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appealing to Madame Lebrun for enlightenment concerning the many
figures and faces which she discovered between its pages.
There was a picture of Madame Lebrun with Robert as a baby,
seated in her lap, a round-faced infant with a fist in his mouth.
The eyes alone in the baby suggested the man. And that was he also
in kilts, at the age of five, wearing long curls and holding a whip
in his hand. It made Edna laugh, and she laughed, too, at the portrait
in his first long trousers; while another interested her, taken when he
left for college, looking thin, long-faced, with eyes full of fire,
ambition and great intentions. But there was no recent picture,
none which suggested the Robert who had gone away five days ago,
leaving a void and wilderness behind him.
"Oh, Robert stopped having his pictures taken when he had to
pay for them himself! He found wiser use for his money, he says,"
explained Madame Lebrun. She had a letter from him, written before
he left New Orleans. Edna wished to see the letter, and Madame
Lebrun told her to look for it either on the table or the dresser,
or perhaps it was on the mantelpiece.
The letter was on the bookshelf. It possessed the greatest
interest and attraction for Edna; the envelope, its size and shape,
the post-mark, the handwriting. She examined every detail of the
outside before opening it. There were only a few lines, setting
forth that he would leave the city that afternoon, that he had
packed his trunk in good shape, that he was well, and sent her his
love and begged to be affectionately remembered to all. There was
no special message to Edna except a postscript saying that if Mrs.
Pontellier desired to finish the book which he had been reading to
her, his mother would find it in his room, among other books there
on the table. Edna experienced a pang of jealousy because he had
written to his mother rather than to her.
Every one seemed to take for granted that she missed him.
Even her husband, when he came down the Saturday following Robert's
departure, expressed regret that he had gone.
"How do you get on without him, Edna?" he asked.
"It's very dull without him," she admitted. Mr. Pontellier
had seen Robert in the city, and Edna asked him a dozen questions
or more. Where had they met? On Carondelet Street, in the morning.
They had gone "in" and had a drink and a cigar together. What had
they talked about? Chiefly about his prospects in Mexico, which