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"Where are you going?"

"Where did you say the Goncourt was?"


Every light in the hall was ablaze; every lamp turned as high
as it could be without smoking the chimney or threatening explosion.
The lamps were fixed at intervals against the wall, encircling the whole room.
Some one had gathered orange and lemon branches, and with these fashioned
graceful festoons between. The dark green of the branches stood out
and glistened against the white muslin curtains which draped the windows,
and which puffed, floated, and flapped at the capricious will of a stiff
breeze that swept up from the Gulf.

It was Saturday night a few weeks after the intimate
conversation held between Robert and Madame Ratignolle on their way
from the beach. An unusual number of husbands, fathers, and
friends had come down to stay over Sunday; and they were being
suitably entertained by their families, with the material help of
Madame Lebrun. The dining tables had all been removed to one end
of the hall, and the chairs ranged about in rows and in clusters.

Each little family group had had its say and exchanged its domestic
gossip earlier in the evening. There was now an apparent
disposition to relax; to widen the circle of confidences and give
a more general tone to the conversation.

Many of the children had been permitted to sit up beyond their
usual bedtime. A small band of them were lying on their stomachs
on the floor looking at the colored sheets of the comic papers
which Mr. Pontellier had brought down. The little Pontellier boys
were permitting them to do so, and making their authority felt.

Music, dancing, and a recitation or two were the
entertainments furnished, or rather, offered. But there was nothing
systematic about the programme, no appearance of prearrangement nor
even premeditation.

At an early hour in the evening the Farival twins were
prevailed upon to play the piano. They were girls of fourteen,
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