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window, and saw her whisked into a hansom. Their subsequent conversation
is outside the scope of our story.
"Ritter's!" said Ramage to the driver, "Dean Street."
It was rare that Ann Veronica used hansoms, and to be in one was itself
eventful and exhilarating. She liked the high, easy swing of the thing
over its big wheels, the quick clatter-patter of the horse, the passage
of the teeming streets. She admitted her pleasure to Ramage.
And Ritter's, too, was very amusing and foreign and discreet; a little
rambling room with a number of small tables, with red electric light
shades and flowers. It was an overcast day, albeit not foggy, and
the electric light shades glowed warmly, and an Italian waiter with
insufficient English took Ramage's orders, and waited with an appearance
of affection. Ann Veronica thought the whole affair rather jolly. Ritter
sold better food than most of his compatriots, and cooked it better, and
Ramage, with a fine perception of a feminine palate, ordered Vero Capri.
It was, Ann Veronica felt, as a sip or so of that remarkable blend
warmed her blood, just the sort of thing that her aunt would not
approve, to be lunching thus, tete-a-tete with a man; and yet at the
same time it was a perfectly innocent as well as agreeable proceeding.
They talked across their meal in an easy and friendly manner about Ann
Veronica's affairs. He was really very bright and clever, with a sort of
conversational boldness that was just within the limits of permissible
daring. She described the Goopes and the Fabians to him, and gave him
a sketch of her landlady; and he talked in the most liberal and
entertaining way of a modern young woman's outlook. He seemed to know
a great deal about life. He gave glimpses of possibilities. He roused
curiosities. He contrasted wonderfully with the empty showing-off of
Teddy. His friendship seemed a thing worth having....
But when she was thinking it over in her room that evening vague and
baffling doubts came drifting across this conviction. She doubted how
she stood toward him and what the restrained gleam of his face might
signify. She felt that perhaps, in her desire to play an adequate part
in the conversation, she had talked rather more freely than she ought to
have done, and given him a wrong impression of herself.
That was two days before Christmas Eve. The next morning came a compact
letter from her father.
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