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"Soul to soul."
She turned her face to the fire, gripped her hands upon her elbows, and
drew her thin shoulders together in a shrug. "Ugh!" she said.
Ann Veronica watched her and wondered about her.
"We do not want the men," said Miss Miniver; "we do not want them, with
their sneers and loud laughter. Empty, silly, coarse brutes. Brutes!
They are the brute still with us! Science some day may teach us a way
to do without them. It is only the women matter. It is not every sort of
creature needs--these males. Some have no males."
"There's green-fly," admitted Ann Veronica. "And even then--"
The conversation hung for a thoughtful moment.
Ann Veronica readjusted her chin on her hand. "I wonder which of us is
right," she said. "I haven't a scrap--of this sort of aversion."
"Tolstoy is so good about this," said Miss Miniver, regardless of her
friend's attitude. "He sees through it all. The Higher Life and the
Lower. He sees men all defiled by coarse thoughts, coarse ways of living
cruelties. Simply because they are hardened by--by bestiality,
and poisoned by the juices of meat slain in anger and fermented
drinks--fancy! drinks that have been swarmed in by thousands and
thousands of horrible little bacteria!"
"It's yeast," said Ann Veronica--"a vegetable."
"It's all the same," said Miss Miniver. "And then they are swollen up
and inflamed and drunken with matter. They are blinded to all fine
and subtle things--they look at life with bloodshot eyes and dilated
nostrils. They are arbitrary and unjust and dogmatic and brutish and
"But do you really think men's minds are altered by the food they eat?"
"I know it," said Miss Miniver. "Experte credo. When I am leading a true
life, a pure and simple life free of all stimulants and excitements, I
think--I think--oh! with pellucid clearness; but if I so much as take a
mouthful of meat--or anything--the mirror is all blurred."
Then, arising she knew not how, like a new-born appetite, came a craving
in Ann Veronica for the sight and sound of beauty.
It was as if her aesthetic sense had become inflamed. Her mind turned
and accused itself of having been cold and hard. She began to look for
beauty and discover it in unexpected aspects and places. Hitherto she
had seen it chiefly in pictures and other works of art, incidentally,
and as a thing taken out of life. Now the sense of beauty was spreading
to a multitude of hitherto unsuspected aspects of the world about her.
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