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have I offended you? What have I done? Can't you forgive me?"
And he bent and pressed his lips upon her hand as if he wished
never more to withdraw them.

"Mr. Arobin," she complained, "I'm greatly upset by the excitement
of the afternoon; I'm not myself. My manner must have misled you
in some way. I wish you to go, please." She spoke in a monotonous,
dull tone. He took his hat from the table, and stood with eyes turned
from her, looking into the dying fire. For a moment or two he kept an
impressive silence.

"Your manner has not misled me, Mrs. Pontellier," he said
finally. "My own emotions have done that. I couldn't help it.
When I'm near you, how could I help it? Don't think anything of it,
don't bother, please. You see, I go when you command me. If you
wish me to stay away, I shall do so. If you let me come back,
I--oh! you will let me come back?"

He cast one appealing glance at her, to which she made no
response. Alcee Arobin's manner was so genuine that it often
deceived even himself.

Edna did not care or think whether it were genuine or not.
When she was alone she looked mechanically at the back of her hand
which he had kissed so warmly. Then she leaned her head down on
the mantelpiece. She felt somewhat like a woman who in a moment of
passion is betrayed into an act of infidelity, and realizes the
significance of the act without being wholly awakened from its
glamour. The thought was passing vaguely through her mind, "What
would he think?"

She did not mean her husband; she was thinking of Robert
Lebrun. Her husband seemed to her now like a person whom she had
married without love as an excuse.

She lit a candle and went up to her room. Alcee Arobin was
absolutely nothing to her. Yet his presence, his manners, the
warmth of his glances, and above all the touch of his lips upon her
hand had acted like a narcotic upon her.

She slept a languorous sleep, interwoven with vanishing
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