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to be passionately in love with Capes; at moments she had a giddy
intimation that he was beginning to feel keenly interested in her.
She realized more and more the quality of the brink upon which she
stood--the dreadful readiness with which in certain moods she
might plunge, the unmitigated wrongness and recklessness of such a
self-abandonment. "He must never know," she would whisper to herself,
"he must never know. Or else--Else it will be impossible that I can be
That simple statement of the case was by no means all that went on in
Ann Veronica's mind. But it was the form of her ruling determination; it
was the only form that she ever allowed to see daylight. What else was
there lurked in shadows and deep places; if in some mood of reverie it
came out into the light, it was presently overwhelmed and hustled back
again into hiding. She would never look squarely at these dream forms
that mocked the social order in which she lived, never admit she
listened to the soft whisperings in her ear. But Manning seemed more and
more clearly indicated as a refuge, as security. Certain simple purposes
emerged from the disingenuous muddle of her feelings and desires. Seeing
Capes from day to day made a bright eventfulness that hampered her in
the course she had resolved to follow. She vanished from the laboratory
for a week, a week of oddly interesting days....
When she renewed her attendance at the Imperial College the third finger
of her left hand was adorned with a very fine old ring with dark blue
sapphires that had once belonged to a great-aunt of Manning's.
That ring manifestly occupied her thoughts a great deal. She kept
pausing in her work and regarding it, and when Capes came round to her,
she first put her hand in her lap and then rather awkwardly in front of
him. But men are often blind to rings. He seemed to be.
In the afternoon she had considered certain doubts very carefully,
and decided on a more emphatic course of action. "Are these ordinary
sapphires?" she said. He bent to her hand, and she slipped off the ring
and gave it to him to examine.
"Very good," he said. "Rather darker than most of them. But I'm
generously ignorant of gems. Is it an old ring?" he asked, returning it.
"I believe it is. It's an engagement ring...." She slipped it on her
finger, and added, in a voice she tried to make matter-of-fact: "It was
given to me last week."
"Oh!" he said, in a colorless tone, and with his eyes on her face.
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