamersthe graceful boatsand noisy little tugs that plied the waters of the Mississippi. And it filled her with agreeable excitement to go to the French marketwhere the handsome Gascon butchers were eager to present their compliments and little Sunday bouquets to the pretty Acadian girl; and to throw fistfuls of2lagniappe 4 into her basket.When the woman asked her again after another week if she were still pleasedshe was not so sure. And again when she questioned Caline the girl turned awayand went to sit behind the bigyellow cisternto cry unobserved. For she knew now that it was not the great city and its crowds of people she had so eagerly soughtbut the pleasant-faced boywho had made her picture that day under the mulberry tree.THE END