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"It's rather jolly of you," said Ann Veronica.
"It's jolly of you to come," said Ramage.
So presently they got into a hansom together, and Ann Veronica sat back
feeling very luxurious and pleasant, and looked at the light and stir
and misty glitter of the street traffic from under slightly drooping
eyelids, while Ramage sat closer to her than he need have done, and
glanced ever and again at her face, and made to speak and said nothing.
And when they got to Covent Garden Ramage secured one of the little
upper boxes, and they came into it as the overture began.
Ann Veronica took off her jacket and sat down in the corner chair, and
leaned forward to look into the great hazy warm brown cavity of the
house, and Ramage placed his chair to sit beside her and near her,
facing the stage. The music took hold of her slowly as her eyes wandered
from the indistinct still ranks of the audience to the little busy
orchestra with its quivering violins, its methodical movements of brown
and silver instruments, its brightly lit scores and shaded lights. She
had never been to the opera before except as one of a congested mass of
people in the cheaper seats, and with backs and heads and women's hats
for the frame of the spectacle; there was by contrast a fine large sense
of space and ease in her present position. The curtain rose out of the
concluding bars of the overture and revealed Isolde on the prow of the
barbaric ship. The voice of the young seaman came floating down from the
masthead, and the story of the immortal lovers had begun. She knew
the story only imperfectly, and followed it now with a passionate and
deepening interest. The splendid voices sang on from phase to phase of
love's unfolding, the ship drove across the sea to the beating rhythm of
the rowers. The lovers broke into passionate knowledge of themselves and
each other, and then, a jarring intervention, came King Mark amidst the
shouts of the sailormen, and stood beside them.
The curtain came festooning slowly down, the music ceased, the lights
in the auditorium glowed out, and Ann Veronica woke out of her confused
dream of involuntary and commanding love in a glory of sound and colors
to discover that Ramage was sitting close beside her with one hand
resting lightly on her waist. She made a quick movement, and the hand
"By God! Ann Veronica," he said, sighing deeply. "This stirs one."
She sat quite still looking at him.
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