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The Awakening
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Part II

Mrs. Pontellier's eyes were quick and bright; they were a
yellowish brown, about the color of her hair. She had a way of
turning them swiftly upon an object and holding them there as if
lost in some inward maze of contemplation or thought.
Her eyebrows were a shade darker than her hair. They were
thick and almost horizontal, emphasizing the depth of her eyes.
She was rather handsome than beautiful. Her face was captivating
by reason of a certain frankness of expression and a contradictory
subtle play of features. Her manner was engaging.
Robert rolled a cigarette. He smoked cigarettes because he
could not afford cigars, he said. He had a cigar in his pocket
which Mr. Pontellier had presented him with, and he was saving it
for his after-dinner smoke.
This seemed quite proper and natural on his part. In coloring
he was not unlike his companion. A clean-shaved face made the
resemblance more pronounced than it would otherwise have been.
There rested no shadow of care upon his open countenance. His eyes
gathered in and reflected the light and languor of the summer day.
Mrs. Pontellier reached over for a palm-leaf fan that lay on
the porch and began to fan herself, while Robert sent between his
lips light puffs from his cigarette. They chatted incessantly:
about the things around them; their amusing adventure out in the
water-it had again assumed its entertaining aspect; about the wind, the trees,
the people who had gone to the Cheniere; about the children playing croquet
under the oaks, and the Farival twins, who were now performing the overture
to "The Poet and the Peasant."
Robert talked a good deal about himself. He was very young,
and did not know any better. Mrs. Pontellier talked a little about
herself for the same reason. Each was interested in what the other
said. Robert spoke of his intention to go to Mexico in the autumn,
where fortune awaited him. He was always intending to go to
Mexico, but some way never got there. Meanwhile he held on to his
modest position in a mercantile house in New Orleans, where an
equal familiarity with English, French and Spanish gave him no
small value as a clerk and correspondent.
He was spending his summer vacation, as he always did, with
his mother at Grand Isle. In former times, before Robert could
remember, "the house" had been a summer luxury of the Lebruns.
Now, flanked by its dozen or more cottages, which were always
filled with exclusive visitors from the "Quartier Francais,"
it enabled Madame Lebrun to maintain the easy and comfortable
existence which appeared to be her birthright.
Mrs. Pontellier talked about her father's Mississippi
plantation and her girlhood home in the old Kentucky bluegrass
country. She was an American woman, with a small infusion of
French which seemed to have been lost in dilution. She read a
letter from her sister, who was away in the East, and who had
engaged herself to be married. Robert was interested, and wanted
to know what manner of girls the sisters were, what the father was
like, and how long the mother had been dead.
When Mrs. Pontellier folded the letter it was time for her to
dress for the early dinner.
"I see Leonce isn't coming back," she said, with a glance in
the direction whence her husband had disappeared. Robert supposed
he was not, as there were a good many New Orleans club men over at Klein's.
When Mrs. Pontellier left him to enter her room, the young man
descended the steps and strolled over toward the croquet players,
where, during the half-hour before dinner, he amused himself with
the little Pontellier children, who were very fond of him.
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