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"That's one of the ridiculous things which men always say. I
have never known one to speak otherwise of fanning. How long will
you be gone?"
"Forever, perhaps. I don't know. It depends upon a good many things."
"Well, in case it shouldn't be forever, how long will it be?"
"I don't know."
"This seems to me perfectly preposterous and uncalled for. I
don't like it. I don't understand your motive for silence and
mystery, never saying a word to me about it this morning." He
remained silent, not offering to defend himself. He only said,
after a moment:
"Don't part from me in any ill humor. I never knew you to be
out of patience with me before."
"I don't want to part in any ill humor," she said. "But can't
you understand? I've grown used to seeing you, to having you with
me all the time, and your action seems unfriendly, even unkind.
You don't even offer an excuse for it. Why, I was planning to be together,
thinking of how pleasant it would be to see you in the city next winter."
"So was I," he blurted. "Perhaps that's the--" He stood up
suddenly and held out his hand. "Good-by, my dear Mrs. Pontellier;
good-by. You won't--I hope you won't completely forget me."
She clung to his hand, striving to detain him.
"Write to me when you get there, won't you, Robert?" she entreated.
"I will, thank you. Good-by."
How unlike Robert! The merest acquaintance would have said
something more emphatic than "I will, thank you; good-by," to such
He had evidently already taken leave of the people over at the
house, for he descended the steps and went to join Beaudelet, who
was out there with an oar across his shoulder waiting for Robert.
They walked away in the darkness. She could only hear Beaudelet's
voice; Robert had apparently not even spoken a word of greeting to