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of that? What will this lover of yours make of that?"
At intervals Ann Veronica demanded to go, declaring her undying resolve
to repay him at any cost, and made short movements doorward.
But at last this ordeal was over, and Ramage opened the door. She
emerged with a white face and wide-open eyes upon a little, red-lit
landing. She went past three keenly observant and ostentatiously
preoccupied waiters down the thick-carpeted staircase and out of the
Hotel Rococo, that remarkable laboratory of relationships, past a tall
porter in blue and crimson, into a cool, clear night.
When Ann Veronica reached her little bed-sitting-room again, every nerve
in her body was quivering with shame and self-disgust.
She threw hat and coat on the bed and sat down before the fire.
"And now," she said, splintering the surviving piece of coal into
indignant flame-spurting fragments with one dexterous blow, "what am I
"I'm in a hole!--mess is a better word, expresses it better. I'm in a
mess--a nasty mess! a filthy mess! Oh, no end of a mess!
"Do you hear, Ann Veronica?--you're in a nasty, filthy, unforgivable
"Haven't I just made a silly mess of things?
"Forty pounds! I haven't got twenty!"
She got up, stamped with her foot, and then, suddenly remembering the
lodger below, sat down and wrenched off her boots.
"This is what comes of being a young woman up to date. By Jove! I'm
beginning to have my doubts about freedom!
"You silly young woman, Ann Veronica! You silly young woman! The
smeariness of the thing!
"The smeariness of this sort of thing!... Mauled about!"
She fell to rubbing her insulted lips savagely with the back of her
hand. "Ugh!" she said.
"The young women of Jane Austen's time didn't get into this sort of
scrape! At least--one thinks so.... I wonder if some of them did--and
it didn't get reported. Aunt Jane had her quiet moments. Most of
them didn't, anyhow. They were properly brought up, and sat still and
straight, and took the luck fate brought them as gentlewomen should.
And they had an idea of what men were like behind all their nicety. They
knew they were all Bogey in disguise. I didn't! I didn't! After all--"
For a time her mind ran on daintiness and its defensive restraints
as though it was the one desirable thing. That world of fine printed
cambrics and escorted maidens, of delicate secondary meanings and
refined allusiveness, presented itself to her imagination with the
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