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But she did not get away just then.
Ramage's bitterness passed as abruptly as his aggression. "Oh,
Ann Veronica!" he cried, "I cannot let you go like this! You don't
understand. You can't possibly understand!"
He began a confused explanation, a perplexing contradictory apology for
his urgency and wrath. He loved Ann Veronica, he said; he was so mad
to have her that he defeated himself, and did crude and alarming and
senseless things. His vicious abusiveness vanished. He suddenly became
eloquent and plausible. He did make her perceive something of the acute,
tormenting desire for her that had arisen in him and possessed him.
She stood, as it were, directed doorward, with her eyes watching every
movement, listening to him, repelled by him and yet dimly understanding.
At any rate he made it very clear that night that there was an
ineradicable discord in life, a jarring something that must shatter all
her dreams of a way of living for women that would enable them to be
free and spacious and friendly with men, and that was the passionate
predisposition of men to believe that the love of women can be earned
and won and controlled and compelled.
He flung aside all his talk of help and disinterested friendship as
though it had never been even a disguise between them, as though
from the first it was no more than a fancy dress they had put quite
understandingly upon their relationship. He had set out to win her, and
she had let him start. And at the thought of that other lover--he was
convinced that that beloved person was a lover, and she found herself
unable to say a word to explain to him that this other person, the
person she loved, did not even know of her love--Ramage grew angry
and savage once more, and returned suddenly to gibe and insult. Men do
services for the love of women, and the woman who takes must pay. Such
was the simple code that displayed itself in all his thoughts. He left
that arid rule clear of the least mist of refinement or delicacy.
That he should pay forty pounds to help this girl who preferred another
man was no less in his eyes than a fraud and mockery that made her
denial a maddening and outrageous disgrace to him. And this though he
was evidently passionately in love with her.
For a while he threatened her. "You have put all your life in my hands,"
he declared. "Think of that check you endorsed. There it is--against
you. I defy you to explain it away. What do you think people will make
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