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The thing rankled in her mind night and day. She would wake in the night
to repeat her bitter cry: "Oh, why did I burn those notes?"
It added greatly to the annoyance of the situation that she had twice
seen Ramage in the Avenue since her return to the shelter of her
father's roof. He had saluted her with elaborate civility, his eyes
distended with indecipherable meanings.
She felt she was bound in honor to tell the whole affair to Manning
sooner or later. Indeed, it seemed inevitable that she must clear it up
with his assistance, or not at all. And when Manning was not about
the thing seemed simple enough. She would compose extremely lucid and
honorable explanations. But when it came to broaching them, it proved to
be much more difficult than she had supposed.
They went down the great staircase of the building, and, while she
sought in her mind for a beginning, he broke into appreciation of her
simple dress and self-congratulations upon their engagement.
"It makes me feel," he said, "that nothing is impossible--to have you
here beside me. I said, that day at Surbiton, 'There's many good things
in life, but there's only one best, and that's the wild-haired girl
who's pulling away at that oar. I will make her my Grail, and some day,
perhaps, if God wills, she shall become my wife!'"
He looked very hard before him as he said this, and his voice was full
of deep feeling.
"Grail!" said Ann Veronica, and then: "Oh, yes--of course! Anything but
a holy one, I'm afraid."
"Altogether holy, Ann Veronica. Ah! but you can't imagine what you are
to me and what you mean to me! I suppose there is something mystical and
wonderful about all women."
"There is something mystical and wonderful about all human beings. I
don't see that men need bank it with the women."
"A man does," said Manning--"a true man, anyhow. And for me there is
only one treasure-house. By Jove! When I think of it I want to leap and
"It would astonish that man with the barrow."
"It astonishes me that I don't," said Manning, in a tone of intense
"I think," began Ann Veronica, "that you don't realize--"
He disregarded her entirely. He waved an arm and spoke with a peculiar
resonance. "I feel like a giant! I believe now I shall do great things.
Gods! what it must be to pour out strong, splendid verse--mighty
lines! mighty lines! If I do, Ann Veronica, it will be you. It will be
altogether you. I will dedicate my books to you. I will lay them all at
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