The Colonel is concerned that Edna will not attend his other daughter’s
wedding in New York. L'once tries to calm the situation by offering to go to the wedding himself, but this further angers the Colonel for his lack of control over his wife.
Before L'once departs for the wedding in New York, Edna suddenly becomes
more attentive to her husband, remembering his kindnesses in previous years.
With L'once away, Edna’s children are packed off to spend time with L'once’s mother at her home in the country. Edna enjoys the tranquility of being alone and spends much of her time reading.
We read, “’you are too lenient, too lenient by far, L'once,’ asserted the
‘Authority, coercion are what is needed. Put your foot down good and hard; the only way to manage a wife. Take my word for it.’” The next paragraph indicates that the Colonel coerced his wife into an early grave.
We see that Edna was brought up in an austere household run along military
lines by the Colonel. This clearly fuelled Edna’s infatuations and escapism in her youth, which she considered to be unnatural because of her upbringing.
Her marriage to L'once enabled her to subdue these feelings, which have now resurfaced with more passion than before.