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Yet Ann Veronica was thinking a very great deal about love. A dozen
shynesses and intellectual barriers were being outflanked or broken
down in her mind. All the influences about her worked with her own
predisposition and against all the traditions of her home and upbringing
to deal with the facts of life in an unabashed manner. Ramage, by a
hundred skilful hints had led her to realize that the problem of her own
life was inseparably associated with, and indeed only one special case
of, the problems of any woman's life, and that the problem of a woman's
life is love.
"A young man comes into life asking how best he may place himself,"
Ramage had said; "a woman comes into life thinking instinctively how
best she may give herself."
She noted that as a good saying, and it germinated and spread tentacles
of explanation through her brain. The biological laboratory, perpetually
viewing life as pairing and breeding and selection, and again pairing
and breeding, seemed only a translated generalization of that assertion.
And all the talk of the Miniver people and the Widgett people seemed
always to be like a ship in adverse weather on the lee shore of love.
"For seven years," said Ann Veronica, "I have been trying to keep myself
from thinking about love....
"I have been training myself to look askance at beautiful things."
She gave herself permission now to look at this squarely. She made
herself a private declaration of liberty. "This is mere nonsense, mere
tongue-tied fear!" she said. "This is the slavery of the veiled life.
I might as well be at Morningside Park. This business of love is the
supreme affair in life, it is the woman's one event and crisis that
makes up for all her other restrictions, and I cower--as we all
cower--with a blushing and paralyzed mind until it overtakes me!...
"I'll be hanged if I do."
But she could not talk freely about love, she found, for all that
Ramage seemed always fencing about the forbidden topic, probing for
openings, and she wondered why she did not give him them. But something
instinctive prevented that, and with the finest resolve not to be
"silly" and prudish she found that whenever he became at all bold
in this matter she became severely scientific and impersonal, almost
entomological indeed, in her method; she killed every remark as he made
it and pinned it out for examination. In the biological laboratory that
was their invincible tone. But she disapproved more and more of her own
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