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manner, which she dared not ask him to explain. When he spoke to
her, it was with averted eyes, from which the old love-light seemed
to have gone out. He absented himself from home; and when there,
avoided her presence and that of her child, without excuse. And
the very spirit of Satan seemed suddenly to take hold of him in his
dealings with the slaves. Desiree was miserable enough to die.
She sat in her room, one hot afternoon, in her peignoir,
listlessly drawing through her fingers the strands of her long,
silky brown hair that hung about her shoulders. The baby, half
naked, lay asleep upon her own great mahogany bed, that was like a
sumptuous throne, with its satin-lined half-canopy. One of La
Blanche's little quadroon boys--half naked too--stood fanning the
child slowly with a fan of peacock feathers. Desiree's eyes had
been fixed absently and sadly upon the baby, while she was striving
to penetrate the threatening mist that she felt closing about her.
She looked from her child to the boy who stood beside him, and back
again; over and over. "Ah!" It was a cry that she could not help;
which she was not conscious of having uttered. The blood turned
like ice in her veins, and a clammy moisture gathered upon her face.
She tried to speak to the little quadroon boy; but no sound
would come, at first. When he heard his name uttered, he looked
up, and his mistress was pointing to the door. He laid aside the
great, soft fan, and obediently stole away, over the polished
floor, on his bare tiptoes.
She stayed motionless, with gaze riveted upon her child, and
her face the picture of fright.
Presently her husband entered the room, and without noticing
her, went to a table and began to search among some papers which
"Armand," she called to him, in a voice which must have
stabbed him, if he was human. But he did not notice. "Armand,"
she said again. Then she rose and tottered towards him. "Armand,"
she panted once more, clutching his arm, "look at our child. What
does it mean? tell me."
He coldly but gently loosened her fingers from about his arm
and thrust the hand away from him. "Tell me what it means!"
she cried despairingly.
"It means," he answered lightly, "that the child is not white;