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Vivie's position--managing something.
Her thoughts were deflected from Vivie Warren by the peculiar behavior
of a middle-aged gentleman in Piccadilly. He appeared suddenly from
the infinite in the neighborhood of the Burlington Arcade, crossing
the pavement toward her and with his eyes upon her. He seemed to her
indistinguishably about her father's age. He wore a silk hat a little
tilted, and a morning coat buttoned round a tight, contained figure;
and a white slip gave a finish to his costume and endorsed the quiet
distinction of his tie. His face was a little flushed perhaps, and his
small, brown eyes were bright. He stopped on the curb-stone, not facing
her but as if he was on his way to cross the road, and spoke to her
suddenly over his shoulder.
"Whither away?" he said, very distinctly in a curiously wheedling voice.
Ann Veronica stared at his foolish, propitiatory smile, his hungry gaze,
through one moment of amazement, then stepped aside and went on her way
with a quickened step. But her mind was ruffled, and its mirror-like
surface of satisfaction was not easily restored.
Queer old gentleman!
The art of ignoring is one of the accomplishments of every well-bred
girl, so carefully instilled that at last she can even ignore her own
thoughts and her own knowledge. Ann Veronica could at the same time ask
herself what this queer old gentleman could have meant by speaking to
her, and know--know in general terms, at least--what that accosting
signified. About her, as she had gone day by day to and from the
Tredgold College, she had seen and not seen many an incidental aspect
of those sides of life about which girls are expected to know nothing,
aspects that were extraordinarily relevant to her own position and
outlook on the world, and yet by convention ineffably remote. For all
that she was of exceptional intellectual enterprise, she had never
yet considered these things with unaverted eyes. She had viewed them
askance, and without exchanging ideas with any one else in the world
She went on her way now no longer dreaming and appreciative, but
disturbed and unwillingly observant behind her mask of serene
That delightful sense of free, unembarrassed movement was gone.
As she neared the bottom of the dip in Piccadilly she saw a woman
approaching her from the opposite direction--a tall woman who at the
first glance seemed altogether beautiful and fine. She came along with
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