Athalie (Chapter 2, page 1 of 16)

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Chapter 2

Her first memories were of blue skies, green trees, sunshine, and the
odour of warm moist earth.

Always through life she retained this memory of her early
consciousness--a tree in pink bloom; morning-glories covering a
rotting board fence; deep, rich, sun-warmed soil into which her baby
fingers burrowed.

A little later commenced her memory of her mother--a still,
white-shawled figure sewing under a peach tree in pink bloom.

Vast were her mother's skirts, as Athalie remembered them--a wide
white tent under which she could creep out of the sunlight and hide.

Always, too, her earliest memories were crowded with children, hosts
of them in a kaleidoscopic whirl around her, and their voices seemed
ever in her ears.

By the age of four she had gradually understood that this vaguely
pictured host of children numbered only three, and that they were her
brother and two sisters--very much grown up and desirable to play
with. But at seven she began to be surprised that Doris and Catharine
were no older and no bigger than they were, although Jack's twelve
years still awed her.

It was about this time that the child began to be aware of a
difference between herself and the other children. For a year or two
it did not trouble her, nor even confuse her. She seemed to be aware
of it, that was all.

When it first dawned on her that her mother was aware of it too, she
could never quite remember. Once, very early in her career, her mother
who had been sewing under the peach tree, dropped her work and looked
down at her very steadily where she sat digging holes in the dirt.

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