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mental austerity. Here was an experienced man of the world, her friend,
who evidently took a great interest in this supreme topic and was
willing to give her the benefit of his experiences! Why should not she
be at her ease with him? Why should not she know things? It is hard
enough anyhow for a human being to learn, she decided, but it is a dozen
times more difficult than it need be because of all this locking of the
lips and thoughts.
She contrived to break down the barriers of shyness at last in one
direction, and talked one night of love and the facts of love with Miss
But Miss Miniver was highly unsatisfactory. She repeated phrases of Mrs.
Goopes's: "Advanced people," she said, with an air of great elucidation,
"tend to GENERALIZE love. 'He prayeth best who loveth best--all things
both great and small.' For my own part I go about loving."
"Yes, but men;" said Ann Veronica, plunging; "don't you want the love of
For some seconds they remained silent, both shocked by this question.
Miss Miniver looked over her glasses at her friend almost balefully.
"NO!" she said, at last, with something in her voice that reminded Ann
Veronica of a sprung tennis-racket.
"I've been through all that," she went on, after a pause.
She spoke slowly. "I have never yet met a man whose intellect I could
Ann Veronica looked at her thoughtfully for a moment, and decided to
persist on principle.
"But if you had?" she said.
"I can't imagine it," said Miss Miniver. "And think, think"--her voice
sank--"of the horrible coarseness!"
"What coarseness?" said Ann Veronica.
"My dear Vee!" Her voice became very low. "Don't you know?"
"Oh! I know--"
"Well--" Her face was an unaccustomed pink.
Ann Veronica ignored her friend's confusion.
"Don't we all rather humbug about the coarseness? All we women, I mean,"
said she. She decided to go on, after a momentary halt. "We pretend
bodies are ugly. Really they are the most beautiful things in the world.
We pretend we never think of everything that makes us what we are."
"No," cried Miss Miniver, almost vehemently. "You are wrong! I did not
think you thought such things. Bodies! Bodies! Horrible things! We are
souls. Love lives on a higher plane. We are not animals. If ever I
did meet a man I could love, I should love him"--her voice dropped
She made her glasses glint. "Absolutely platonically," she said.
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