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that waved a little, was heavy, and clung close to her head.
Madame Ratignolle, more careful of her complexion, had twined
a gauze veil about her head. She wore dogskin gloves, with
gauntlets that protected her wrists. She was dressed in pure
white, with a fluffiness of ruffles that became her. The draperies
and fluttering things which she wore suited her rich, luxuriant
beauty as a greater severity of line could not have done.
There were a number of bath-houses along the beach, of rough
but solid construction, built with small, protecting galleries
facing the water. Each house consisted of two compartments, and
each family at Lebrun's possessed a compartment for itself, fitted
out with all the essential paraphernalia of the bath and whatever
other conveniences the owners might desire. The two women had no
intention of bathing; they had just strolled down to the beach for
a walk and to be alone and near the water. The Pontellier and
Ratignolle compartments adjoined one another under the same roof.
Mrs. Pontellier had brought down her key through force of
habit. Unlocking the door of her bath-room she went inside, and
soon emerged, bringing a rug, which she spread upon the floor of
the gallery, and two huge hair pillows covered with crash, which
she placed against the front of the building.
The two seated themselves there in the shade of the porch,
side by side, with their backs against the pillows and their feet
extended. Madame Ratignolle removed her veil, wiped her face with
a rather delicate handkerchief, and fanned herself with the fan
which she always carried suspended somewhere about her person by a
long, narrow ribbon. Edna removed her collar and opened her dress
at the throat. She took the fan from Madame Ratignolle and began
to fan both herself and her companion. It was very warm, and for
a while they did nothing but exchange remarks about the heat, the
sun, the glare. But there was a breeze blowing, a choppy, stiff
wind that whipped the water into froth. It fluttered the skirts of
the two women and kept them for a while engaged in adjusting,
readjusting, tucking in, securing hair-pins and hat-pins. A few
persons were sporting some distance away in the water. The beach
was very still of human sound at that hour. The lady in black was
reading her morning devotions on the porch of a neighboring
bathhouse. Two young lovers were exchanging their hearts' yearnings
beneath the children's tent, which they had found unoccupied.
Edna Pontellier, casting her eyes about, had finally kept them