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broad front veranda, whose round, fluted columns supported the
sloping roof. The house was painted a dazzling white; the outside
shutters, or jalousies, were green. In the yard, which was kept
scrupulously neat, were flowers and plants of every description
which flourishes in South Louisiana. Within doors the appointments
were perfect after the conventional type. The softest carpets and
rugs covered the floors; rich and tasteful draperies hung at doors
and windows. There were paintings, selected with judgment and
discrimination, upon the walls. The cut glass, the silver, the
heavy damask which daily appeared upon the table were the envy of
many women whose husbands were less generous than Mr. Pontellier.
Mr. Pontellier was very fond of walking about his house
examining its various appointments and details, to see that nothing
was amiss. He greatly valued his possessions, chiefly because they
were his, and derived genuine pleasure from contemplating a
painting, a statuette, a rare lace curtain--no matter what--after
he had bought it and placed it among his household gods.
On Tuesday afternoons--Tuesday being Mrs. Pontellier's
reception day--there was a constant stream of callers--women who
came in carriages or in the street cars, or walked when the air was
soft and distance permitted. A light-colored mulatto boy,
in dress coat and bearing a diminutive silver tray
for the reception of cards, admitted them. A maid,
in white fluted cap, offered the callers liqueur, coffee,
or chocolate, as they might desire. Mrs. Pontellier, attired in a
handsome reception gown, remained in the drawing-room the entire
afternoon receiving her visitors. Men sometimes called in the
evening with their wives.
This had been the programme which Mrs. Pontellier had
religiously followed since her marriage, six years before. Certain
evenings during the week she and her husband attended the opera or
sometimes the play.
Mr. Pontellier left his home in the mornings between nine and
ten o'clock, and rarely returned before half-past six or seven in
the evening--dinner being served at half-past seven.
He and his wife seated themselves at table one Tuesday
evening, a few weeks after their return from Grand Isle. They were
alone together. The boys were being put to bed; the patter of
their bare, escaping feet could be heard occasionally, as well as
the pursuing voice of the quadroon, lifted in mild protest and