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of anything so cool. If he wants you, let him get you. You're mine. I've
paid for you and helped you, and I'm going to conquer you somehow--if
I have to break you to do it. Hitherto you've seen only my easy, kindly
side. But now confound it! how can you prevent it? I will kiss you."
"You won't!" said Ann Veronica; with the clearest note of determination.
He seemed to be about to move toward her. She stepped back quickly, and
her hand knocked a wine-glass from the table to smash noisily on the
floor. She caught at the idea. "If you come a step nearer to me," she
said, "I will smash every glass on this table."
"Then, by God!" he said, "you'll be locked up!"
Ann Veronica was disconcerted for a moment. She had a vision of
policemen, reproving magistrates, a crowded court, public disgrace. She
saw her aunt in tears, her father white-faced and hard hit. "Don't come
nearer!" she said.
There was a discreet knocking at the door, and Ramage's face changed.
"No," she said, under her breath, "you can't face it." And she knew that
she was safe.
He went to the door. "It's all right," he said, reassuringly to the
Ann Veronica glanced at the mirror to discover a flushed and dishevelled
disorder. She began at once a hasty readjustment of her hair, while
Ramage parleyed with inaudible interrogations. "A glass slipped from the
table," he explained.... "Non. Fas du tout. Non.... Niente.... Bitte!...
Oui, dans la note.... Presently. Presently." That conversation ended and
he turned to her again.
"I am going," she said grimly, with three hairpins in her mouth.
She took her hat from the peg in the corner and began to put it on. He
regarded that perennial miracle of pinning with wrathful eyes.
"Look here, Ann Veronica," he began. "I want a plain word with you about
all this. Do you mean to tell me you didn't understand why I wanted you
to come here?"
"Not a bit of it," said Ann Veronica stoutly.
"You didn't expect that I should kiss you?"
"How was I to know that a man would--would think it was possible--when
there was nothing--no love?"
"How did I know there wasn't love?"
That silenced her for a moment. "And what on earth," he said, "do you
think the world is made of? Why do you think I have been doing things
for you? The abstract pleasure of goodness? Are you one of the members
of that great white sisterhood that takes and does not give? The good
accepting woman! Do you really suppose a girl is entitled to live at
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