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She leaned draggingly upon his arm as they walked.


"Do me a favor, Robert," spoke the pretty woman at his side,
almost as soon as she and Robert had started their slow, homeward
way. She looked up in his face, leaning on his arm beneath the
encircling shadow of the umbrella which he had lifted.

"Granted; as many as you like," he returned, glancing down
into her eyes that were full of thoughtfulness and some

"I only ask for one; let Mrs. Pontellier alone."

"Tiens!" he exclaimed, with a sudden, boyish laugh.
"Voila que Madame Ratignolle est jalouse!"

"Nonsense! I'm in earnest; I mean what I say. Let Mrs.
Pontellier alone."

"Why?" he asked; himself growing serious at his companion's

"She is not one of us; she is not like us. She might make the
unfortunate blunder of taking you seriously."

His face flushed with annoyance, and taking off his soft hat
he began to beat it impatiently against his leg as he walked. "Why
shouldn't she take me seriously?" he demanded sharply. "Am I a
comedian, a clown, a jack-in-the-box? Why shouldn't she? You
Creoles! I have no patience with you! Am I always to be regarded as
a feature of an amusing programme? I hope Mrs. Pontellier does take
me seriously. I hope she has discernment enough to find in me
something besides the blagueur. If I thought there was any doubt--"

"Oh, enough, Robert!" she broke into his heated outburst.
"You are not thinking of what you are saying. You speak with about
as little reflection as we might expect from one of those children
down there playing in the sand. If your attentions to any married
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