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even at the price. But, by Jove! you are fierce! You are like those
Roman women who carry stilettos in their hair."
"I came here to talk reasonably, Mr. Ramage. It is abominable--"
"What is the use of keeping up this note of indignation, Ann Veronica?
Here I am! I am your lover, burning for you. I mean to have you! Don't
frown me off now. Don't go back into Victorian respectability and
pretend you don't know and you can't think and all the rest of it. One
comes at last to the step from dreams to reality. This is your moment.
No one will ever love you as I love you now. I have been dreaming of
your body and you night after night. I have been imaging--"
"Mr. Ramage, I came here--I didn't suppose for one moment you would
"Nonsense! That is your mistake! You are too intellectual. You want to
do everything with your mind. You are afraid of kisses. You are afraid
of the warmth in your blood. It's just because all that side of your
life hasn't fairly begun."
He made a step toward her.
"Mr. Ramage," she said, sharply, "I have to make it plain to you. I
don't think you understand. I don't love you. I don't. I can't love you.
I love some one else. It is repulsive. It disgusts me that you should
He stared in amazement at this new aspect of the situation. "You love
some one else?" he repeated.
"I love some one else. I could not dream of loving you."
And then he flashed his whole conception of the relations of men and
women upon her in one astonishing question. His hand went with an almost
instinctive inquiry to his jawbone again. "Then why the devil," he
demanded, "do you let me stand you dinners and the opera--and why do you
come to a cabinet particuliar with me?"
He became radiant with anger. "You mean to tell me" he said, "that you
have a lover? While I have been keeping you! Yes--keeping you!"
This view of life he hurled at her as if it were an offensive missile.
It stunned her. She felt she must fly before it and could no longer do
so. She did not think for one moment what interpretation he might put
upon the word "lover."
"Mr. Ramage," she said, clinging to her one point, "I want to get out of
this horrible little room. It has all been a mistake. I have been stupid
and foolish. Will you unlock that door?"
"Never!" he said. "Confound your lover! Look here! Do you really think
I am going to run you while he makes love to you? No fear! I never heard
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