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"You knew it," he added, in her momentary silence.
"You said you were in love with me," said Ann Veronica; "I wanted to
"I said I loved and wanted you." The brutality of his first astonishment
was evaporating. "I am in love with you. You know I am in love with you.
And then you go--and half throttle me.... I believe you've crushed a
gland or something. It feels like it."
"I am sorry," said Ann Veronica. "What else was I to do?"
For some seconds she stood watching him and both were thinking very
quickly. Her state of mind would have seemed altogether discreditable to
her grandmother. She ought to have been disposed to faint and scream at
all these happenings; she ought to have maintained a front of outraged
dignity to veil the sinking of her heart. I would like to have to tell
it so. But indeed that is not at all a good description of her attitude.
She was an indignant queen, no doubt she was alarmed and disgusted
within limits; but she was highly excited, and there was something, some
low adventurous strain in her being, some element, subtle at least if
base, going about the rioting ways and crowded insurgent meeting-places
of her mind declaring that the whole affair was after all--they are the
only words that express it--a very great lark indeed. At the bottom
of her heart she was not a bit afraid of Ramage. She had unaccountable
gleams of sympathy with and liking for him. And the grotesquest fact
was that she did not so much loathe, as experience with a quite critical
condemnation this strange sensation of being kissed. Never before had
any human being kissed her lips....
It was only some hours after that these ambiguous elements evaporated
and vanished and loathing came, and she really began to be thoroughly
sick and ashamed of the whole disgraceful quarrel and scuffle.
He, for his part, was trying to grasp the series of unexpected reactions
that had so wrecked their tete-a-tete. He had meant to be master of his
fate that evening and it had escaped him altogether. It had, as it were,
blown up at the concussion of his first step. It dawned upon him that he
had been abominably used by Ann Veronica.
"Look here," he said, "I brought you here to make love to you."
"I didn't understand--your idea of making love. You had better let me go
"Not yet," he said. "I do love you. I love you all the more for the
streak of sheer devil in you.... You are the most beautiful, the most
desirable thing I have ever met in this world. It was good to kiss you,
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