gardinen wohnzimmer creme

gardinen wohnzimmer creme

part 5: chapter xxi some people contended that the reasonmademoiselle reisz always chose apartments up under the roof was to discourage theapproach of beggars, peddlars and callers. there were plenty of windows in her littlefront room. they were for the most part dingy, but asthey were nearly always open it did not make so much difference. they often admitted into the room a gooddeal of smoke and soot; but at the same time all the light and air that there wascame through them. from her windows could be seen the crescentof the river, the masts of ships and the

big chimneys of the mississippi steamers.a magnificent piano crowded the apartment. in the next room she slept, and in thethird and last she harbored a gasoline stove on which she cooked her meals whendisinclined to descend to the neighboring restaurant. it was there also that she ate, keeping herbelongings in a rare old buffet, dingy and battered from a hundred years of use. when edna knocked at mademoiselle reisz'sfront room door and entered, she discovered that person standing beside the window,engaged in mending or patching an old prunella gaiter.

the little musician laughed all over whenshe saw edna. her laugh consisted of a contortion of theface and all the muscles of the body. she seemed strikingly homely, standingthere in the afternoon light. she still wore the shabby lace and theartificial bunch of violets on the side of her head. "so you remembered me at last," saidmademoiselle. "i had said to myself, 'ah, bah! she willnever come.'" "did you want me to come?" asked edna witha smile. "i had not thought much about it," answeredmademoiselle.

the two had seated themselves on a littlebumpy sofa which stood against the wall. "i am glad, however, that you came.i have the water boiling back there, and was just about to make some coffee. you will drink a cup with me.and how is la belle dame? always handsome! always healthy! alwayscontented!" she took edna's hand between her strongwiry fingers, holding it loosely without warmth, and executing a sort of doubletheme upon the back and palm. "yes," she went on; "i sometimes thought:'she will never come. she promised as those women in societyalways do, without meaning it.

she will not come.' for i really don't believe you like me,mrs. pontellier." "i don't know whether i like you or not,"replied edna, gazing down at the little woman with a quizzical look. the candor of mrs. pontellier's admissiongreatly pleased mademoiselle reisz. she expressed her gratification byrepairing forthwith to the region of the gasoline stove and rewarding her guest withthe promised cup of coffee. the coffee and the biscuit accompanying itproved very acceptable to edna, who had declined refreshment at madame lebrun's andwas now beginning to feel hungry.

mademoiselle set the tray which she broughtin upon a small table near at hand, and seated herself once again on the lumpysofa. "i have had a letter from your friend," sheremarked, as she poured a little cream into edna's cup and handed it to her."my friend?" "yes, your friend robert. he wrote to me from the city of mexico.""wrote to you?" repeated edna in amazement, stirring her coffee absently."yes, to me. why not? don't stir all the warmth out of yourcoffee; drink it.

though the letter might as well have beensent to you; it was nothing but mrs. pontellier from beginning to end." "let me see it," requested the young woman,entreatingly. "no; a letter concerns no one but theperson who writes it and the one to whom it is written." "haven't you just said it concerned me frombeginning to end?" "it was written about you, not to you.'have you seen mrs. pontellier? how is she looking?' he asks. 'as mrs. pontellier says,' or 'as mrs.pontellier once said.'

'if mrs. pontellier should call upon you,play for her that impromptu of chopin's, my favorite. i heard it here a day or two ago, but notas you play it. i should like to know how it affects her,'and so on, as if he supposed we were constantly in each other's society." "let me see the letter.""oh, no." "have you answered it?""no." "let me see the letter." "no, and again, no.""then play the impromptu for me."

"it is growing late; what time do you haveto be home?" "time doesn't concern me. your question seems a little the impromptu." "but you have told me nothing of yourself.what are you doing?" "painting!" laughed edna. "i am becoming an artist.think of it!" "ah! an artist!you have pretensions, madame." "why pretensions? do you think i could not become an artist?""i do not know you well enough to say.

i do not know your talent or yourtemperament. to be an artist includes much; one mustpossess many gifts--absolute gifts--which have not been acquired by one's own effort.and, moreover, to succeed, the artist must possess the courageous soul." "what do you mean by the courageous soul?""courageous, ma foi! the brave soul.the soul that dares and defies." "show me the letter and play for me theimpromptu. you see that i have persistence.does that quality count for anything in art?"

"it counts with a foolish old woman whomyou have captivated," replied mademoiselle, with her wriggling laugh. the letter was right there at hand in thedrawer of the little table upon which edna had just placed her coffee cup.mademoiselle opened the drawer and drew forth the letter, the topmost one. she placed it in edna's hands, and withoutfurther comment arose and went to the piano.mademoiselle played a soft interlude. it was an improvisation. she sat low at the instrument, and thelines of her body settled into ungraceful

curves and angles that gave it anappearance of deformity. gradually and imperceptibly the interludemelted into the soft opening minor chords of the chopin impromptu.edna did not know when the impromptu began or ended. she sat in the sofa corner reading robert'sletter by the fading light. mademoiselle had glided from the chopininto the quivering love notes of isolde's song, and back again to the impromptu withits soulful and poignant longing. the shadows deepened in the little room. the music grew strange and fantastic--turbulent, insistent, plaintive and soft

with entreaty.the shadows grew deeper. the music filled the room. it floated out upon the night, over thehousetops, the crescent of the river, losing itself in the silence of the upperair. edna was sobbing, just as she had wept onemidnight at grand isle when strange, new voices awoke in her.she arose in some agitation to take her departure. "may i come again, mademoiselle?" she askedat the threshold. "come whenever you feel like careful; the stairs and landings are

dark; don't stumble." mademoiselle reentered and lit a candle.robert's letter was on the floor. she stooped and picked it was crumpled and damp with tears. mademoiselle smoothed the letter out,restored it to the envelope, and replaced it in the table drawer. chapter xxii one morning on his way into town mr.pontellier stopped at the house of his old friend and family physician, doctormandelet. the doctor was a semi-retired physician,resting, as the saying is, upon his

laurels. he bore a reputation for wisdom rather thanskill--leaving the active practice of medicine to his assistants and youngercontemporaries--and was much sought for in matters of consultation. a few families, united to him by bonds offriendship, he still attended when they required the services of a physician.the pontelliers were among these. mr. pontellier found the doctor reading atthe open window of his study. his house stood rather far back from thestreet, in the center of a delightful garden, so that it was quiet and peacefulat the old gentleman's study window.

he was a great reader. he stared up disapprovingly over his eye-glasses as mr. pontellier entered, wondering who had the temerity to disturbhim at that hour of the morning. "ah, pontellier! not sick, i hope.come and have a seat. what news do you bring this morning?" he was quite portly, with a profusion ofgray hair, and small blue eyes which age had robbed of much of their brightness butnone of their penetration. "oh! i'm never sick, doctor.

you know that i come of tough fiber--ofthat old creole race of pontelliers that dry up and finally blow away.i came to consult--no, not precisely to consult--to talk to you about edna. i don't know what ails her.""madame pontellier not well," marveled the doctor. "why, i saw her--i think it was a week ago--walking along canal street, the picture of health, it seemed to me." "yes, yes; she seems quite well," said mr.pontellier, leaning forward and whirling his stick between his two hands; "but shedoesn't act well.

she's odd, she's not like herself. i can't make her out, and i thought perhapsyou'd help me." "how does she act?" inquired the doctor. "well, it isn't easy to explain," said mr.pontellier, throwing himself back in his chair."she lets the housekeeping go to the dickens." "well, well; women are not all alike, mydear pontellier. we've got to consider--""i know that; i told you i couldn't explain.

her whole attitude--toward me and everybodyand everything--has changed. you know i have a quick temper, but i don'twant to quarrel or be rude to a woman, especially my wife; yet i'm driven to it,and feel like ten thousand devils after i've made a fool of myself. she's making it devilishly uncomfortablefor me," he went on nervously. "she's got some sort of notion in her headconcerning the eternal rights of women; and--you understand--we meet in the morningat the breakfast table." the old gentleman lifted his shaggyeyebrows, protruded his thick nether lip, and tapped the arms of his chair with hiscushioned fingertips.

"what have you been doing to her,pontellier?" "doing!parbleu!" "has she," asked the doctor, with a smile,"has she been associating of late with a circle of pseudo-intellectual women--super-spiritual superior beings? my wife has been telling me about them." "that's the trouble," broke in mr.pontellier, "she hasn't been associating with any one. she has abandoned her tuesdays at home, hasthrown over all her acquaintances, and goes tramping about by herself, moping in thestreet-cars, getting in after dark.

i tell you she's peculiar. i don't like it; i feel a little worriedover it." this was a new aspect for the doctor."nothing hereditary?" he asked, seriously. "nothing peculiar about her familyantecedents, is there?" "oh, no, indeed!she comes of sound old presbyterian kentucky stock. the old gentleman, her father, i haveheard, used to atone for his weekday sins with his sunday devotions. i know for a fact, that his race horsesliterally ran away with the prettiest bit

of kentucky farming land i ever laid eyesupon. margaret--you know margaret--she has allthe presbyterianism undiluted. and the youngest is something of a the way, she gets married in a couple of weeks from now." "send your wife up to the wedding,"exclaimed the doctor, foreseeing a happy solution."let her stay among her own people for a while; it will do her good." "that's what i want her to do.she won't go to the marriage. she says a wedding is one of the mostlamentable spectacles on earth.

nice thing for a woman to say to herhusband!" exclaimed mr. pontellier, fuming anew at the recollection. "pontellier," said the doctor, after amoment's reflection, "let your wife alone for a while.don't bother her, and don't let her bother you. woman, my dear friend, is a very peculiarand delicate organism--a sensitive and highly organized woman, such as i know mrs.pontellier to be, is especially peculiar. it would require an inspired psychologistto deal successfully with them. and when ordinary fellows like you and meattempt to cope with their idiosyncrasies

the result is bungling. most women are moody and whimsical.this is some passing whim of your wife, due to some cause or causes which you and ineedn't try to fathom. but it will pass happily over, especiallyif you let her alone. send her around to see me.""oh! i couldn't do that; there'd be no reason for it," objected mr. pontellier. "then i'll go around and see her," said thedoctor. "i'll drop in to dinner some evening en bonami. "do! by all means," urged mr. pontellier.

"what evening will you come?say thursday. will you come thursday?" he asked, risingto take his leave. "very well; thursday. my wife may possibly have some engagementfor me thursday. in case she has, i shall let you know.otherwise, you may expect me." mr. pontellier turned before leaving tosay: "i am going to new york on business verysoon. i have a big scheme on hand, and want to beon the field proper to pull the ropes and handle the ribbons.we'll let you in on the inside if you say

so, doctor," he laughed. "no, i thank you, my dear sir," returnedthe doctor. "i leave such ventures to you younger menwith the fever of life still in your blood." "what i wanted to say," continued mr.pontellier, with his hand on the knob; "i may have to be absent a good while.would you advise me to take edna along?" "by all means, if she wishes to go. if not, leave her here.don't contradict her. the mood will pass, i assure you.

it may take a month, two, three months--possibly longer, but it will pass; have patience.""well, good-by, a jeudi," said mr. pontellier, as he let himself out. the doctor would have liked during thecourse of conversation to ask, "is there any man in the case?" but he knew hiscreole too well to make such a blunder as that. he did not resume his book immediately, butsat for a while meditatively looking out into the garden. chapter xxiii

edna's father was in the city, and had beenwith them several days. she was not very warmly or deeply attachedto him, but they had certain tastes in common, and when together they werecompanionable. his coming was in the nature of a welcomedisturbance; it seemed to furnish a new direction for her emotions. he had come to purchase a wedding gift forhis daughter, janet, and an outfit for himself in which he might make a creditableappearance at her marriage. mr. pontellier had selected the bridalgift, as every one immediately connected with him always deferred to his taste insuch matters.

and his suggestions on the question ofdress--which too often assumes the nature of a problem--were of inestimable value tohis father-in-law. but for the past few days the old gentlemanhad been upon edna's hands, and in his society she was becoming acquainted with anew set of sensations. he had been a colonel in the confederatearmy, and still maintained, with the title, the military bearing which had alwaysaccompanied it. his hair and mustache were white and silky,emphasizing the rugged bronze of his face. he was tall and thin, and wore his coatspadded, which gave a fictitious breadth and depth to his shoulders and chest.

edna and her father looked verydistinguished together, and excited a good deal of notice during their perambulations. upon his arrival she began by introducinghim to her atelier and making a sketch of him.he took the whole matter very seriously. if her talent had been ten-fold greaterthan it was, it would not have surprised him, convinced as he was that he hadbequeathed to all of his daughters the germs of a masterful capability, which only depended upon their own efforts to bedirected toward successful achievement. before her pencil he sat rigid andunflinching, as he had faced the cannon's

mouth in days gone by. he resented the intrusion of the children,who gaped with wondering eyes at him, sitting so stiff up there in their mother'sbright atelier. when they drew near he motioned them awaywith an expressive action of the foot, loath to disturb the fixed lines of hiscountenance, his arms, or his rigid shoulders. edna, anxious to entertain him, invitedmademoiselle reisz to meet him, having promised him a treat in her piano playing;but mademoiselle declined the invitation. so together they attended a soiree musicaleat the ratignolles'.

monsieur and madame ratignolle made much ofthe colonel, installing him as the guest of honor and engaging him at once to dine withthem the following sunday, or any day which he might select. madame coquetted with him in the mostcaptivating and naive manner, with eyes, gestures, and a profusion of compliments,till the colonel's old head felt thirty years younger on his padded shoulders. edna marveled, not comprehending.she herself was almost devoid of coquetry. there were one or two men whom she observedat the soiree musicale; but she would never have felt moved to any kittenish display toattract their notice--to any feline or

feminine wiles to express herself towardthem. their personality attracted her in anagreeable way. her fancy selected them, and she was gladwhen a lull in the music gave them an opportunity to meet her and talk with her. often on the street the glance of strangeeyes had lingered in her memory, and sometimes had disturbed pontellier did not attend these soirees musicales. he considered them bourgeois, and foundmore diversion at the club. to madame ratignolle he said the musicdispensed at her soirees was too "heavy,"

too far beyond his untrained comprehension. his excuse flattered her.but she disapproved of mr. pontellier's club, and she was frank enough to tell ednaso. "it's a pity mr. pontellier doesn't stayhome more in the evenings. i think you would be more--well, if youdon't mind my saying it--more united, if he did." "oh! dear no!" said edna, with a blank lookin her eyes. "what should i do if he stayed home?we wouldn't have anything to say to each other."

she had not much of anything to say to herfather, for that matter; but he did not antagonize her. she discovered that he interested her,though she realized that he might not interest her long; and for the first timein her life she felt as if she were thoroughly acquainted with him. he kept her busy serving him andministering to his wants. it amused her to do so. she would not permit a servant or one ofthe children to do anything for him which she might do herself.

her husband noticed, and thought it was theexpression of a deep filial attachment which he had never suspected. the colonel drank numerous "toddies" duringthe course of the day, which left him, however, imperturbed.he was an expert at concocting strong drinks. he had even invented some, to which he hadgiven fantastic names, and for whose manufacture he required diverse ingredientsthat it devolved upon edna to procure for him. when doctor mandelet dined with thepontelliers on thursday he could discern in

mrs. pontellier no trace of that morbidcondition which her husband had reported to she was excited and in a manner radiant. she and her father had been to the racecourse, and their thoughts when they seated themselves at table were still occupiedwith the events of the afternoon, and their talk was still of the track. the doctor had not kept pace with turfaffairs. he had certain recollections of racing inwhat he called "the good old times" when the lecompte stables flourished, and hedrew upon this fund of memories so that he might not be left out and seem whollydevoid of the modern spirit.

but he failed to impose upon the colonel,and was even far from impressing him with this trumped-up knowledge of bygone days. edna had staked her father on his lastventure, with the most gratifying results to both of them. besides, they had met some very charmingpeople, according to the colonel's impressions. mrs. mortimer merriman and mrs. jameshighcamp, who were there with alcee arobin, had joined them and had enlivened the hoursin a fashion that warmed him to think of. mr. pontellier himself had no particularleaning toward horseracing, and was even

rather inclined to discourage it as apastime, especially when he considered the fate of that blue-grass farm in kentucky. he endeavored, in a general way, to expressa particular disapproval, and only succeeded in arousing the ire andopposition of his father-in-law. a pretty dispute followed, in which ednawarmly espoused her father's cause and the doctor remained neutral. he observed his hostess attentively fromunder his shaggy brows, and noted a subtle change which had transformed her from thelistless woman he had known into a being who, for the moment, seemed palpitant withthe forces of life.

her speech was warm and energetic.there was no repression in her glance or gesture. she reminded him of some beautiful, sleekanimal waking up in the sun. the dinner was excellent. the claret was warm and the champagne wascold, and under their beneficent influence the threatened unpleasantness melted andvanished with the fumes of the wine. mr. pontellier warmed up and grewreminiscent. he told some amusing plantationexperiences, recollections of old iberville and his youth, when he hunted 'possum incompany with some friendly darky; thrashed

the pecan trees, shot the grosbec, and roamed the woods and fields in mischievousidleness. the colonel, with little sense of humor andof the fitness of things, related a somber episode of those dark and bitter days, inwhich he had acted a conspicuous part and always formed a central figure. nor was the doctor happier in hisselection, when he told the old, ever new and curious story of the waning of awoman's love, seeking strange, new channels, only to return to its legitimatesource after days of fierce unrest. it was one of the many little humandocuments which had been unfolded to him

during his long career as a physician. the story did not seem especially toimpress edna. she had one of her own to tell, of a womanwho paddled away with her lover one night in a pirogue and never came back. they were lost amid the baratarian islands,and no one ever heard of them or found trace of them from that day to was a pure invention. she said that madame antoine had related itto her. that, also, was an invention.perhaps it was a dream she had had. but every glowing word seemed real to thosewho listened.

they could feel the hot breath of thesouthern night; they could hear the long sweep of the pirogue through the glisteningmoonlit water, the beating of birds' wings, rising startled from among the reeds in the salt-water pools; they could see the facesof the lovers, pale, close together, rapt in oblivious forgetfulness, drifting intothe unknown. the champagne was cold, and its subtlefumes played fantastic tricks with edna's memory that night. outside, away from the glow of the fire andthe soft lamplight, the night was chill and murky.

the doctor doubled his old-fashioned cloakacross his breast as he strode home through the darkness. he knew his fellow-creatures better thanmost men; knew that inner life which so seldom unfolds itself to unanointed eyes.he was sorry he had accepted pontellier's invitation. he was growing old, and beginning to needrest and an imperturbed spirit. he did not want the secrets of other livesthrust upon him. "i hope it isn't arobin," he muttered tohimself as he walked. "i hope to heaven it isn't alcee arobin."

chapter xxiv edna and her father had a warm, and almostviolent dispute upon the subject of her refusal to attend her sister's wedding. mr. pontellier declined to interfere, tointerpose either his influence or his authority.he was following doctor mandelet's advice, and letting her do as she liked. the colonel reproached his daughter for herlack of filial kindness and respect, her want of sisterly affection and womanlyconsideration. his arguments were labored andunconvincing.

he doubted if janet would accept anyexcuse--forgetting that edna had offered none. he doubted if janet would ever speak to heragain, and he was sure margaret would not. edna was glad to be rid of her father whenhe finally took himself off with his wedding garments and his bridal gifts, withhis padded shoulders, his bible reading, his "toddies" and ponderous oaths. mr. pontellier followed him closely. he meant to stop at the wedding on his wayto new york and endeavor by every means which money and love could devise to atonesomewhat for edna's incomprehensible

action. "you are too lenient, too lenient by far,leonce," asserted the colonel. "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 colonel was perhaps unaware that he had coerced his own wife into her grave. mr. pontellier had a vague suspicion of itwhich he thought it needless to mention at that late day. edna was not so consciously gratified ather husband's leaving home as she had been

over the departure of her father. as the day approached when he was to leaveher for a comparatively long stay, she grew melting and affectionate, remembering hismany acts of consideration and his repeated expressions of an ardent attachment. she was solicitous about his health and hiswelfare. she bustled around, looking after hisclothing, thinking about heavy underwear, quite as madame ratignolle would have doneunder similar circumstances. she cried when he went away, calling himher dear, good friend, and she was quite certain she would grow lonely before verylong and go to join him in new york.

but after all, a radiant peace settled uponher when she at last found herself alone. even the children were gone. old madame pontellier had come herself andcarried them off to iberville with their quadroon. the old madame did not venture to say shewas afraid they would be neglected during leonce's absence; she hardly ventured tothink so. she was hungry for them--even a littlefierce in her attachment. she did not want them to be wholly"children of the pavement," she always said when begging to have them for a space.

she wished them to know the country, withits streams, its fields, its woods, its freedom, so delicious to the young. she wished them to taste something of thelife their father had lived and known and loved when he, too, was a little child.when edna was at last alone, she breathed a big, genuine sigh of relief. a feeling that was unfamiliar but verydelicious came over her. she walked all through the house, from oneroom to another, as if inspecting it for the first time. she tried the various chairs and lounges,as if she had never sat and reclined upon

them before. and she perambulated around the outside ofthe house, investigating, looking to see if windows and shutters were secure and inorder. the flowers were like new acquaintances;she approached them in a familiar spirit, and made herself at home among them. the garden walks were damp, and edna calledto the maid to bring out her rubber sandals. and there she stayed, and stooped, diggingaround the plants, trimming, picking dead, dry leaves.the children's little dog came out,

interfering, getting in her way. she scolded him, laughed at him, playedwith him. the garden smelled so good and looked sopretty in the afternoon sunlight. edna plucked all the bright flowers shecould find, and went into the house with them, she and the little dog. even the kitchen assumed a suddeninteresting character which she had never before perceived. she went in to give directions to the cook,to say that the butcher would have to bring much less meat, that they would requireonly half their usual quantity of bread, of

milk and groceries. she told the cook that she herself would begreatly occupied during mr. pontellier's absence, and she begged her to take allthought and responsibility of the larder upon her own shoulders. that night edna dined alone.the candelabra, with a few candles in the center of the table, gave all the light sheneeded. outside the circle of light in which shesat, the large dining-room looked solemn and shadowy. the cook, placed upon her mettle, served adelicious repast--a luscious tenderloin

broiled a point.the wine tasted good; the marron glace seemed to be just what she wanted. it was so pleasant, too, to dine in acomfortable peignoir. she thought a little sentimentally aboutleonce and the children, and wondered what they were doing. as she gave a dainty scrap or two to thedoggie, she talked intimately to him about etienne and raoul. he was beside himself with astonishment anddelight over these companionable advances, and showed his appreciation by his littlequick, snappy barks and a lively agitation.

then edna sat in the library after dinnerand read emerson until she grew sleepy. she realized that she had neglected herreading, and determined to start anew upon a course of improving studies, now that hertime was completely her own to do with as she liked. after a refreshing bath, edna went to bed.and as she snuggled comfortably beneath the eiderdown a sense of restfulness invadedher, such as she had not known before. chapter xxv when the weather was dark and cloudy ednacould not work. she needed the sun to mellow and temper hermood to the sticking point.

she had reached a stage when she seemed tobe no longer feeling her way, working, when in the humor, with sureness and ease. and being devoid of ambition, and strivingnot toward accomplishment, she drew satisfaction from the work in itself. on rainy or melancholy days edna went outand sought the society of the friends she had made at grand isle. or else she stayed indoors and nursed amood with which she was becoming too familiar for her own comfort and peace ofmind. it was not despair; but it seemed to her asif life were passing by, leaving its

promise broken and unfulfilled. yet there were other days when shelistened, was led on and deceived by fresh promises which her youth held out to her.she went again to the races, and again. alcee arobin and mrs. highcamp called forher one bright afternoon in arobin's drag. mrs. highcamp was a worldly but unaffected,intelligent, slim, tall blonde woman in the forties, with an indifferent manner andblue eyes that stared. she had a daughter who served her as apretext for cultivating the society of young men of fashion.alcee arobin was one of them. he was a familiar figure at the racecourse, the opera, the fashionable clubs.

there was a perpetual smile in his eyes,which seldom failed to awaken a corresponding cheerfulness in any one wholooked into them and listened to his good- humored voice. his manner was quiet, and at times a littleinsolent. he possessed a good figure, a pleasingface, not overburdened with depth of thought or feeling; and his dress was thatof the conventional man of fashion. he admired edna extravagantly, aftermeeting her at the races with her father. he had met her before on other occasions,but she had seemed to him unapproachable until that day.

it was at his instigation that mrs.highcamp called to ask her to go with them to the jockey club to witness the turfevent of the season. there were possibly a few track men outthere who knew the race horse as well as edna, but there was certainly none who knewit better. she sat between her two companions as onehaving authority to speak. she laughed at arobin's pretensions, anddeplored mrs. highcamp's ignorance. the race horse was a friend and intimateassociate of her childhood. the atmosphere of the stables and thebreath of the blue grass paddock revived in her memory and lingered in her nostrils.

she did not perceive that she was talkinglike her father as the sleek geldings ambled in review before them.she played for very high stakes, and fortune favored her. the fever of the game flamed in her cheeksand eyes, and it got into her blood and into her brain like an intoxicant. people turned their heads to look at her,and more than one lent an attentive ear to her utterances, hoping thereby to securethe elusive but ever-desired "tip." arobin caught the contagion of excitementwhich drew him to edna like a magnet. mrs. highcamp remained, as usual, unmoved,with her indifferent stare and uplifted

eyebrows. edna stayed and dined with mrs. highcampupon being urged to do so. arobin also remained and sent away hisdrag. the dinner was quiet and uninteresting,save for the cheerful efforts of arobin to enliven things. mrs. highcamp deplored the absence of herdaughter from the races, and tried to convey to her what she had missed by goingto the "dante reading" instead of joining them. the girl held a geranium leaf up to hernose and said nothing, but looked knowing

and highcamp was a plain, bald-headed man, who only talked under compulsion. he was unresponsive.mrs. highcamp was full of delicate courtesy and consideration toward her husband.she addressed most of her conversation to him at table. they sat in the library after dinner andread the evening papers together under the droplight; while the younger people wentinto the drawing-room near by and talked. miss highcamp played some selections fromgrieg upon the piano. she seemed to have apprehended all of thecomposer's coldness and none of his poetry.

while edna listened she could not helpwondering if she had lost her taste for music. when the time came for her to go home, mr.highcamp grunted a lame offer to escort her, looking down at his slippered feetwith tactless concern. it was arobin who took her home. the car ride was long, and it was late whenthey reached esplanade street. arobin asked permission to enter for asecond to light his cigarette--his match safe was empty. he filled his match safe, but did not lighthis cigarette until he left her, after she

had expressed her willingness to go to theraces with him again. edna was neither tired nor sleepy. she was hungry again, for the highcampdinner, though of excellent quality, had lacked abundance.she rummaged in the larder and brought forth a slice of gruyere and some crackers. she opened a bottle of beer which she foundin the icebox. edna felt extremely restless and excited. she vacantly hummed a fantastic tune as shepoked at the wood embers on the hearth and munched a cracker.she wanted something to happen--something,

anything; she did not know what. she regretted that she had not made arobinstay a half hour to talk over the horses with her.she counted the money she had won. but there was nothing else to do, so shewent to bed, and tossed there for hours in a sort of monotonous agitation. in the middle of the night she rememberedthat she had forgotten to write her regular letter to her husband; and she decided todo so next day and tell him about her afternoon at the jockey club. she lay wide awake composing a letter whichwas nothing like the one which she wrote

next day. when the maid awoke her in the morning ednawas dreaming of mr. highcamp playing the piano at the entrance of a music store oncanal street, while his wife was saying to alcee arobin, as they boarded an esplanadestreet car: "what a pity that so much talent has beenneglected! but i must go." when, a few days later, alcee arobin againcalled for edna in his drag, mrs. highcamp was not with him.he said they would pick her up. but as that lady had not been apprised ofhis intention of picking her up, she was not at home.

the daughter was just leaving the house toattend the meeting of a branch folk lore society, and regretted that she could notaccompany them. arobin appeared nonplused, and asked ednaif there were any one else she cared to ask. she did not deem it worth while to go insearch of any of the fashionable acquaintances from whom she had withdrawnherself. she thought of madame ratignolle, but knewthat her fair friend did not leave the house, except to take a languid walk aroundthe block with her husband after nightfall. mademoiselle reisz would have laughed atsuch a request from edna.

madame lebrun might have enjoyed theouting, but for some reason edna did not want her. so they went alone, she and arobin.the afternoon was intensely interesting to her.the excitement came back upon her like a remittent fever. her talk grew familiar and was no labor to become intimate with arobin.his manner invited easy confidence. the preliminary stage of becomingacquainted was one which he always endeavored to ignore when a pretty andengaging woman was concerned.

he stayed and dined with edna. he stayed and sat beside the wood fire.they laughed and talked; and before it was time to go he was telling her how differentlife might have been if he had known her years before. with ingenuous frankness he spoke of what awicked, ill-disciplined boy he had been, and impulsively drew up his cuff to exhibitupon his wrist the scar from a saber cut which he had received in a duel outside ofparis when he was nineteen. she touched his hand as she scanned the redcicatrice on the inside of his white wrist. a quick impulse that was somewhat spasmodicimpelled her fingers to close in a sort of

clutch upon his hand.he felt the pressure of her pointed nails in the flesh of his palm. she arose hastily and walked toward themantel. "the sight of a wound or scar alwaysagitates and sickens me," she said. "i shouldn't have looked at it." "i beg your pardon," he entreated,following her; "it never occurred to me that it might be repulsive." he stood close to her, and the effronteryin his eyes repelled the old, vanishing self in her, yet drew all her awakeningsensuousness.

he saw enough in her face to impel him totake her hand and hold it while he said his lingering good night."will you go to the races again?" he asked. "no," she said. "i've had enough of the races.i don't want to lose all the money i've won, and i've got to work when the weatheris bright, instead of--" "yes; work; to be sure. you promised to show me your work.what morning may i come up to your atelier? to-morrow?""no!" "day after?"

"no, no.""oh, please don't refuse me! i know something of such things.i might help you with a stray suggestion or two." "no. good night.why don't you go after you have said good night? i don't like you," she went on in a high,excited pitch, attempting to draw away her hand.she felt that her words lacked dignity and sincerity, and she knew that he felt it. "i'm sorry you don't like me.i'm sorry i offended you.

how have i offended you?what have i done? can't you forgive me?" and he bent and pressed his lips upon herhand as if he wished never more to withdraw "mr. arobin," she complained, "i'm greatlyupset by the excitement of the afternoon; i'm not manner must have misled you in some way. i wish you to go, please." she spoke in a monotonous, dull tone.he took his hat from the table, and stood with eyes turned from her, looking into thedying fire. for a moment or two he kept an impressivesilence.

"your manner has not misled me, mrs.pontellier," he said finally. "my own emotions have done that. i couldn't help it.when i'm near you, how could i help it? don't think anything of it, don't bother,please. you see, i go when you command me. if you wish me to stay away, i shall do so.if you let me come back, i--oh! you will let me come back?"he cast one appealing glance at her, to which she made no response. alcee arobin's manner was so genuine thatit often deceived even himself.

edna did not care or think whether it weregenuine or not. when she was alone she looked mechanicallyat the back of her hand which he had kissed so warmly.then she leaned her head down on the mantelpiece. she felt somewhat like a woman who in amoment of passion is betrayed into an act of infidelity, and realizes thesignificance of the act without being wholly awakened from its glamour. the thought was passing vaguely through hermind, "what would he think?" she did not mean her husband; she wasthinking of robert lebrun.

her husband seemed to her now like a personwhom she had married without love as an excuse.she lit a candle and went up to her room. alcee arobin was absolutely nothing to her. yet his presence, his manners, the warmthof his glances, and above all the touch of his lips upon her hand had acted like anarcotic upon her. she slept a languorous sleep, interwovenwith vanishing dreams. > part 6: chapter xxvi alcee arobin wrote edna an elaborate noteof apology, palpitant with sincerity.

it embarrassed her; for in a cooler,quieter moment it appeared to her, absurd that she should have taken his action soseriously, so dramatically. she felt sure that the significance of thewhole occurrence had lain in her own self- consciousness.if she ignored his note it would give undue importance to a trivial affair. if she replied to it in a serious spirit itwould still leave in his mind the impression that she had in a susceptiblemoment yielded to his influence. after all, it was no great matter to haveone's hand kissed. she was provoked at his having written theapology.

she answered in as light and bantering aspirit as she fancied it deserved, and said she would be glad to have him look in uponher at work whenever he felt the inclination and his business gave him theopportunity. he responded at once by presenting himselfat her home with all his disarming naivete. and then there was scarcely a day whichfollowed that she did not see him or was not reminded of him.he was prolific in pretexts. his attitude became one of good-humoredsubservience and tacit adoration. he was ready at all times to submit to hermoods, which were as often kind as they were cold.

she grew accustomed to him.they became intimate and friendly by imperceptible degrees, and then by leaps. he sometimes talked in a way thatastonished her at first and brought the crimson into her face; in a way thatpleased her at last, appealing to the animalism that stirred impatiently withinher. there was nothing which so quieted theturmoil of edna's senses as a visit to mademoiselle reisz. it was then, in the presence of thatpersonality which was offensive to her, that the woman, by her divine art, seemedto reach edna's spirit and set it free.

it was misty, with heavy, loweringatmosphere, one afternoon, when edna climbed the stairs to the pianist'sapartments under the roof. her clothes were dripping with moisture. she felt chilled and pinched as she enteredthe room. mademoiselle was poking at a rusty stovethat smoked a little and warmed the room indifferently. she was endeavoring to heat a pot ofchocolate on the stove. the room looked cheerless and dingy to ednaas she entered. a bust of beethoven, covered with a hood ofdust, scowled at her from the mantelpiece.

"ah! here comes the sunlight!" exclaimedmademoiselle, rising from her knees before the stove. "now it will be warm and bright enough; ican let the fire alone." she closed the stove door with a bang, andapproaching, assisted in removing edna's dripping mackintosh. "you are cold; you look miserable.the chocolate will soon be hot. but would you rather have a taste ofbrandy? i have scarcely touched the bottle whichyou brought me for my cold." a piece of red flannel was wrapped aroundmademoiselle's throat; a stiff neck

compelled her to hold her head on one side. "i will take some brandy," said edna,shivering as she removed her gloves and overshoes.she drank the liquor from the glass as a man would have done. then flinging herself upon theuncomfortable sofa she said, "mademoiselle, i am going to move away from my house onesplanade street." "ah!" ejaculated the musician, neithersurprised nor especially interested. nothing ever seemed to astonish her verymuch. she was endeavoring to adjust the bunch ofviolets which had become loose from its

fastening in her hair. edna drew her down upon the sofa, andtaking a pin from her own hair, secured the shabby artificial flowers in theiraccustomed place. "aren't you astonished?" "passably.where are you going? to new york? to iberville? to your father in mississippi?where?" "just two steps away," laughed edna, "in alittle four-room house around the corner. it looks so cozy, so inviting and restful,whenever i pass by; and it's for rent. i'm tired looking after that big house.

it never seemed like mine, anyway--likehome. it's too much trouble.i have to keep too many servants. i am tired bothering with them." "that is not your true reason, ma belle.there is no use in telling me lies. i don't know your reason, but you have nottold me the truth." edna did not protest or endeavor to justifyherself. "the house, the money that provides for it,are not mine. isn't that enough reason?" "they are your husband's," returnedmademoiselle, with a shrug and a malicious

elevation of the eyebrows."oh! i see there is no deceiving you. then let me tell you: it is a caprice. i have a little money of my own from mymother's estate, which my father sends me by driblets.i won a large sum this winter on the races, and i am beginning to sell my sketches. laidpore is more and more pleased with mywork; he says it grows in force and individuality.i cannot judge of that myself, but i feel that i have gained in ease and confidence. however, as i said, i have sold a good manythrough laidpore.

i can live in the tiny house for little ornothing, with one servant. old celestine, who works occasionally forme, says she will come stay with me and do my work.i know i shall like it, like the feeling of freedom and independence." "what does your husband say?""i have not told him yet. i only thought of it this morning.he will think i am demented, no doubt. perhaps you think so." mademoiselle shook her head slowly."your reason is not yet clear to me," she said.

neither was it quite clear to edna herself;but it unfolded itself as she sat for a while in silence. instinct had prompted her to put away herhusband's bounty in casting off her allegiance.she did not know how it would be when he returned. there would have to be an understanding, anexplanation. conditions would some way adjustthemselves, she felt; but whatever came, she had resolved never again to belong toanother than herself. "i shall give a grand dinner before i leavethe old house!"

edna exclaimed."you will have to come to it, mademoiselle. i will give you everything that you like toeat and to drink. we shall sing and laugh and be merry foronce." and she uttered a sigh that came from thevery depths of her being. if mademoiselle happened to have received aletter from robert during the interval of edna's visits, she would give her theletter unsolicited. and she would seat herself at the piano andplay as her humor prompted her while the young woman read the letter. the little stove was roaring; it was red-hot, and the chocolate in the tin sizzled

and sputtered. edna went forward and opened the stovedoor, and mademoiselle rising, took a letter from under the bust of beethoven andhanded it to edna. "another! so soon!" she exclaimed, her eyesfilled with delight. "tell me, mademoiselle, does he know that isee his letters?" "never in the world! he would be angry and would never write tome again if he thought so. does he write to you?never a line. does he send you a message?

never a is because he loves you, poor fool, and is trying to forget you, since you are notfree to listen to him or to belong to him." "why do you show me his letters, then?" "haven't you begged for them?can i refuse you anything? oh! you cannot deceive me," andmademoiselle approached her beloved instrument and began to play. edna did not at once read the letter.she sat holding it in her hand, while the music penetrated her whole being like aneffulgence, warming and brightening the dark places of her soul.

it prepared her for joy and exultation."oh!" she exclaimed, letting the letter fall to the floor."why did you not tell me?" she went and grasped mademoiselle's handsup from the keys. "oh! unkind! malicious!why did you not tell me?" "that he was coming back? no great news, ma foi.i wonder he did not come long ago." "but when, when?" cried edna, impatiently."he does not say when." "he says 'very soon.' you know as much about it as i do; it isall in the letter."

"but why?why is he coming? oh, if i thought--" and she snatched theletter from the floor and turned the pages this way and that way, looking for thereason, which was left untold. "if i were young and in love with a man,"said mademoiselle, turning on the stool and pressing her wiry hands between her kneesas she looked down at edna, who sat on the floor holding the letter, "it seems to me he would have to be some grand esprit; aman with lofty aims and ability to reach them; one who stood high enough to attractthe notice of his fellow-men. it seems to me if i were young and in lovei should never deem a man of ordinary

caliber worthy of my devotion." "now it is you who are telling lies andseeking to deceive me, mademoiselle; or else you have never been in love, and knownothing about it. why," went on edna, clasping her knees andlooking up into mademoiselle's twisted face, "do you suppose a woman knows why sheloves? does she select? does she say to herself: 'go to!here is a distinguished statesman with presidential possibilities; i shall proceedto fall in love with him.' or, 'i shall set my heart upon thismusician, whose fame is on every tongue?'

or, 'this financier, who controls theworld's money markets?' "you are purposely misunderstanding me, mareine. are you in love with robert?""yes," said edna. it was the first time she had admitted it,and a glow overspread her face, blotching it with red spots."why?" asked her companion. "why do you love him when you ought notto?" edna, with a motion or two, dragged herselfon her knees before mademoiselle reisz, who took the glowing face between her twohands. "why? because his hair is brown and growsaway from his temples; because he opens and

shuts his eyes, and his nose is a littleout of drawing; because he has two lips and a square chin, and a little finger which he can't straighten from having playedbaseball too energetically in his youth. because--""because you do, in short," laughed mademoiselle. "what will you do when he comes back?" sheasked. "do? nothing, except feel glad and happy tobe alive." she was already glad and happy to be aliveat the mere thought of his return. the murky, lowering sky, which haddepressed her a few hours before, seemed

bracing and invigorating as she splashedthrough the streets on her way home. she stopped at a confectioner's and ordereda huge box of bonbons for the children in iberville. she slipped a card in the box, on which shescribbled a tender message and sent an abundance of kisses. before dinner in the evening edna wrote acharming letter to her husband, telling him of her intention to move for a while intothe little house around the block, and to give a farewell dinner before leaving, regretting that he was not there to shareit, to help out with the menu and assist

her in entertaining the guests.her letter was brilliant and brimming with cheerfulness. chapter xxvii "what is the matter with you?" asked arobinthat evening. "i never found you in such a happy mood."edna was tired by that time, and was reclining on the lounge before the fire. "don't you know the weather prophet hastold us we shall see the sun pretty soon?" "well, that ought to be reason enough," heacquiesced. "you wouldn't give me another if i sat hereall night imploring you."

he sat close to her on a low tabouret, andas he spoke his fingers lightly touched the hair that fell a little over her forehead. she liked the touch of his fingers throughher hair, and closed her eyes sensitively. "one of these days," she said, "i'm goingto pull myself together for a while and think--try to determine what character of awoman i am; for, candidly, i don't know. by all the codes which i am acquaintedwith, i am a devilishly wicked specimen of the sex.but some way i can't convince myself that i am. i must think about it.""don't.

what's the use? why should you bother thinking about itwhen i can tell you what manner of woman you are." his fingers strayed occasionally down toher warm, smooth cheeks and firm chin, which was growing a little full and double."oh, yes! you will tell me that i am adorable;everything that is captivating. spare yourself the effort." "no; i shan't tell you anything of thesort, though i shouldn't be lying if i did.""do you know mademoiselle reisz?" she asked

irrelevantly. "the pianist?i know her by sight. i've heard her play." "she says queer things sometimes in abantering way that you don't notice at the time and you find yourself thinking aboutafterward." "for instance?" "well, for instance, when i left her to-day, she put her arms around me and felt my shoulder blades, to see if my wings werestrong, she said. 'the bird that would soar above the levelplain of tradition and prejudice must have

strong wings. it is a sad spectacle to see the weaklingsbruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth.'whither would you soar?" "i'm not thinking of any extraordinaryflights. i only half comprehend her.""i've heard she's partially demented," said arobin. "she seems to me wonderfully sane," ednareplied. "i'm told she's extremely disagreeable andunpleasant. why have you introduced her at a momentwhen i desired to talk of you?"

"oh! talk of me if you like," cried edna,clasping her hands beneath her head; "but let me think of something else while youdo." "i'm jealous of your thoughts tonight. they're making you a little kinder thanusual; but some way i feel as if they were wandering, as if they were not here withme." she only looked at him and smiled. his eyes were very near.he leaned upon the lounge with an arm extended across her, while the other handstill rested upon her hair. they continued silently to look into eachother's eyes.

when he leaned forward and kissed her, sheclasped his head, holding his lips to hers. it was the first kiss of her life to whichher nature had really responded. it was a flaming torch that kindled desire. chapter xxviii edna cried a little that night after arobinleft her. it was only one phase of the multitudinousemotions which had assailed her. there was with her an overwhelming feelingof irresponsibility. there was the shock of the unexpected andthe unaccustomed. there was her husband's reproach looking ather from the external things around her

which he had provided for her externalexistence. there was robert's reproach making itselffelt by a quicker, fiercer, more overpowering love, which had awakenedwithin her toward him. above all, there was understanding. she felt as if a mist had been lifted fromher eyes, enabling her to took upon and comprehend the significance of life, thatmonster made up of beauty and brutality. but among the conflicting sensations whichassailed her, there was neither shame nor remorse. there was a dull pang of regret because itwas not the kiss of love which had inflamed

her, because it was not love which had heldthis cup of life to her lips. chapter xxix without even waiting for an answer from herhusband regarding his opinion or wishes in the matter, edna hastened her preparationsfor quitting her home on esplanade street and moving into the little house around theblock. a feverish anxiety attended her everyaction in that direction. there was no moment of deliberation, nointerval of repose between the thought and its fulfillment. early upon the morning following thosehours passed in arobin's society, edna set

about securing her new abode and hurryingher arrangements for occupying it. within the precincts of her home she feltlike one who has entered and lingered within the portals of some forbidden templein which a thousand muffled voices bade her begone. whatever was her own in the house,everything which she had acquired aside from her husband's bounty, she caused to betransported to the other house, supplying simple and meager deficiencies from her ownresources. arobin found her with rolled sleeves,working in company with the house-maid when he looked in during the afternoon.

she was splendid and robust, and had neverappeared handsomer than in the old blue gown, with a red silk handkerchief knottedat random around her head to protect her hair from the dust. she was mounted upon a high stepladder,unhooking a picture from the wall when he entered. he had found the front door open, and hadfollowed his ring by walking in unceremoniously."come down!" he said. "do you want to kill yourself?" she greeted him with affected carelessness,and appeared absorbed in her occupation.

if he had expected to find her languishing,reproachful, or indulging in sentimental tears, he must have been greatly surprised. he was no doubt prepared for any emergency,ready for any one of the foregoing attitudes, just as he bent himself easilyand naturally to the situation which confronted him. "please come down," he insisted, holdingthe ladder and looking up at her. "no," she answered; "ellen is afraid tomount the ladder. joe is working over at the 'pigeon house'--that's the name ellen gives it, because it's so small and looks like a pigeonhouse--and some one has to do this."

arobin pulled off his coat, and expressedhimself ready and willing to tempt fate in her place. ellen brought him one of her dust-caps, andwent into contortions of mirth, which she found it impossible to control, when shesaw him put it on before the mirror as grotesquely as he could. edna herself could not refrain from smilingwhen she fastened it at his request. so it was he who in turn mounted theladder, unhooking pictures and curtains, and dislodging ornaments as edna directed. when he had finished he took off his dust-cap and went out to wash his hands.

edna was sitting on the tabouret, idlybrushing the tips of a feather duster along the carpet when he came in again. "is there anything more you will let medo?" he asked. "that is all," she answered."ellen can manage the rest." she kept the young woman occupied in thedrawing-room, unwilling to be left alone with arobin."what about the dinner?" he asked; "the grand event, the coup d'etat?" "it will be day after to-morrow.why do you call it the 'coup d'etat?' oh! it will be very fine; all my best ofeverything--crystal, silver and gold,

sevres, flowers, music, and champagne toswim in. i'll let leonce pay the bills. i wonder what he'll say when he sees thebills. "and you ask me why i call it a coupd'etat?" arobin had put on his coat, and he stoodbefore her and asked if his cravat was plumb.she told him it was, looking no higher than the tip of his collar. "when do you go to the 'pigeon house?'--with all due acknowledgment to ellen." "day after to-morrow, after the dinner.i shall sleep there."

"ellen, will you very kindly get me a glassof water?" asked arobin. "the dust in the curtains, if you willpardon me for hinting such a thing, has parched my throat to a crisp." "while ellen gets the water," said edna,rising, "i will say good-by and let you go. i must get rid of this grime, and i have amillion things to do and think of." "when shall i see you?" asked arobin,seeking to detain her, the maid having left the room."at the dinner, of course. you are invited." "not before?--not to-night or to-morrowmorning or tomorrow noon or night? or the

day after morning or noon?can't you see yourself, without my telling you, what an eternity it is?" he had followed her into the hall and tothe foot of the stairway, looking up at her as she mounted with her face half turned tohim. "not an instant sooner," she said. but she laughed and looked at him with eyesthat at once gave him courage to wait and made it torture to wait. chapter xxx though edna had spoken of the dinner as avery grand affair, it was in truth a very

small affair and very select, in so much asthe guests invited were few and were selected with discrimination. she had counted upon an even dozen seatingthemselves at her round mahogany board, forgetting for the moment that madameratignolle was to the last degree souffrante and unpresentable, and not foreseeing that madame lebrun would send athousand regrets at the last moment. so there were only ten, after all, whichmade a cozy, comfortable number. there were mr. and mrs. merriman, a pretty,vivacious little woman in the thirties; her husband, a jovial fellow, something of ashallow-pate, who laughed a good deal at

other people's witticisms, and had therebymade himself extremely popular. mrs. highcamp had accompanied them.of course, there was alcee arobin; and mademoiselle reisz had consented to come. edna had sent her a fresh bunch of violetswith black lace trimmings for her hair. monsieur ratignolle brought himself and hiswife's excuses. victor lebrun, who happened to be in thecity, bent upon relaxation, had accepted with alacrity. there was a miss mayblunt, no longer in herteens, who looked at the world through lorgnettes and with the keenest interest.

it was thought and said that she wasintellectual; it was suspected of her that she wrote under a nom de guerre. she had come with a gentleman by the nameof gouvernail, connected with one of the daily papers, of whom nothing special couldbe said, except that he was observant and seemed quiet and inoffensive. edna herself made the tenth, and at half-past eight they seated themselves at table, arobin and monsieur ratignolle on eitherside of their hostess. mrs. highcamp sat between arobin and victorlebrun. then came mrs. merriman, mr. gouvernail,miss mayblunt, mr. merriman, and

mademoiselle reisz next to monsieurratignolle. there was something extremely gorgeousabout the appearance of the table, an effect of splendor conveyed by a cover ofpale yellow satin under strips of lace- work. there were wax candles, in massive brasscandelabra, burning softly under yellow silk shades; full, fragrant roses, yellowand red, abounded. there were silver and gold, as she had saidthere would be, and crystal which glittered like the gems which the women wore. the ordinary stiff dining chairs had beendiscarded for the occasion and replaced by

the most commodious and luxurious whichcould be collected throughout the house. mademoiselle reisz, being exceedinglydiminutive, was elevated upon cushions, as small children are sometimes hoisted attable upon bulky volumes. "something new, edna?" exclaimed missmayblunt, with lorgnette directed toward a magnificent cluster of diamonds thatsparkled, that almost sputtered, in edna's hair, just over the center of her forehead. "quite new; 'brand' new, in fact; a presentfrom my husband. it arrived this morning from new york.i may as well admit that this is my birthday, and that i am twenty-nine.

in good time i expect you to drink myhealth. meanwhile, i shall ask you to begin withthis cocktail, composed--would you say 'composed?'" with an appeal to missmayblunt--"composed by my father in honor of sister janet's wedding." before each guest stood a tiny glass thatlooked and sparkled like a garnet gem. "then, all things considered," spokearobin, "it might not be amiss to start out by drinking the colonel's health in thecocktail which he composed, on the birthday of the most charming of women--the daughterwhom he invented." mr. merriman's laugh at this sally was sucha genuine outburst and so contagious that

it started the dinner with an agreeableswing that never slackened. miss mayblunt begged to be allowed to keepher cocktail untouched before her, just to look at.the color was marvelous! she could compare it to nothing she hadever seen, and the garnet lights which it emitted were unspeakably rare.she pronounced the colonel an artist, and stuck to it. monsieur ratignolle was prepared to takethings seriously; the mets, the entre-mets, the service, the decorations, even thepeople. he looked up from his pompano and inquiredof arobin if he were related to the

gentleman of that name who formed one ofthe firm of laitner and arobin, lawyers. the young man admitted that laitner was awarm personal friend, who permitted arobin's name to decorate the firm'sletterheads and to appear upon a shingle that graced perdido street. "there are so many inquisitive people andinstitutions abounding," said arobin, "that one is really forced as a matter ofconvenience these days to assume the virtue of an occupation if he has it not." monsieur ratignolle stared a little, andturned to ask mademoiselle reisz if she considered the symphony concerts up to thestandard which had been set the previous

winter. mademoiselle reisz answered monsieurratignolle in french, which edna thought a little rude, under the circumstances, butcharacteristic. mademoiselle had only disagreeable thingsto say of the symphony concerts, and insulting remarks to make of all themusicians of new orleans, singly and collectively. all her interest seemed to be centered uponthe delicacies placed before her. mr. merriman said that mr. arobin's remarkabout inquisitive people reminded him of a man from waco the other day at the st.charles hotel--but as mr. merriman's

stories were always lame and lacking point, his wife seldom permitted him to completethem. she interrupted him to ask if he rememberedthe name of the author whose book she had bought the week before to send to a friendin geneva. she was talking "books" with mr. gouvernailand trying to draw from him his opinion upon current literary topics. her husband told the story of the waco manprivately to miss mayblunt, who pretended to be greatly amused and to think itextremely clever. mrs. highcamp hung with languid butunaffected interest upon the warm and

impetuous volubility of her left-handneighbor, victor lebrun. her attention was never for a momentwithdrawn from him after seating herself at table; and when he turned to mrs. merriman,who was prettier and more vivacious than mrs. highcamp, she waited with easy indifference for an opportunity to reclaimhis attention. there was the occasional sound of music, ofmandolins, sufficiently removed to be an agreeable accompaniment rather than aninterruption to the conversation. outside the soft, monotonous splash of afountain could be heard; the sound penetrated into the room with the heavyodor of jessamine that came through the

open windows. the golden shimmer of edna's satin gownspread in rich folds on either side of her. there was a soft fall of lace encirclingher shoulders. it was the color of her skin, without theglow, the myriad living tints that one may sometimes discover in vibrant flesh. there was something in her attitude, in herwhole appearance when she leaned her head against the high-backed chair and spreadher arms, which suggested the regal woman, the one who rules, who looks on, who standsalone. but as she sat there amid her guests, shefelt the old ennui overtaking her; the

hopelessness which so often assailed her,which came upon her like an obsession, like something extraneous, independent ofvolition. it was something which announced itself; achill breath that seemed to issue from some vast cavern wherein discords waited. there came over her the acute longing whichalways summoned into her spiritual vision the presence of the beloved one,overpowering her at once with a sense of the unattainable. the moments glided on, while a feeling ofgood fellowship passed around the circle like a mystic cord, holding and bindingthese people together with jest and

laughter. monsieur ratignolle was the first to breakthe pleasant charm. at ten o'clock he excused himself.madame ratignolle was waiting for him at home. she was bien souffrante, and she was filledwith vague dread, which only her husband's presence could allay. mademoiselle reisz arose with monsieurratignolle, who offered to escort her to the car. she had eaten well; she had tasted thegood, rich wines, and they must have turned

her head, for she bowed pleasantly to allas she withdrew from table. she kissed edna upon the shoulder, andwhispered: "bonne nuit, ma reine; soyez sage." she had been a little bewildered uponrising, or rather, descending from her cushions, and monsieur ratignolle gallantlytook her arm and led her away. mrs. highcamp was weaving a garland ofroses, yellow and red. when she had finished the garland, she laidit lightly upon victor's black curls. he was reclining far back in the luxuriouschair, holding a glass of champagne to the light.

as if a magician's wand had touched him,the garland of roses transformed him into a vision of oriental beauty. his cheeks were the color of crushedgrapes, and his dusky eyes glowed with a languishing fire."sapristi!" exclaimed arobin. but mrs. highcamp had one more touch to addto the picture. she took from the back of her chair a whitesilken scarf, with which she had covered her shoulders in the early part of theevening. she draped it across the boy in gracefulfolds, and in a way to conceal his black, conventional evening dress.

he did not seem to mind what she did tohim, only smiled, showing a faint gleam of white teeth, while he continued to gazewith narrowing eyes at the light through his glass of champagne. "oh! to be able to paint in color ratherthan in words!" exclaimed miss mayblunt, losing herself in a rhapsodic dream as shelooked at him. "'there was a graven image of desirepainted with red blood on a ground of gold.'" murmured gouvernail, under hisbreath. the effect of the wine upon victor was tochange his accustomed volubility into silence.

he seemed to have abandoned himself to areverie, and to be seeing pleasing visions in the amber bead."sing," entreated mrs. highcamp. "won't you sing to us?" "let him alone," said arobin."he's posing," offered mr. merriman; "let him have it out.""i believe he's paralyzed," laughed mrs. merriman. and leaning over the youth's chair, shetook the glass from his hand and held it to his lips. he sipped the wine slowly, and when he haddrained the glass she laid it upon the

table and wiped his lips with her littlefilmy handkerchief. "yes, i'll sing for you," he said, turningin his chair toward mrs. highcamp. he clasped his hands behind his head, andlooking up at the ceiling began to hum a little, trying his voice like a musiciantuning an instrument. then, looking at edna, he began to sing: "ah! si tu savais!""stop!" she cried, "don't sing that. i don't want you to sing it," and she laidher glass so impetuously and blindly upon the table as to shatter it against acarafe. the wine spilled over arobin's legs andsome of it trickled down upon mrs.

highcamp's black gauze gown. victor had lost all idea of courtesy, orelse he thought his hostess was not in earnest, for he laughed and went on:"ah! si tu savais ce que tes yeux me disent"-- "oh! you mustn't! you mustn't," exclaimededna, and pushing back her chair she got up, and going behind him placed her handover his mouth. he kissed the soft palm that pressed uponhis lips. "no, no, i won't, mrs. pontellier.i didn't know you meant it," looking up at her with caressing eyes.

the touch of his lips was like a pleasingsting to her hand. she lifted the garland of roses from hishead and flung it across the room. "come, victor; you've posed long enough. give mrs. highcamp her scarf."mrs. highcamp undraped the scarf from about him with her own hands. miss mayblunt and mr. gouvernail suddenlyconceived the notion that it was time to say good night.and mr. and mrs. merriman wondered how it could be so late. before parting from victor, mrs. highcampinvited him to call upon her daughter, who

she knew would be charmed to meet him andtalk french and sing french songs with him. victor expressed his desire and intentionto call upon miss highcamp at the first opportunity which presented itself.he asked if arobin were going his way. arobin was not. the mandolin players had long since stolenaway. a profound stillness had fallen upon thebroad, beautiful street. the voices of edna's disbanding guestsjarred like a discordant note upon the quiet harmony of the night. part 7: chapter xxxi

"well?" questioned arobin, who had remainedwith edna after the others had departed. "well," she reiterated, and stood up,stretching her arms, and feeling the need to relax her muscles after having been solong seated. "what next?" he asked. "the servants are all gone.they left when the musicians did. i have dismissed them. the house has to be closed and locked, andi shall trot around to the pigeon house, and shall send celestine over in themorning to straighten things up." he looked around, and began to turn outsome of the lights.

"what about upstairs?" he inquired."i think it is all right; but there may be a window or two unlatched. we had better look; you might take a candleand see. and bring me my wrap and hat on the foot ofthe bed in the middle room." he went up with the light, and edna beganclosing doors and windows. she hated to shut in the smoke and thefumes of the wine. arobin found her cape and hat, which hebrought down and helped her to put on. when everything was secured and the lightsput out, they left through the front door, arobin locking it and taking the key, whichhe carried for edna.

he helped her down the steps. "will you have a spray of jessamine?" heasked, breaking off a few blossoms as he passed."no; i don't want anything." she seemed disheartened, and had nothing tosay. she took his arm, which he offered her,holding up the weight of her satin train with the other hand. she looked down, noticing the black line ofhis leg moving in and out so close to her against the yellow shimmer of her gown. there was the whistle of a railway trainsomewhere in the distance, and the midnight

bells were ringing.they met no one in their short walk. the "pigeon house" stood behind a lockedgate, and a shallow parterre that had been somewhat neglected.there was a small front porch, upon which a long window and the front door opened. the door opened directly into the parlor;there was no side entry. back in the yard was a room for servants,in which old celestine had been ensconced. edna had left a lamp burning low upon thetable. she had succeeded in making the room lookhabitable and homelike. there were some books on the table and alounge near at hand.

on the floor was a fresh matting, coveredwith a rug or two; and on the walls hung a few tasteful pictures. but the room was filled with flowers.these were a surprise to her. arobin had sent them, and had had celestinedistribute them during edna's absence. her bedroom was adjoining, and across asmall passage were the dining-room and kitchen.edna seated herself with every appearance of discomfort. "are you tired?" he asked."yes, and chilled, and miserable. i feel as if i had been wound up to acertain pitch--too tight--and something

inside of me had snapped." she rested her head against the table uponher bare arm. "you want to rest," he said, "and to bequiet. i'll go; i'll leave you and let you rest." "yes," she replied.he stood up beside her and smoothed her hair with his soft, magnetic hand.his touch conveyed to her a certain physical comfort. she could have fallen quietly asleep thereif he had continued to pass his hand over her hair.he brushed the hair upward from the nape of

her neck. "i hope you will feel better and happier inthe morning," he said. "you have tried to do too much in the pastfew days. the dinner was the last straw; you mighthave dispensed with it." "yes," she admitted; "it was stupid.""no, it was delightful; but it has worn you out." his hand had strayed to her beautifulshoulders, and he could feel the response of her flesh to his touch.he seated himself beside her and kissed her lightly upon the shoulder.

"i thought you were going away," she said,in an uneven voice. "i am, after i have said good night.""good night," she murmured. he did not answer, except to continue tocaress her. he did not say good night until she hadbecome supple to his gentle, seductive entreaties. chapter xxxii when mr. pontellier learned of his wife'sintention to abandon her home and take up her residence elsewhere, he immediatelywrote her a letter of unqualified disapproval and remonstrance.

she had given reasons which he wasunwilling to acknowledge as adequate. he hoped she had not acted upon her rashimpulse; and he begged her to consider first, foremost, and above all else, whatpeople would say. he was not dreaming of scandal when heuttered this warning; that was a thing which would never have entered into hismind to consider in connection with his wife's name or his own. he was simply thinking of his financialintegrity. it might get noised about that thepontelliers had met with reverses, and were forced to conduct their menage on a humblerscale than heretofore.

it might do incalculable mischief to hisbusiness prospects. but remembering edna's whimsical turn ofmind of late, and foreseeing that she had immediately acted upon her impetuousdetermination, he grasped the situation with his usual promptness and handled it with his well-known business tact andcleverness. the same mail which brought to edna hisletter of disapproval carried instructions- -the most minute instructions--to a well-known architect concerning the remodeling of his home, changes which he had long contemplated, and which he desired carriedforward during his temporary absence.

expert and reliable packers and movers wereengaged to convey the furniture, carpets, pictures--everything movable, in short--toplaces of security. and in an incredibly short time thepontellier house was turned over to the artisans. there was to be an addition--a smallsnuggery; there was to be frescoing, and hardwood flooring was to be put into suchrooms as had not yet been subjected to this improvement. furthermore, in one of the daily papersappeared a brief notice to the effect that mr. and mrs. pontellier were contemplatinga summer sojourn abroad, and that their

handsome residence on esplanade street was undergoing sumptuous alterations, and wouldnot be ready for occupancy until their pontellier had saved appearances! edna admired the skill of his maneuver, andavoided any occasion to balk his intentions. when the situation as set forth by mr.pontellier was accepted and taken for granted, she was apparently satisfied thatit should be so. the pigeon house pleased her. it at once assumed the intimate characterof a home, while she herself invested it

with a charm which it reflected like a warmglow. there was with her a feeling of havingdescended in the social scale, with a corresponding sense of having risen in thespiritual. every step which she took toward relievingherself from obligations added to her strength and expansion as an individual. she began to look with her own eyes; to seeand to apprehend the deeper undercurrents of longer was she content to "feed upon opinion" when her own soul had invited her. after a little while, a few days, in fact,edna went up and spent a week with her

children in iberville.they were delicious february days, with all the summer's promise hovering in the air. how glad she was to see the children!she wept for very pleasure when she felt their little arms clasping her; their hard,ruddy cheeks pressed against her own glowing cheeks. she looked into their faces with hungryeyes that could not be satisfied with looking.and what stories they had to tell their mother! about the pigs, the cows, the mules!

about riding to the mill behind gluglu;fishing back in the lake with their uncle jasper; picking pecans with lidie's littleblack brood, and hauling chips in their express wagon. it was a thousand times more fun to haulreal chips for old lame susie's real fire than to drag painted blocks along thebanquette on esplanade street! she went with them herself to see the pigsand the cows, to look at the darkies laying the cane, to thrash the pecan trees, andcatch fish in the back lake. she lived with them a whole week long,giving them all of herself, and gathering and filling herself with their youngexistence.

they listened, breathless, when she toldthem the house in esplanade street was crowded with workmen, hammering, nailing,sawing, and filling the place with clatter. they wanted to know where their bed was;what had been done with their rocking- horse; and where did joe sleep, and wherehad ellen gone, and the cook? but, above all, they were fired with adesire to see the little house around the block.was there any place to play? were there any boys next door? raoul, with pessimistic foreboding, wasconvinced that there were only girls next door.where would they sleep, and where would

papa sleep? she told them the fairies would fix it allright. the old madame was charmed with edna'svisit, and showered all manner of delicate attentions upon her. she was delighted to know that theesplanade street house was in a dismantled gave her the promise and pretext to keep the children indefinitely. it was with a wrench and a pang that ednaleft her children. she carried away with her the sound oftheir voices and the touch of their cheeks.

all along the journey homeward theirpresence lingered with her like the memory of a delicious song.but by the time she had regained the city the song no longer echoed in her soul. she was again alone. chapter xxxiii it happened sometimes when edna went to seemademoiselle reisz that the little musician was absent, giving a lesson or making somesmall necessary household purchase. the key was always left in a secret hiding-place in the entry, which edna knew. if mademoiselle happened to be away, ednawould usually enter and wait for her

return. when she knocked at mademoiselle reisz'sdoor one afternoon there was no response; so unlocking the door, as usual, sheentered and found the apartment deserted, as she had expected. her day had been quite filled up, and itwas for a rest, for a refuge, and to talk about robert, that she sought out herfriend. she had worked at her canvas--a youngitalian character study--all the morning, completing the work without the model; butthere had been many interruptions, some incident to her modest housekeeping, andothers of a social nature.

madame ratignolle had dragged herself over,avoiding the too public thoroughfares, she she complained that edna had neglected hermuch of late. besides, she was consumed with curiosity tosee the little house and the manner in which it was conducted. she wanted to hear all about the dinnerparty; monsieur ratignolle had left so early.what had happened after he left? the champagne and grapes which edna sentover were too delicious. she had so little appetite; they hadrefreshed and toned her stomach. where on earth was she going to put mr.pontellier in that little house, and the

boys?and then she made edna promise to go to her when her hour of trial overtook her. "at any time--any time of the day or night,dear," edna assured her. before leaving madame ratignolle said:"in some way you seem to me like a child, edna. you seem to act without a certain amount ofreflection which is necessary in this life. that is the reason i want to say youmustn't mind if i advise you to be a little careful while you are living here alone. why don't you have some one come and staywith you?

wouldn't mademoiselle reisz come?""no; she wouldn't wish to come, and i shouldn't want her always with me." "well, the reason--you know how evil-mindedthe world is--some one was talking of alcee arobin visiting you.of course, it wouldn't matter if mr. arobin had not such a dreadful reputation. monsieur ratignolle was telling me that hisattentions alone are considered enough to ruin a woman s name." "does he boast of his successes?" askededna, indifferently, squinting at her picture."no, i think not.

i believe he is a decent fellow as far asthat goes. but his character is so well known amongthe men. i shan't be able to come back and see you;it was very, very imprudent to-day." "mind the step!" cried edna. "don't neglect me," entreated madameratignolle; "and don't mind what i said about arobin, or having some one to staywith you. "of course not," edna laughed. "you may say anything you like to me."they kissed each other good-by. madame ratignolle had not far to go, andedna stood on the porch a while watching

her walk down the street. then in the afternoon mrs. merriman andmrs. highcamp had made their "party call." edna felt that they might have dispensedwith the formality. they had also come to invite her to playvingt-et-un one evening at mrs. merriman's. she was asked to go early, to dinner, andmr. merriman or mr. arobin would take her edna accepted in a half-hearted way.she sometimes felt very tired of mrs. highcamp and mrs. merriman. late in the afternoon she sought refugewith mademoiselle reisz, and stayed there alone, waiting for her, feeling a kind ofrepose invade her with the very atmosphere

of the shabby, unpretentious little room. edna sat at the window, which looked outover the house-tops and across the river. the window frame was filled with pots offlowers, and she sat and picked the dry leaves from a rose geranium. the day was warm, and the breeze which blewfrom the river was very pleasant. she removed her hat and laid it on thepiano. she went on picking the leaves and diggingaround the plants with her hat pin. once she thought she heard mademoisellereisz approaching. but it was a young black girl, who came in,bringing a small bundle of laundry, which

she deposited in the adjoining room, andwent away. edna seated herself at the piano, andsoftly picked out with one hand the bars of a piece of music which lay open before her.a half-hour went by. there was the occasional sound of peoplegoing and coming in the lower hall. she was growing interested in heroccupation of picking out the aria, when there was a second rap at the door. she vaguely wondered what these people didwhen they found mademoiselle's door locked. "come in," she called, turning her facetoward the door. and this time it was robert lebrun whopresented himself.

she attempted to rise; she could not havedone so without betraying the agitation which mastered her at sight of him, so shefell back upon the stool, only exclaiming, "why, robert!" he came and clasped her hand, seeminglywithout knowing what he was saying or doing."mrs. pontellier! how do you happen--oh! how well you look! is mademoiselle reisz not here?i never expected to see you." "when did you come back?" asked edna in anunsteady voice, wiping her face with her handkerchief.

she seemed ill at ease on the piano stool,and he begged her to take the chair by the window.she did so, mechanically, while he seated himself on the stool. "i returned day before yesterday," heanswered, while he leaned his arm on the keys, bringing forth a crash of discordantsound. "day before yesterday!" she repeated,aloud; and went on thinking to herself, "day before yesterday," in a sort of anuncomprehending way. she had pictured him seeking her at thevery first hour, and he had lived under the same sky since day before yesterday; whileonly by accident had he stumbled upon her.

mademoiselle must have lied when she said,"poor fool, he loves you." "day before yesterday," she repeated,breaking off a spray of mademoiselle's geranium; "then if you had not met me hereto-day you wouldn't--when--that is, didn't you mean to come and see me?" "of course, i should have gone to see you.there have been so many things--" he turned the leaves of mademoiselle's musicnervously. "i started in at once yesterday with theold firm. after all there is as much chance for mehere as there was there--that is, i might find it profitable some day.

the mexicans were not very congenial." so he had come back because the mexicanswere not congenial; because business was as profitable here as there; because of anyreason, and not because he cared to be near her. she remembered the day she sat on thefloor, turning the pages of his letter, seeking the reason which was left untold. she had not noticed how he looked--onlyfeeling his presence; but she turned deliberately and observed him.after all, he had been absent but a few months, and was not changed.

his hair--the color of hers--waved backfrom his temples in the same way as before. his skin was not more burned than it hadbeen at grand isle. she found in his eyes, when he looked ather for one silent moment, the same tender caress, with an added warmth and entreatywhich had not been there before the same glance which had penetrated to the sleepingplaces of her soul and awakened them. a hundred times edna had pictured robert'sreturn, and imagined their first meeting. it was usually at her home, whither he hadsought her out at once. she always fancied him expressing orbetraying in some way his love for her. and here, the reality was that they sat tenfeet apart, she at the window, crushing

geranium leaves in her hand and smellingthem, he twirling around on the piano stool, saying: "i was very much surprised to hear of mr.pontellier's absence; it's a wonder mademoiselle reisz did not tell me; andyour moving--mother told me yesterday. i should think you would have gone to newyork with him, or to iberville with the children, rather than be bothered here withhousekeeping. and you are going abroad, too, i hear. we shan't have you at grand isle nextsummer; it won't seem--do you see much of mademoiselle reisz?she often spoke of you in the few letters

she wrote." "do you remember that you promised to writeto me when you went away?" a flush overspread his whole face."i couldn't believe that my letters would be of any interest to you." "that is an excuse; it isn't the truth."edna reached for her hat on the piano. she adjusted it, sticking the hat pinthrough the heavy coil of hair with some deliberation. "are you not going to wait for mademoisellereisz?" asked robert. "no; i have found when she is absent thislong, she is liable not to come back till

late." she drew on her gloves, and robert pickedup his hat. "won't you wait for her?" asked edna. "not if you think she will not be back tilllate," adding, as if suddenly aware of some discourtesy in his speech, "and i shouldmiss the pleasure of walking home with you." edna locked the door and put the key backin its hiding-place. they went together, picking their wayacross muddy streets and sidewalks encumbered with the cheap display of smalltradesmen.

part of the distance they rode in the car,and after disembarking, passed the pontellier mansion, which looked broken andhalf torn asunder. robert had never known the house, andlooked at it with interest. "i never knew you in your home," heremarked. "i am glad you did not." "why?"she did not answer. they went on around the corner, and itseemed as if her dreams were coming true after all, when he followed her into thelittle house. "you must stay and dine with me, robert.

you see i am all alone, and it is so longsince i have seen you. there is so much i want to ask you."she took off her hat and gloves. he stood irresolute, making some excuseabout his mother who expected him; he even muttered something about an engagement.she struck a match and lit the lamp on the table; it was growing dusk. when he saw her face in the lamp-light,looking pained, with all the soft lines gone out of it, he threw his hat aside andseated himself. "oh! you know i want to stay if you willlet me!" he exclaimed. all the softness came back.she laughed, and went and put her hand on

his shoulder. "this is the first moment you have seemedlike the old robert. i'll go tell celestine."she hurried away to tell celestine to set an extra place. she even sent her off in search of someadded delicacy which she had not thought of for herself. and she recommended great care in drippingthe coffee and having the omelet done to a proper turn. when she reentered, robert was turning overmagazines, sketches, and things that lay

upon the table in great disorder.he picked up a photograph, and exclaimed: "alcee arobin! what on earth is his picture doing here?""i tried to make a sketch of his head one day," answered edna, "and he thought thephotograph might help me. it was at the other house. i thought it had been left there.i must have packed it up with my drawing materials.""i should think you would give it back to him if you have finished with it." "oh! i have a great many such photographs.i never think of returning them.

they don't amount to anything."robert kept on looking at the picture. "it seems to me--do you think his headworth drawing? is he a friend of mr. pontellier's?you never said you knew him." "he isn't a friend of mr. pontellier's;he's a friend of mine. i always knew him--that is, it is only oflate that i know him pretty well. but i'd rather talk about you, and knowwhat you have been seeing and doing and feeling out there in mexico."robert threw aside the picture. "i've been seeing the waves and the whitebeach of grand isle; the quiet, grassy street of the cheniere; the old fort atgrande terre.

i've been working like a machine, andfeeling like a lost soul. there was nothing interesting."she leaned her head upon her hand to shade her eyes from the light. "and what have you been seeing and doingand feeling all these days?" he asked. street of the cheniere caminada; the oldsunny fort at grande terre. i've been working with a little morecomprehension than a machine, and still feeling like a lost soul.there was nothing interesting." "mrs. pontellier, you are cruel," he said,with feeling, closing his eyes and resting his head back in his chair.they remained in silence till old celestine

announced dinner. chapter xxxiv the dining-room was very small.edna's round mahogany would have almost filled it. as it was there was but a step or two fromthe little table to the kitchen, to the mantel, the small buffet, and the side doorthat opened out on the narrow brick-paved yard. a certain degree of ceremony settled uponthem with the announcement of dinner. there was no return to personalities.

robert related incidents of his sojourn inmexico, and edna talked of events likely to interest him, which had occurred during hisabsence. the dinner was of ordinary quality, exceptfor the few delicacies which she had sent out to purchase. old celestine, with a bandana tignontwisted about her head, hobbled in and out, taking a personal interest in everything;and she lingered occasionally to talk patois with robert, whom she had known asaboy. he went out to a neighboring cigar stand topurchase cigarette papers, and when he came back he found that celestine had served theblack coffee in the parlor.

"perhaps i shouldn't have come back," hesaid. "when you are tired of me, tell me to go.""you never tire me. you must have forgotten the hours and hoursat grand isle in which we grew accustomed to each other and used to being together." "i have forgotten nothing at grand isle,"he said, not looking at her, but rolling a cigarette. his tobacco pouch, which he laid upon thetable, was a fantastic embroidered silk affair, evidently the handiwork of a woman. "you used to carry your tobacco in a rubberpouch," said edna, picking up the pouch and

examining the needlework."yes; it was lost." "where did you buy this one? in mexico?""it was given to me by a vera cruz girl; they are very generous," he replied,striking a match and lighting his "they are very handsome, i suppose, thosemexican women; very picturesque, with their black eyes and their lace scarfs.""some are; others are hideous, just as you find women everywhere." "what was she like--the one who gave youthe pouch? you must have known her very well.""she was very ordinary.

she wasn't of the slightest importance. i knew her well enough.""did you visit at her house? was it interesting? i should like to know and hear about thepeople you met, and the impressions they made on you." "there are some people who leaveimpressions not so lasting as the imprint of an oar upon the water.""was she such a one?" "it would be ungenerous for me to admitthat she was of that order and kind." he thrust the pouch back in his pocket, asif to put away the subject with the trifle

which had brought it up. arobin dropped in with a message from mrs.merriman, to say that the card party was postponed on account of the illness of oneof her children. "how do you do, arobin?" said robert,rising from the obscurity. "oh! be sure! i heard yesterday you were back. how did they treat you down in mexique?""fairly well." "but not well enough to keep you there.stunning girls, though, in mexico. i thought i should never get away from veracruz when i was down there a couple of

years ago." "did they embroider slippers and tobaccopouches and hat-bands and things for you?" asked edna."oh! my! no! i didn't get so deep in their regard. i fear they made more impression on me thani made on them." "you were less fortunate than robert,then." "i am always less fortunate than robert. has he been imparting tender confidences?""i've been imposing myself long enough," said robert, rising, and shaking hands withedna.

"please convey my regards to mr. pontellierwhen you write." he shook hands with arobin and went away."fine fellow, that lebrun," said arobin when robert had gone. "i never heard you speak of him.""i knew him last summer at grand isle," she replied."here is that photograph of yours. don't you want it?" "what do i want with it?throw it away." she threw it back on the table."i'm not going to mrs. merriman's," she "if you see her, tell her so.but perhaps i had better write.

i think i shall write now, and say that iam sorry her child is sick, and tell her not to count on me." "it would be a good scheme," acquiescedarobin. "i don't blame you; stupid lot!" edna opened the blotter, and havingprocured paper and pen, began to write the note.arobin lit a cigar and read the evening paper, which he had in his pocket. "what is the date?" she asked.he told her. "will you mail this for me when you goout?"

"certainly." he read to her little bits out of thenewspaper, while she straightened things on the table."what do you want to do?" he asked, throwing aside the paper. "do you want to go out for a walk or adrive or anything? it would be a fine night to drive.""no; i don't want to do anything but just be quiet. you go away and amuse yourself.don't stay." "i'll go away if i must; but i shan't amusemyself.

you know that i only live when i am nearyou." he stood up to bid her good night."is that one of the things you always say to women?" "i have said it before, but i don't think iever came so near meaning it," he answered with a smile.there were no warm lights in her eyes; only a dreamy, absent look. "good night.i adore you. sleep well," he said, and he kissed herhand and went away. she stayed alone in a kind of reverie--asort of stupor.

step by step she lived over every instantof the time she had been with robert after he had entered mademoiselle reisz's door. she recalled his words, his few and meager they had been for her hungry heart!a vision--a transcendently seductive vision of a mexican girl arose before her. she writhed with a jealous pang.she wondered when he would come back. he had not said he would come back.she had been with him, had heard his voice and touched his hand. but some way he had seemed nearer to heroff there in mexico.

chapter xxxv the morning was full of sunlight and hope.edna could see before her no denial--only the promise of excessive joy.she lay in bed awake, with bright eyes full of speculation. "he loves you, poor fool."if she could but get that conviction firmly fixed in her mind, what mattered about therest? she felt she had been childish and unwisethe night before in giving herself over to despondency.she recapitulated the motives which no doubt explained robert's reserve.

they were not insurmountable; they wouldnot hold if he really loved her; they could not hold against her own passion, which hemust come to realize in time. she pictured him going to his business thatmorning. she even saw how he was dressed; how hewalked down one street, and turned the corner of another; saw him bending over hisdesk, talking to people who entered the office, going to his lunch, and perhapswatching for her on the street. he would come to her in the afternoon orevening, sit and roll his cigarette, talk a little, and go away as he had done thenight before. but how delicious it would be to have himthere with her!

she would have no regrets, nor seek topenetrate his reserve if he still chose to wear it. edna ate her breakfast only half dressed. the maid brought her a delicious printedscrawl from raoul, expressing his love, asking her to send him some bonbons, andtelling her they had found that morning ten tiny white pigs all lying in a row besidelidie's big white pig. a letter also came from her husband, sayinghe hoped to be back early in march, and then they would get ready for that journeyabroad which he had promised her so long, which he felt now fully able to afford; he

felt able to travel as people should,without any thought of small economies-- thanks to his recent speculations in wallstreet. much to her surprise she received a notefrom arobin, written at midnight from the club. it was to say good morning to her, to hopeshe had slept well, to assure her of his devotion, which he trusted she in somefaintest manner returned. all these letters were pleasing to her. she answered the children in a cheerfulframe of mind, promising them bonbons, and congratulating them upon their happy findof the little pigs.

she answered her husband with friendlyevasiveness,--not with any fixed design to mislead him, only because all sense ofreality had gone out of her life; she had abandoned herself to fate, and awaited theconsequences with indifference. to arobin's note she made no reply.she put it under celestine's stove-lid. edna worked several hours with much spirit. she saw no one but a picture dealer, whoasked her if it were true that she was going abroad to study in paris. she said possibly she might, and henegotiated with her for some parisian studies to reach him in time for theholiday trade in december.

robert did not come that day. she was keenly disappointed.he did not come the following day, nor the next.each morning she awoke with hope, and each night she was a prey to despondency. she was tempted to seek him out.but far from yielding to the impulse, she avoided any occasion which might throw herin his way. she did not go to mademoiselle reisz's norpass by madame lebrun's, as she might have done if he had still been in mexico. when arobin, one night, urged her to drivewith him, she went--out to the lake, on the

shell road.his horses were full of mettle, and even a little unmanageable. she liked the rapid gait at which they spunalong, and the quick, sharp sound of the horses' hoofs on the hard road.they did not stop anywhere to eat or to drink. arobin was not needlessly imprudent.but they ate and they drank when they regained edna's little dining-room--whichwas comparatively early in the evening. it was late when he left her. it was getting to be more than a passingwhim with arobin to see her and be with

he had detected the latent sensuality,which unfolded under his delicate sense of her nature's requirements like a torpid,torrid, sensitive blossom. there was no despondency when she fellasleep that night; nor was there hope when she awoke in the morning. part 8: chapter xxxvi there was a garden out in the suburbs; asmall, leafy corner, with a few green tables under the orange trees. an old cat slept all day on the stone stepin the sun, and an old mulatresse slept her idle hours away in her chair at the openwindow, till some one happened to knock on

one of the green tables. she had milk and cream cheese to sell, andbread and butter. there was no one who could make suchexcellent coffee or fry a chicken so golden brown as she. the place was too modest to attract theattention of people of fashion, and so quiet as to have escaped the notice ofthose in search of pleasure and dissipation. edna had discovered it accidentally one daywhen the high-board gate stood ajar. she caught sight of a little green table,blotched with the checkered sunlight that

filtered through the quivering leavesoverhead. within she had found the slumberingmulatresse, the drowsy cat, and a glass of milk which reminded her of the milk she hadtasted in iberville. she often stopped there during herperambulations; sometimes taking a book with her, and sitting an hour or two underthe trees when she found the place deserted. once or twice she took a quiet dinner therealone, having instructed celestine beforehand to prepare no dinner at home. it was the last place in the city where shewould have expected to meet any one she

knew. still she was not astonished when, as shewas partaking of a modest dinner late in the afternoon, looking into an open book,stroking the cat, which had made friends with her--she was not greatly astonished tosee robert come in at the tall garden gate. "i am destined to see you only byaccident," she said, shoving the cat off the chair beside her. he was surprised, ill at ease, almostembarrassed at meeting her thus so unexpectedly."do you come here often?" he asked. "i almost live here," she said.

"i used to drop in very often for a cup ofcatiche's good coffee. this is the first time since i came back.""she'll bring you a plate, and you will share my dinner. there's always enough for two--even three." edna had intended to be indifferent and asreserved as he when she met him; she had reached the determination by a laborioustrain of reasoning, incident to one of her despondent moods. but her resolve melted when she saw himbefore designing providence had led him into her path.

"why have you kept away from me, robert?"she asked, closing the book that lay open upon the table."why are you so personal, mrs. pontellier? why do you force me to idioticsubterfuges?" he exclaimed with sudden warmth. "i suppose there's no use telling you i'vebeen very busy, or that i've been sick, or that i've been to see you and not found youat home. please let me off with any one of theseexcuses." "you are the embodiment of selfishness,"she said. "you save yourself something--i don't knowwhat--but there is some selfish motive, and

in sparing yourself you never consider fora moment what i think, or how i feel your neglect and indifference. i suppose this is what you would callunwomanly; but i have got into a habit of expressing doesn't matter to me, and you may think me unwomanly if you like." "no; i only think you cruel, as i said theother day. maybe not intentionally cruel; but you seemto be forcing me into disclosures which can result in nothing; as if you would have mebare a wound for the pleasure of looking at it, without the intention or power ofhealing it."

"i'm spoiling your dinner, robert; nevermind what i say. you haven't eaten a morsel." "i only came in for a cup of coffee."his sensitive face was all disfigured with excitement."isn't this a delightful place?" she remarked. "i am so glad it has never actually beendiscovered. it is so quiet, so sweet, you notice there is scarcely a sound to be heard? it's so out of the way; and a good walkfrom the car.

however, i don't mind walking. i always feel so sorry for women who don'tlike to walk; they miss so much--so many rare little glimpses of life; and we womenlearn so little of life on the whole. "catiche's coffee is always hot. i don't know how she manages it, here inthe open air. celestine's coffee gets cold bringing itfrom the kitchen to the dining-room. three lumps! how can you drink it so sweet?take some of the cress with your chop; it's so biting and crisp.then there's the advantage of being able to

smoke with your coffee out here. now, in the city--aren't you going tosmoke?" "after a while," he said, laying a cigar onthe table. "who gave it to you?" she laughed. "i bought it.i suppose i'm getting reckless; i bought a whole box."she was determined not to be personal again and make him uncomfortable. the cat made friends with him, and climbedinto his lap when he smoked his cigar. he stroked her silky fur, and talked alittle about her.

he looked at edna's book, which he hadread; and he told her the end, to save her the trouble of wading through it, he said. again he accompanied her back to her home;and it was after dusk when they reached the little "pigeon-house." she did not ask him to remain, which he wasgrateful for, as it permitted him to stay without the discomfort of blunderingthrough an excuse which he had no intention of considering. he helped her to light the lamp; then shewent into her room to take off her hat and to bathe her face and hands.

when she came back robert was not examiningthe pictures and magazines as before; he sat off in the shadow, leaning his headback on the chair as if in a reverie. edna lingered a moment beside the table,arranging the books there. then she went across the room to where hesat. she bent over the arm of his chair andcalled his name. "robert," she said, "are you asleep?""no," he answered, looking up at her. she leaned over and kissed him--a soft,cool, delicate kiss, whose voluptuous sting penetrated his whole being-then she movedaway from him. he followed, and took her in his arms, justholding her close to him.

she put her hand up to his face and pressedhis cheek against her own. the action was full of love and tenderness. he sought her lips again.then he drew her down upon the sofa beside him and held her hand in both of his. "now you know," he said, "now you know whati have been fighting against since last summer at grand isle; what drove me awayand drove me back again." "why have you been fighting against it?"she asked. her face glowed with soft lights."why? because you were not free; you were leonce pontellier's wife.

i couldn't help loving you if you were tentimes his wife; but so long as i went away from you and kept away i could help tellingyou so." she put her free hand up to his shoulder,and then against his cheek, rubbing it softly.he kissed her again. his face was warm and flushed. "there in mexico i was thinking of you allthe time, and longing for you." "but not writing to me," she interrupted."something put into my head that you cared for me; and i lost my senses. i forgot everything but a wild dream ofyour some way becoming my wife."

"your wife!""religion, loyalty, everything would give way if only you cared." "then you must have forgotten that i wasleonce pontellier's wife." "oh! i was demented, dreaming of wild,impossible things, recalling men who had set their wives free, we have heard of suchthings." "yes, we have heard of such things." "i came back full of vague, mad intentions.and when i got here--" "when you got here you never came near me!"she was still caressing his cheek. "i realized what a cur i was to dream ofsuch a thing, even if you had been

willing." she took his face between her hands andlooked into it as if she would never withdraw her eyes more.she kissed him on the forehead, the eyes, the cheeks, and the lips. "you have been a very, very foolish boy,wasting your time dreaming of impossible things when you speak of mr. pontelliersetting me free! i am no longer one of mr. pontellier'spossessions to dispose of or not. i give myself where i choose. if he were to say, 'here, robert, take herand be happy; she is yours,' i should laugh

at you both."his face grew a little white. "what do you mean?" he asked. there was a knock at the door. old celestine came in to say that madameratignolle's servant had come around the back way with a message that madame hadbeen taken sick and begged mrs. pontellier to go to her immediately. "yes, yes," said edna, rising; "i promised.tell her yes--to wait for me. i'll go back with her.""let me walk over with you," offered robert.

"no," she said; "i will go with theservant." she went into her room to put on her hat,and when she came in again she sat once more upon the sofa beside him. he had not stirred.she put her arms about his neck. "good-by, my sweet robert.tell me good-by." he kissed her with a degree of passionwhich had not before entered into his caress, and strained her to him."i love you," she whispered, "only you; no one but you. it was you who awoke me last summer out ofa life-long, stupid dream.

oh! you have made me so unhappy with yourindifference. oh! i have suffered, suffered! now you are here we shall love each other,my robert. we shall be everything to each other.nothing else in the world is of any consequence. i must go to my friend; but you will waitfor me? no matter how late; you will wait for me,robert?" "don't go; don't go! oh! edna, stay with me," he pleaded."why should you go?

stay with me, stay with me.""i shall come back as soon as i can; i shall find you here." she buried her face in his neck, and saidgood-by again. her seductive voice, together with hisgreat love for her, had enthralled his senses, had deprived him of every impulsebut the longing to hold her and keep her. chapter xxxvii edna looked in at the drug store.monsieur ratignolle was putting up a mixture himself, very carefully, dropping ared liquid into a tiny glass. he was grateful to edna for having come;her presence would be a comfort to his

wife. madame ratignolle's sister, who had alwaysbeen with her at such trying times, had not been able to come up from the plantation,and adele had been inconsolable until mrs. pontellier so kindly promised to come toher. the nurse had been with them at night forthe past week, as she lived a great distance away. and dr. mandelet had been coming and goingall the afternoon. they were then looking for him any moment. edna hastened upstairs by a privatestairway that led from the rear of the

store to the apartments above.the children were all sleeping in a back room. madame ratignolle was in the salon, whithershe had strayed in her suffering impatience. she sat on the sofa, clad in an ample whitepeignoir, holding a handkerchief tight in her hand with a nervous clutch.her face was drawn and pinched, her sweet blue eyes haggard and unnatural. all her beautiful hair had been drawn backand plaited. it lay in a long braid on the sofa pillow,coiled like a golden serpent.

the nurse, a comfortable looking griffewoman in white apron and cap, was urging her to return to her bedroom."there is no use, there is no use," she said at once to edna. "we must get rid of mandelet; he is gettingtoo old and careless. he said he would be here at half-pastseven; now it must be eight. see what time it is, josephine." the woman was possessed of a cheerfulnature, and refused to take any situation too seriously, especially a situation withwhich she was so familiar. she urged madame to have courage andpatience.

but madame only set her teeth hard into herunder lip, and edna saw the sweat gather in beads on her white forehead. after a moment or two she uttered aprofound sigh and wiped her face with the handkerchief rolled in a ball.she appeared exhausted. the nurse gave her a fresh handkerchief,sprinkled with cologne water. "this is too much!" she cried."mandelet ought to be killed! where is alphonse? is it possible i am to be abandoned likethis--neglected by every one?" "neglected, indeed!" exclaimed the nurse.wasn't she there?

and here was mrs. pontellier leaving, nodoubt, a pleasant evening at home to devote to her?and wasn't monsieur ratignolle coming that very instant through the hall? and josephine was quite sure she had hearddoctor mandelet's coupe. yes, there it was, down at the door.adele consented to go back to her room. she sat on the edge of a little low couchnext to her bed. doctor mandelet paid no attention to madameratignolle's upbraidings. he was accustomed to them at such times,and was too well convinced of her loyalty to doubt it.

he was glad to see edna, and wanted her togo with him into the salon and entertain him.but madame ratignolle would not consent that edna should leave her for an instant. between agonizing moments, she chatted alittle, and said it took her mind off her sufferings.edna began to feel uneasy. she was seized with a vague dread. her own like experiences seemed far away,unreal, and only half remembered. she recalled faintly an ecstasy of pain,the heavy odor of chloroform, a stupor which had deadened sensation, and anawakening to find a little new life to

which she had given being, added to the great unnumbered multitude of souls thatcome and go. she began to wish she had not come; herpresence was not necessary. she might have invented a pretext forstaying away; she might even invent a pretext now for going.but edna did not go. with an inward agony, with a flaming,outspoken revolt against the ways of nature, she witnessed the scene of torture. she was still stunned and speechless withemotion when later she leaned over her friend to kiss her and softly say good-by.

adele, pressing her cheek, whispered in anexhausted voice: "think of the children, edna.oh think of the children! remember them!" chapter xxxviii edna still felt dazed when she got outsidein the open air. the doctor's coupe had returned for him andstood before the porte cochere. she did not wish to enter the coupe, andtold doctor mandelet she would walk; she was not afraid, and would go alone. he directed his carriage to meet him atmrs. pontellier's, and he started to walk

home with her.up--away up, over the narrow street between the tall houses, the stars were blazing. the air was mild and caressing, but coolwith the breath of spring and the night. they walked slowly, the doctor with aheavy, measured tread and his hands behind him; edna, in an absent-minded way, as shehad walked one night at grand isle, as if her thoughts had gone ahead of her and shewas striving to overtake them. "you shouldn't have been there, mrs.pontellier," he said. "that was no place for you. adele is full of whims at such times.there were a dozen women she might have had

with her, unimpressionable women.i felt that it was cruel, cruel. you shouldn't have gone." "oh, well!" she answered, indifferently."i don't know that it matters after all. one has to think of the children some timeor other; the sooner the better." "when is leonce coming back?" "quite soon.some time in march." "and you are going abroad?""perhaps--no, i am not going. i'm not going to be forced into doingthings. i don't want to go abroad.i want to be let alone.

nobody has any right--except children,perhaps--and even then, it seems to me--or it did seem--" she felt that her speech wasvoicing the incoherency of her thoughts, and stopped abruptly. "the trouble is," sighed the doctor,grasping her meaning intuitively, "that youth is given up to seems to be a provision of nature; a decoy to secure mothers for the race. and nature takes no account of moralconsequences, of arbitrary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged tomaintain at any cost." "yes," she said.

"the years that are gone seem like dreams--if one might go on sleeping and dreaming-- but to wake up and find--oh! well! perhapsit is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe toillusions all one's life." "it seems to me, my dear child," said thedoctor at parting, holding her hand, "you seem to me to be in trouble. i am not going to ask for your confidence.i will only say that if ever you feel moved to give it to me, perhaps i might help you.i know i would understand. and i tell you there are not many whowould--not many, my dear." "some way i don't feel moved to speak ofthings that trouble me.

don't think i am ungrateful or that i don'tappreciate your sympathy. there are periods of despondency andsuffering which take possession of me. but i don't want anything but my own way. that is wanting a good deal, of course,when you have to trample upon the lives, the hearts, the prejudices of others--butno matter--still, i shouldn't want to trample upon the little lives. oh! i don't know what i'm saying, doctor.good night. don't blame me for anything.""yes, i will blame you if you don't come and see me soon.

we will talk of things you never havedreamt of talking about before. it will do us both good.i don't want you to blame yourself, whatever comes. good night, my child."she let herself in at the gate, but instead of entering she sat upon the step of theporch. the night was quiet and soothing. all the tearing emotion of the last fewhours seemed to fall away from her like a somber, uncomfortable garment, which shehad but to loosen to be rid of. she went back to that hour before adele hadsent for her; and her senses kindled afresh

in thinking of robert's words, the pressureof his arms, and the feeling of his lips upon her own. she could picture at that moment no greaterbliss on earth than possession of the beloved one.his expression of love had already given him to her in part. when she thought that he was there at hand,waiting for her, she grew numb with the intoxication of was so late; he would be asleep perhaps. she would awaken him with a kiss. she hoped he would be asleep that she mightarouse him with her caresses.

still, she remembered adele's voicewhispering, "think of the children; think of them." she meant to think of them; thatdetermination had driven into her soul like a death wound--but not would be time to think of everything. robert was not waiting for her in thelittle parlor. he was nowhere at hand.the house was empty. but he had scrawled on a piece of paperthat lay in the lamplight: "i love you.good-by--because i love you."

edna grew faint when she read the words. she went and sat on the sofa.then she stretched herself out there, never uttering a sound.she did not sleep. she did not go to bed. the lamp sputtered and went out.she was still awake in the morning, when celestine unlocked the kitchen door andcame in to light the fire. chapter xxxix victor, with hammer and nails and scraps ofscantling, was patching a corner of one of the galleries.

mariequita sat near by, dangling her legs,watching him work, and handing him nails from the tool-box.the sun was beating down upon them. the girl had covered her head with herapron folded into a square pad. they had been talking for an hour or more.she was never tired of hearing victor describe the dinner at mrs. pontellier's. he exaggerated every detail, making itappear a veritable lucullean feast. the flowers were in tubs, he said.the champagne was quaffed from huge golden goblets. venus rising from the foam could havepresented no more entrancing a spectacle

than mrs. pontellier, blazing with beautyand diamonds at the head of the board, while the other women were all of them youthful houris, possessed of incomparablecharms. she got it into her head that victor was inlove with mrs. pontellier, and he gave her evasive answers, framed so as to confirmher belief. she grew sullen and cried a little,threatening to go off and leave him to his fine ladies. there were a dozen men crazy about her atthe cheniere; and since it was the fashion to be in love with married people, why, shecould run away any time she liked to new

orleans with celina's husband. celina's husband was a fool, a coward, anda pig, and to prove it to her, victor intended to hammer his head into a jellythe next time he encountered him. this assurance was very consoling tomariequita. she dried her eyes, and grew cheerful atthe prospect. they were still talking of the dinner andthe allurements of city life when mrs. pontellier herself slipped around thecorner of the house. the two youngsters stayed dumb withamazement before what they considered to be an apparition.but it was really she in flesh and blood,

looking tired and a little travel-stained. "i walked up from the wharf," she said,"and heard the hammering. i supposed it was you, mending the's a good thing. i was always tripping over those looseplanks last summer. how dreary and deserted everything looks!" it took victor some little time tocomprehend that she had come in beaudelet's lugger, that she had come alone, and for nopurpose but to rest. "there's nothing fixed up yet, you see. i'll give you my room; it's the onlyplace."

"any corner will do," she assured him. "and if you can stand philomel's cooking,"he went on, "though i might try to get her mother while you are you think she would come?" turning to mariequita. mariequita thought that perhaps philomel'smother might come for a few days, and money enough. beholding mrs. pontellier make herappearance, the girl had at once suspected a lovers' rendezvous. but victor's astonishment was so genuine,and mrs. pontellier's indifference so

apparent, that the disturbing notion didnot lodge long in her brain. she contemplated with the greatest interestthis woman who gave the most sumptuous dinners in america, and who had all the menin new orleans at her feet. "what time will you have dinner?" askededna. "i'm very hungry; but don't get anythingextra." "i'll have it ready in little or no time,"he said, bustling and packing away his tools."you may go to my room to brush up and rest yourself. mariequita will show you.""thank you," said edna.

"but, do you know, i have a notion to godown to the beach and take a good wash and even a little swim, before dinner?" "the water is too cold!" they bothexclaimed. "don't think of it.""well, i might go down and try--dip my toes in. why, it seems to me the sun is hot enoughto have warmed the very depths of the ocean.could you get me a couple of towels? i'd better go right away, so as to be backin time. it would be a little too chilly if i waitedtill this afternoon."

mariequita ran over to victor's room, andreturned with some towels, which she gave to edna. "i hope you have fish for dinner," saidedna, as she started to walk away; "but don't do anything extra if you haven't.""run and find philomel's mother," victor instructed the girl. "i'll go to the kitchen and see what i cando. by gimminy!women have no consideration! she might have sent me word." edna walked on down to the beach rathermechanically, not noticing anything special

except that the sun was hot.she was not dwelling upon any particular train of thought. she had done all the thinking which wasnecessary after robert went away, when she lay awake upon the sofa till morning. she had said over and over to herself: "to-day it is arobin; to-morrow it will be some one else. it makes no difference to me, it doesn'tmatter about leonce pontellier--but raoul and etienne!" she understood now clearly what she hadmeant long ago when she said to adele

ratignolle that she would give up theunessential, but she would never sacrifice herself for her children. despondency had come upon her there in thewakeful night, and had never lifted. there was no one thing in the world thatshe desired. there was no human being whom she wantednear her except robert; and she even realized that the day would come when he,too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone. the children appeared before her likeantagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into thesoul's slavery for the rest of her days.

but she knew a way to elude them. she was not thinking of these things whenshe walked down to the beach. the water of the gulf stretched out beforeher, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. the voice of the sea is seductive, neverceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses ofsolitude. all along the white beach, up and down,there was no living thing in sight. a bird with a broken wing was beating theair above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water.

edna had found her old bathing suit stillhanging, faded, upon its accustomed peg. she put it on, leaving her clothing in thebath-house. but when she was there beside the sea,absolutely alone, she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for thefirst time in her life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the wavesthat invited her. how strange and awful it seemed to standnaked under the sky! how delicious! she felt like some new-born creature,opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known.

the foamy wavelets curled up to her whitefeet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles.she walked out. the water was chill, but she walked on. the water was deep, but she lifted herwhite body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke.the touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. she went on and on.she remembered the night she swam far out, and recalled the terror that seized her atthe fear of being unable to regain the shore.

she did not look back now, but went on andon, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traversed when a little child,believing that it had no beginning and no end. her arms and legs were growing tired.she thought of leonce and the children. they were a part of her life.but they need not have thought that they could possess her, body and soul. how mademoiselle reisz would have laughed,perhaps sneered, if she knew! "and you call yourself an artist!what pretensions, madame! the artist must possess the courageous soulthat dares and defies."

exhaustion was pressing upon andoverpowering her. "good-by--because i love you." he did not know; he did not understand.he would never understand. perhaps doctor mandelet would haveunderstood if she had seen him--but it was too late; the shore was far behind her, andher strength was gone. she looked into the distance, and the oldterror flamed up for an instant, then sank again.edna heard her father's voice and her sister margaret's. she heard the barking of an old dog thatwas chained to the sycamore tree.

the spurs of the cavalry officer clanged ashe walked across the porch. there was the hum of bees, and the muskyodor of pinks filled the air.

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