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a place--This isn't the place. You have misunderstood. I can't explain--"
They regarded one another, each blinded to the other. "Forgive me," he
decided to say at last, and his voice had a little quiver of emotion,
and he laid his hand on hers upon her knee. "I am the most foolish of
men. I was stupid--stupid and impulsive beyond measure to burst upon
you in this way. I--I am a love-sick idiot, and not accountable for my
actions. Will you forgive me--if I say no more?"
She looked at him with perplexed, earnest eyes.
"Pretend," he said, "that all I have said hasn't been said. And let us
go on with our evening. Why not? Imagine I've had a fit of hysteria--and
that I've come round."
"Yes," she said, and abruptly she liked him enormously. She felt this
was the sensible way out of this oddly sinister situation.
He still watched her and questioned her.
"And let us have a talk about this--some other time. Somewhere, where we
can talk without interruption. Will you?"
She thought, and it seemed to him she had never looked so
self-disciplined and deliberate and beautiful. "Yes," she said, "that
is what we ought to do." But now she doubted again of the quality of the
armistice they had just made.
He had a wild impulse to shout. "Agreed," he said with queer exaltation,
and his grip tightened on her hand. "And to-night we are friends?"
"We are friends," said Ann Veronica, and drew her hand quickly away from
"To-night we are as we have always been. Except that this music we have
been swimming in is divine. While I have been pestering you, have you
heard it? At least, you heard the first act. And all the third act is
love-sick music. Tristan dying and Isolde coming to crown his death.
Wagner had just been in love when he wrote it all. It begins with that
queer piccolo solo. Now I shall never hear it but what this evening will
come pouring back over me."
The lights sank, the prelude to the third act was beginning, the
music rose and fell in crowded intimations of lovers separated--lovers
separated with scars and memories between them, and the curtain went
reefing up to display Tristan lying wounded on his couch and the
shepherd crouching with his pipe.
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