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Kate Chopin Uncollected Short Stories, Volume 1

Click the title for the online source of these stories!

11. A Reflection
12. A Respectable Woman (1894)
13. A Shameful Affair (1893)
14. An Egyptian Cigarette (1897)
15. An Idle Fellow
16. Doctor Chevalier's Lie (1893)
17. Emancipation: A Life Fable
18. Her Letters (1895)
19. Juanita (1895)
20. Lilacs (1896)

    This is the second volume of my ongoing Chopin Project, to digitize her works that are not available yet in that format. These are her uncollected short stories, and the stories that I've included in this set are indeed very short. I am not offering my digitized versions to the public, but you may find the stories online at Wikisource and digitize them yourself. The link to the newsletter above gives you easy directions. You may also, of course, read them online. For all the works I have reviewed by Kate Chopin, please refer to her Index Page. There are still quite a few of her short stories that have not been made readily available online, but I am searching to find them scattered about in various places. Their copyrights should be all pretty much expired by now, so it would seem that they would be making their way into the public domain.
    In any case, here are ten of them, and this will be a very short review. My review of last story, Lilacs, may be found at the printed book of that title, Lilacs and Other Stories.

A Reflection
    This extremely short, (only four paragraphs), philosophical piece compares those who flow with the movement of the masses to others who prefer a more still and static life in the unchanging bosom of nature.

A Respectable Woman
    Mrs. Baroda intended to spend some quiet time back at the plantation after a busy schedule of winter entertaining. But her husband has invited his college friend, a journalist named Gouvernail, to spend a couple weeks with them. She is determined to not like him, but in fact she does. Perhaps a bit more than her comfort allows.

A Shameful Affair
    Mildred Orme is visiting the Kraummer farm for a summer respite. She observes the farmhands as they march in from the fields to eat, and notices one who is quite attractive. She requests that he drive her to church the next day, and when he refuses, saying he is going fishing, she instead seeks him out at the river. One might say that what happens is not what she planned, but in fact, it was likely what she wanted, causing them both embarrassment in the end.

An Egyptian Cigarette
    This one has a touch of the supernatural in it, not a common trait of Chopin's works. A woman is given a box of very fine cigarettes by her friend, the Architect, at a gathering. They were given to him by a fakir in Cairo. The box is sealed up, and when cut open, there are six very fine handmade cigarettes. The narrator does not smoke them at first, but later on, retires to the smoking room and tries one out. Something strange happens then: she is transported to the desert, where a woman has been scorned by her lover, and left alone in the blazing sand. She needs to reach water, but lays there instead until the sun goes down. She knows he will not return this time, as he had in the past. He is gone forever. Hmm. Makes one wonder just what those ciggies were made of . . . .

An Idle Fellow
    Like the first story, this compares two people, the narrator and Paul, who are friends. The narrator has spent his life studying, immersed in books, and now realizes he is tired. But Paul enjoys nature. He listens to the thrush calling her mate; he notices the clouds and the scent of the clover. He can read people's souls. He is wise in a way not concerned with books.

Doctor Chevalier's Lie
    The Doctor lives near a neighborhood where he is accustomed to hear pistol shots, and then be summoned to the crisis. But this time the victim is a girl he knew. He had met the poor family in Arkansas when he and a friend were hunting, and were treated with great hospitality. And so he takes responsibility for making the necessary arrangements for the dead girl.

Emancipation: A Life Fable
    And here we have yet another short philosophical work, this time using the allegory of a caged animal who one day finds the door unlocked. Cautiously he leaves his confines and enters the world of freedom. But there is also a price to pay. The necessities for life which had been given to him, now must be sought on his own.

Her Letters
    This one is a tragedy about a woman who is dying. She has kept a bundle of love letters, and now unwraps them and begins to toss them in the fire. But she cannot. She panics. Did this or that certain one get burnt? No, she must make other plans. She decides to wrap them again and leave them with a note to husband to destroy them without opening the packet, upon her death.
    Death comes and her grieving husband does as she had requested. But he becomes haunted by the act. What could his wife possibly have had that she didn't want him to see? There is only one conclusion he can draw. He begins to speak with her friends, both men and women, yet that does not bring him closer to what he seeks and he is driven to total despair.

    Juanita is a quite stout girl who goes around in a dirty dress, and helps her parents out in their store. But for some reason the boys seem to life her, and she is expected to marry well. But soon a poor one-legged tramp comes into town, and Juanita seeks to get him a cork leg. But she ends up with a baby. She says the one-legged man is her husband, and the couple seem quite happy.

    And there are the second set of ten uncollected stories of Kate Chopin. As always, I recommend reading her wonderful works that paint a vivid picture of life in the south after the Civil War.

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