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diversified by card-playing. There was a friend who played upon
the 'cello. One brought his flute and another his violin, while
there were some who sang and a number who performed upon the piano
with various degrees of taste and agility. The Ratignolles' soirees
musicales were widely known, and it was considered a privilege
to be invited to them.

Edna found her friend engaged in assorting the clothes which
had returned that morning from the laundry. She at once abandoned
her occupation upon seeing Edna, who had been ushered without
ceremony into her presence.

"`Cite can do it as well as I; it is really her business," she
explained to Edna, who apologized for interrupting her. And she
summoned a young black woman, whom she instructed, in French, to be
very careful in checking off the list which she handed her. She
told her to notice particularly if a fine linen handkerchief of
Monsieur Ratignolle's, which was missing last week, had been
returned; and to be sure to set to one side such pieces as required
mending and darning.

Then placing an arm around Edna's waist, she led her to the
front of the house, to the salon, where it was cool and sweet with
the odor of great roses that stood upon the hearth in jars.

Madame Ratignolle looked more beautiful than ever there at
home, in a neglige which left her arms almost wholly bare and
exposed the rich, melting curves of her white throat.

"Perhaps I shall be able to paint your picture some day," said
Edna with a smile when they were seated. She produced the roll of
sketches and started to unfold them. "I believe I ought to work again.
I feel as if I wanted to be doing something. What do you think of them?
Do you think it worth while to take it up again and study some more?

I might study for a while with Laidpore."

She knew that Madame Ratignolle's opinion in such a matter
would be next to valueless, that she herself had not alone decided,
but determined; but she sought the words of praise and
encouragement that would help her to put heart into her venture.

"Your talent is immense, dear!"

"Nonsense!" protested Edna, well pleased.
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