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energetic. There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She
reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.
The dinner was excellent. The claret was warm and the
champagne was cold, and under their beneficent influence the
threatened unpleasantness melted and vanished with the fumes of the
Mr. Pontellier warmed up and grew reminiscent. He told some
amusing plantation experiences, recollections of old Iberville and
his youth, when he hunted `possum in company with some friendly
darky; thrashed the pecan trees, shot the grosbec, and roamed the
woods and fields in mischievous idleness.
The Colonel, with little sense of humor and of the fitness of
things, related a somber episode of those dark and bitter days, in
which he had acted a conspicuous part and always formed a central
figure. Nor was the Doctor happier in his selection, when he told
the old, ever new and curious story of the waning of a woman's love,
seeking strange, new channels, only to return to its legitimate source
after days of fierce unrest. It was one of the many little human
documents which had been unfolded to him during his long career as
a physician. The story did not seem especially to impress Edna.
She had one of her own to tell, of a woman who paddled away with
her lover one night in a pirogue and never came back. They were
lost amid the Baratarian Islands, and no one ever heard of them or
found trace of them from that day to this. It was a pure
invention. She said that Madame Antoine had related it to her.
That, also, was an invention. Perhaps it was a dream she had had.
But every glowing word seemed real to those who listened. They
could feel the hot breath of the Southern night; they could hear
the long sweep of the pirogue through the glistening moonlit water,
the beating of birds' wings, rising startled from among the reeds
in the salt-water pools; they could see the faces of the lovers,
pale, close together, rapt in oblivious forgetfulness, drifting
into the unknown.
The champagne was cold, and its subtle fumes played fantastic
tricks with Edna's memory that night.
Outside, away from the glow of the fire and the soft
lamplight, the night was chill and murky. The Doctor doubled his
old-fashioned cloak across his breast as he strode home through the
darkness. He knew his fellow-creatures better than most men; knew
that inner life which so seldom unfolds itself to unanointed* eyes.