Mr. Pontellier scanned the names of his wife's callers, reading some of them aloud, with comments as he read.
"`The Misses Delasidas.' I worked a big deal in futures for their father this morning; nice girls; it's time they were getting married. `Mrs. Belthrop.' I tell you what it is, Edna; you can't afford to snub Mrs. Belthrop. Why, Belthrop could buy and sell us ten times over. His business is worth a good, round sum to me. You'd better write her a note. `Mrs. James Highcamp.' Hugh! the less you have to do with Mrs. Highcamp, the better. `Madame Laforce.' Came all the way from Carrolton, too, poor old soul. 'Miss Wiggs,' `Mrs. Eleanor Boltons.'" He pushed the cards aside.
"Mercy!" exclaimed Edna, who had been fuming. "Why are you taking the thing so seriously and making such a fuss over it?"
"I'm not making any fuss over it. But it's just such seeming trifles that we've got to take seriously; such things count."
The fish was scorched. Mr. Pontellier would not touch it. Edna said she did not mind a little scorched taste. The roast was in some way not to his fancy, and he did not like the manner in which the vegetables were served.
"It seems to me," he said, "we spend money enough in this house to procure at least one meal a day which a man could eat and retain his self-respect."
"You used to think the cook was a treasure," returned Edna, indifferently.
"Perhaps she was when she first came; but cooks are only human. They need looking after, like any other class of persons that you employ. Suppose I didn't look after the clerks in my office, just let them run things their own way; they'd soon make a nice mess of me and my business."