Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 410
Charles’s unassuming little brick house fronts the main road that runs through Tostes. Its dining room is also the sitting room. The office where he sees medical patients is next to the kitchen; sounds and smells drift back and forth between the two. Upstairs there is a guest room and a master bedroom. Upon entering the latter for the first time, Emma immediately notices a bridal bouquet that belonged to Charles’s first wife. He grabs it and takes it up to the attic, leaving Emma to wonder what will happen to her bouquet when she dies.
For a few days, Emma makes minor changes in the house. She replaces the wallpaper, repaints a few rooms, and effects other improvements. She asks neighbors how to install a little fountain and pond in the yard. Charles buys her a used buggy so that they can go for drives.
Throughout these honeymoon days, Charles is deliriously happy. He takes constant enjoyment in little aspects of life that he never noticed before, merely because Emma is there to share them with him. At odd moments, he finds himself just staring at her—especially at her eyes, which seem to change color according to the light and Emma's mood. He is so smitten that he often misses her when he is driving around town to see patients. When he feels this way, he rushes home and sneaks up behind her to kiss her.
Never before has Charles known what it is to be happy. At his boarding school, students made fun of him continually. In medical school, he had to study too much, and he never had enough money. During his first marriage, he was forced to put up with a bossy old woman who had “feet . . . like icicles.” Now he has freedom and a wife he adores.
Charles’s love for Emma borders on obsession. When she is not in the room, he cannot stop himself from touching her jewelry and combs. When she is with him, he often smothers her with kisses until “half amused, half annoyed, she. . . [pushes] him away like an importunate child.”
Emma is not nearly as thrilled with her new husband as he is with her. Before she married Charles, she thought she was in love with him. However, the bliss she thinks love should bring has eluded her. She thinks she must have been wrong about her feelings. Privately, she craves the experience of real love.
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