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Kate Chopin Uncollected Short Stories, Volume 1

Click the title for the online source of these stories!

1. A Day in December
2. A Family Affair (1899)
3. A Harbinger (1891)
4. A Horse Story
5. A Little Country Girl
6. A Little Free-Mulatto
7. A Mental Suggestion
8. A Morning Walk (1897)
9. A Pair of Silk Stockings (1897)
10. A Point at Issue! (1889)

    I love the works of Kate Chopin. I own both of her novels, plus two short miscellaneous story collections from Dover. Project Gutenberg has made available one of her two published short story collections, Bayou Folk. (You may read about these on the Kate Chopin Index Page.) But the problem is that most of her works are uncollected short stories—over fifty, in fact—that originally appeared in magazines, periodicals and the like, and have not been digitized. So . . . I have taken it upon myself to begin yet another huge project, that being converting her works into eBooks. Many of her stories are available to read on online, but I don't particularly like reading online. I would much rather curl up on my couch or sit on my porch and read. So I have learned to digitize, and you may read all about that in the newsletter above. It's easy!
    I am still searching for particular works, which should eventually show up, because they are all out of copyright now. The best source at present to find many of Chopin's works is at Wikisource. They also have available Chopin's other short story collection, A Night in Acadie. Here is a brief review of each of these stories, except A Pair of Silk Stockings, which can be found on the Kate Chopin Index Page linked above.

A Day in December
    This is a very brief story about the day a rare two inches of snow falls in Natchez County, Mississippi, and Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The train travelers disembark, hoping for something hot at Emile Sautier's saloon across the tracks. Emile's wife is fat and dirty, and the chicken and ham are still alive out back, so they opt for just coffee. The cotton is still in the fields, and the residents decide to take the day off and play in the snow. But by the next day, the sun comes up and all is melted.

A Family Affair
    Madame Solisainte is an old, fat, crabby and selfish woman who has made herself into a cripple. She is also miserly and has a very black young girl, Dimple, to keep her eyes open for anyone in her household that may be stealing from her. She sits in a chair by the back window so she can watch what her workers are doing.
    One day, however, she decides to ask her sister for help, by way of sending one of her nieces to care for her for a while. No one wants to go, but the sweet and kind-hearted Bose agrees. She arrives with three trunks, a tin bathtub, a dog, and a big smile. She will soon get her aunt up and about, and feeling better. However, she takes control of the situation, and that isn't quite what Madame had in mind. Her keys are taken from her, and soon Bose has thrown away the moldy food in the cupboards, and stocks them with fresh food, in addition to finding someone who can cook. Soon friends arrive and the whole atmosphere has changed. Not that the old crab appreciates it. But it seems that the young doctor is spending most of the time there, and when Bose announces that she will be leaving to be married, Madame nearly leaps for joy. Kind of.
    It seems that Bose had an additional motive to come and stay with her aunt. When her grandmother died, Madame Solisainte took everything, half of which should have gone to Bose's mother. While there, Bose carefully divides, and sends off to her mother her rightful share of the inheritance. Madame, oblivious to all Bose has done for her, actually gets out of her chair and walks for the first time in two years, screaming that she has been robbed!

A Harbinger
    This is a very short story—only several paragraphs long, about a painter, Bruno, who comes to the hills in the summer to paint. There he discovers Diantha, whom he paints, and kisses when he leaves. He thinks about her all winter, and goes back the following summer, hoping to see her. Alas, as he arrives, he sees her coming out of a church—as a bride.

A Horse Story
    Both humorous and bittersweet, this story is about an old Indian horse, named Ti Démon, who now belongs to a 'Cadian girl, Herminia. The story is told from his perspective. He is a bit cantankerous, he misses his Indians, and doesn't understand Herminia's language (or so he says.) One day she rides him up into the pine forest to visit friends, but his foot hurts and he refuses to go any farther. So she ties him and walks the few miles. But he is crafty and manages to get loose, and go back home, where he is mad that no one is there to feed him, So he goes to the neighbor's, where young Solistan sees him, with the saddle hanging underneath him. (He had tried to get it loose.) Solistan is alarmed, thinking Herminia has been hurt, and goes off to find her. When they return, Solistan makes a remark that the old horse finds hurtful, and brings about sad consequences.

A Little Country Girl
    As the one above, this also has humorous and bittersweet qualities. Ninette lives with her grandmother and grandfather, who have forgotten a child needs to play and have fun. Everyone is going to the circus but Ninette, even the Negroes. Black-Gal comes and taunts Ninette, which makes her even angrier. And so she wishes it will rain, pour and pour and pour on Black-Gal's pink flounce dress. But soon Jules Perrault comes along with his family and demands to know why Ninette isn't going to the circus. The grandparents are silent, because they look up to Perrault. Soon Ninette is on her way.
    But her other wish comes true, too, and soon it begins to storm, The tent is blown down and people are injured. Ninette comes home, and for weeks is depressed because she believes she was responsible. Finally her grandmother calls the priest, who tells her she has no power to control the weather. And Jules Perrault talks to the grandparents, and tells them that Ninette must be allowed to play with other children.

A Little Free-Mulatto
    M'sié Jean-Ba' could easily "pass" for white, but chooses not to. But it is his daughter Aurélia suffers most because she is not allowed to play with the white children or the "darkies." So when his contract is up in December, he moves his family to what Aurélia thinks is paradise—a place where she fits in. It is L'Isle des Mulâtres. This is another of the very short stories!

A Mental Suggestion
    Don Graham is a college professor, who is engaged to Pauline. He also dabbles in hypnotism and psychic research, and his friend Faverham is often the victim. The three of them are spending October at Cedar Branch, but Graham must return, so he puts a "suggestion" into Faverham's mind that he will find Pauline the most attractive woman around. Pauline is the intellectual type, an art collector, and someone whom Faverham finds extremely boring. But she is staying on at Cedar Branch, and Graham wants to make sure that she has companionship.
    Well, she gets it. In fact, Graham's plan goes very wrong when the two fall in love. He accepts it, but also fears that the "suggestion" will wear off. Until he realizes that they love each other, and it has nothing to do with his hypnotism.

A Morning Walk
    Archibald is the scientific type. He is out for a walk in the fresh spring air, when he see a bundle of lilies bobbing ahead of him. It is Lucy, but he calls her Jane (her cousin). He usually doesn't notice pretty girls, but today he does. It is Easter, and he follows her into the church. This is another of the quite short stories.

A Point at Issue!
    Eleanor Gail and Charles Faraday are married without the usual announcements. In fact, they don't follow the conventional. He is a Professor of Mathematics, and she is also very intelligent and creative. The go to Europe to travel, but when Charles must return, it has been planned that Eleanor will stay in Paris for a couple years because her goal is to speak fluent French. The town residents are aghast at such behavior from a married couple. However, their relationship is tested (just a tiny bit).

    These are just the first ten of my ongoing Chopin project. There is also a book, a rather expensive one, that contains her (mostly) complete works. However, since I already own everything but the short stories and poems, I can't justify spending so much for the book. I hope that eventually all her short stories and poetry will be made available online so I can convert them into eBooks (and you can, too!). I strongly recommend reading her works!

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