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and Mrs. Alderman Dunstable, of the Borough Council of Marylebone.
These were seated in an imperfect semicircle about a very copper-adorned
fireplace, surmounted by a carved wood inscription:
"DO IT NOW."
And to them were presently added a roguish-looking young man, with
reddish hair, an orange tie, and a fluffy tweed suit, and others who,
in Ann Veronica's memory, in spite of her efforts to recall details,
remained obstinately just "others."
The talk was animated, and remained always brilliant in form even when
it ceased to be brilliant in substance. There were moments when Ann
Veronica rather more than suspected the chief speakers to be, as
school-boys say, showing off at her.
They talked of a new substitute for dripping in vegetarian cookery that
Mrs. Goopes was convinced exercised an exceptionally purifying influence
on the mind. And then they talked of Anarchism and Socialism, and
whether the former was the exact opposite of the latter or only a higher
form. The reddish-haired young man contributed allusions to the Hegelian
philosophy that momentarily confused the discussion. Then Alderman
Dunstable, who had hitherto been silent, broke out into speech and went
off at a tangent, and gave his personal impressions of quite a number
of his fellow-councillors. He continued to do this for the rest of the
evening intermittently, in and out, among other topics. He addressed
himself chiefly to Goopes, and spoke as if in reply to long-sustained
inquiries on the part of Goopes into the personnel of the Marylebone
Borough Council. "If you were to ask me," he would say, "I should say
Blinders is straight. An ordinary type, of course--"
Mrs. Dunstable's contributions to the conversation were entirely in the
form of nods; whenever Alderman Dunstable praised or blamed she nodded
twice or thrice, according to the requirements of his emphasis. And
she seemed always to keep one eye on Ann Veronica's dress. Mrs.
Goopes disconcerted the Alderman a little by abruptly challenging the
roguish-looking young man in the orange tie (who, it seemed, was the
assistant editor of New Ideas) upon a critique of Nietzsche and Tolstoy
that had appeared in his paper, in which doubts had been cast upon the
perfect sincerity of the latter. Everybody seemed greatly concerned
about the sincerity of Tolstoy.
Miss Miniver said that if once she lost her faith in Tolstoy's
sincerity, nothing she felt would really matter much any more, and she
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