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New Orleans. She had possession of the rocker, and she was busily
engaged in sewing upon a diminutive pair of night-drawers.
She had brought the pattern of the drawers for Mrs. Pontellier
to cut out--a marvel of construction, fashioned to enclose a baby's
body so effectually that only two small eyes might look out from
the garment, like an Eskimo's. They were designed for winter wear,
when treacherous drafts came down chimneys and insidious currents
of deadly cold found their way through key-holes.
Mrs. Pontellier's mind was quite at rest concerning the
present material needs of her children, and she could not see the
use of anticipating and making winter night garments the subject of
her summer meditations. But she did not want to appear unamiable
and uninterested, so she had brought forth newspapers, which she
spread upon the floor of the gallery, and under Madame Ratignolle's
directions she had cut a pattern of the impervious garment.
Robert was there, seated as he had been the Sunday before, and
Mrs. Pontellier also occupied her former position on the upper
step, leaning listlessly against the post. Beside her was a box of
bonbons, which she held out at intervals to Madame Ratignolle.
That lady seemed at a loss to make a selection, but finally
settled upon a stick of nougat, wondering if it were not too rich;
whether it could possibly hurt her. Madame Ratignolle had been
married seven years. About every two years she had a baby. At
that time she had three babies, and was beginning to think of a
fourth one. She was always talking about her "condition." Her
"condition" was in no way apparent, and no one would have known a
thing about it but for her persistence in making it the subject of
Robert started to reassure her, asserting that he had known a
lady who had subsisted upon nougat during the entire--but seeing
the color mount into Mrs. Pontellier's face he checked himself and
changed the subject.
Mrs. Pontellier, though she had married a Creole, was not
thoroughly at home in the society of Creoles; never before had she
been thrown so intimately among them. There were only Creoles that
summer at Lebrun's. They all knew each other, and felt like one
large family, among whom existed the most amicable relations. A
characteristic which distinguished them and which impressed Mrs.
Pontellier most forcibly was their entire absence of prudery.