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women here were ever offered with any intention of being
convincing, you would not be the gentleman we all know you to be,
and you would be unfit to associate with the wives and daughters of
the people who trust you."

Madame Ratignolle had spoken what she believed to be the law
and the gospel. The young man shrugged his shoulders impatiently.

"Oh! well! That isn't it," slamming his hat down vehemently
upon his head. "You ought to feel that such things are not
flattering to say to a fellow."

"Should our whole intercourse consist of an exchange of
compliments? Ma foi!"

"It isn't pleasant to have a woman tell you--" he went on,
unheedingly, but breaking off suddenly: "Now if I were like
Arobin-you remember Alcee Arobin and that story of the consul's wife at
Biloxi?" And he related the story of Alcee Arobin and the consul's
wife; and another about the tenor of the French Opera, who received
letters which should never have been written; and still other stories,
grave and gay, till Mrs. Pontellier and her possible propensity for
taking young men seriously was apparently forgotten.

Madame Ratignolle, when they had regained her cottage, went in
to take the hour's rest which she considered helpful. Before
leaving her, Robert begged her pardon for the impatience--he called
it rudeness--with which he had received her well-meant caution.

"You made one mistake, Adele," he said, with a light smile;
"there is no earthly possibility of Mrs. Pontellier ever taking me
seriously. You should have warned me against taking myself
seriously. Your advice might then have carried some weight and
given me subject for some reflection. Au revoir. But you look
tired," he added, solicitously. "Would you like a cup of bouillon?
Shall I stir you a toddy? Let me mix you a toddy with a drop of

She acceded to the suggestion of bouillon, which was grateful
and acceptable. He went himself to the kitchen, which was a
building apart from the cottages and lying to the rear of the
house. And he himself brought her the golden-brown bouillon, in a
dainty Sevres cup, with a flaky cracker or two on the saucer.

She thrust a bare, white arm from the curtain which shielded
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