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Chapter 3

  • It was eleven o'clock that night when Mr. Pontellier returned from Klein'_otel. He was in an excellent humor, in high spirits, and very talkative. Hi_ntrance awoke his wife, who was in bed and fast asleep when he came in. H_alked to her while he undressed, telling her anecdotes and bits of news an_ossip that he had gathered during the day. From his trousers pockets he too_ fistful of crumpled bank notes and a good deal of silver coin, which h_iled on the bureau indiscriminately with keys, knife, handkerchief, an_hatever else happened to be in his pockets. She was overcome with sleep, an_nswered him with little half utterances.
  • He thought it very discouraging that his wife, who was the sole object of hi_xistence, evinced so little interest in things which concerned him, an_alued so little his conversation.
  • Mr. Pontellier had forgotten the bonbons and peanuts for the boys.
  • Notwithstanding he loved them very much, and went into the adjoining roo_here they slept to take a look at them and make sure that they were restin_omfortably. The result of his investigation was far from satisfactory. H_urned and shifted the youngsters about in bed. One of them began to kick an_alk about a basket full of crabs.
  • Mr. Pontellier returned to his wife with the information that Raoul had a hig_ever and needed looking after. Then he lit a cigar and went and sat near th_pen door to smoke it.
  • Mrs. Pontellier was quite sure Raoul had no fever. He had gone to be_erfectly well, she said, and nothing had ailed him all day. Mr. Pontellie_as too well acquainted with fever symptoms to be mistaken. He assured her th_hild was consuming at that moment in the next room.
  • He reproached his wife with her inattention, her habitual neglect of th_hildren. If it was not a mother's place to look after children, whose o_arth was it? He himself had his hands full with his brokerage business. H_ould not be in two places at once; making a living for his family on th_treet, and staying at home to see that no harm befell them. He talked in _onotonous, insistent way.
  • Mrs. Pontellier sprang out of bed and went into the next room. She soon cam_ack and sat on the edge of the bed, leaning her head down on the pillow. Sh_aid nothing, and refused to answer her husband when he questioned her. Whe_is cigar was smoked out he went to bed, and in half a minute he was fas_sleep.
  • Mrs. Pontellier was by that time thoroughly awake. She began to cry a little,
  • and wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her peignoir. Blowing out the candle,
  • which her husband had left burning, she slipped her bare feet into a pair o_atin mules at the foot of the bed and went out on the porch, where she sa_own in the wicker chair and began to rock gently to and fro.
  • It was then past midnight. The cottages were all dark. A single faint ligh_leamed out from the hallway of the house. There was no sound abroad excep_he hooting of an old owl in the top of a water-oak, and the everlasting voic_f the sea, that was not uplifted at that soft hour. It broke like a mournfu_ullaby upon the night.
  • The tears came so fast to Mrs. Pontellier's eyes that the damp sleeve of he_eignoir no longer served to dry them. She was holding the back of her chai_ith one hand; her loose sleeve had slipped almost to the shoulder of he_plifted arm. Turning, she thrust her face, steaming and wet, into the bend o_er arm, and she went on crying there, not caring any longer to dry her face,
  • her eyes, her arms. She could not have told why she was crying. Suc_xperiences as the foregoing were not uncommon in her married life. The_eemed never before to have weighed much against the abundance of he_usband's kindness and a uniform devotion which had come to be tacit and self-
  • understood.
  • An indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar par_f her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was lik_ shadow, like a mist passing across her soul's summer day. It was strange an_nfamiliar; it was a mood. She did not sit there inwardly upbraiding he_usband, lamenting at Fate, which had directed her footsteps to the path whic_hey had taken. She was just having a good cry all to herself. The mosquitoe_ade merry over her, biting her firm, round arms and nipping at her bar_nsteps.
  • The little stinging, buzzing imps succeeded in dispelling a mood which migh_ave held her there in the darkness half a night longer.
  • The following morning Mr. Pontellier was up in good time to take the rockawa_hich was to convey him to the steamer at the wharf. He was returning to th_ity to his business, and they would not see him again at the Island till th_oming Saturday. He had regained his composure, which seemed to have bee_omewhat impaired the night before. He was eager to be gone, as he looke_orward to a lively week in Carondelet Street.
  • Mr. Pontellier gave his wife half of the money which he had brought away fro_lein's hotel the evening before. She liked money as well as most women, and,
  • accepted it with no little satisfaction.
  • "It will buy a handsome wedding present for Sister Janet!" she exclaimed,
  • smoothing out the bills as she counted them one by one.
  • "Oh! we'll treat Sister Janet better than that, my dear," he laughed, as h_repared to kiss her good-by.
  • The boys were tumbling about, clinging to his legs, imploring that numerou_hings be brought back to them. Mr. Pontellier was a great favorite, an_adies, men, children, even nurses, were always on hand to say goodby to him.
  • His wife stood smiling and waving, the boys shouting, as he disappeared in th_ld rockaway down the sandy road.
  • A few days later a box arrived for Mrs. Pontellier from New Orleans. It wa_rom her husband. It was filled with friandises, with luscious and toothsom_its—the finest of fruits, pates, a rare bottle or two, delicious syrups, an_onbons in abundance.
  • Mrs. Pontellier was always very generous with the contents of such a box; sh_as quite used to receiving them when away from home. The pates and fruit wer_rought to the dining-room; the bonbons were passed around. And the ladies,
  • selecting with dainty and discriminating fingers and a little greedily, al_eclared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs.
  • Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better.