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Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news after her husband's death.
She sat with her head thrown back upon the cushion of the chair, quite motionless, except when a sob came up into her throat and shook her, as a child who cried itself to sleep continues to sob in it's dreams.
When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath:"free, free, free!"
free, free, free!
Free! Body and soul free!
And yet she had loved him--sometimes. Often she had not. What did it matter! What could love, the unsolved mystery, count for in the face of this possession of self-assertion which she suddenly recognized as the strongest impulse of her being.
Someone was opening the front door with a latchkey. It was Brently Mallard, who entered, a little travel-stained.
When the doctors came they said she had died of a heart disease--of joy that kills.
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