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He beamed upon her.
"I don't think you realize," Ann Veronica began again, "that I am rather
a defective human being."
"I don't want to," said Manning. "They say there are spots on the sun.
Not for me. It warms me, and lights me, and fills my world with flowers.
Why should I peep at it through smoked glass to see things that don't
affect me?" He smiled his delight at his companion.
"I've got bad faults."
He shook his head slowly, smiling mysteriously.
"But perhaps I want to confess them."
"I grant you absolution."
"I don't want absolution. I want to make myself visible to you."
"I wish I could make you visible to yourself. I don't believe in the
faults. They're just a joyous softening of the outline--more beautiful
than perfection. Like the flaws of an old marble. If you talk of your
faults, I shall talk of your splendors."
"I do want to tell you things, nevertheless."
"We'll have, thank God! ten myriad days to tell each other things. When
I think of it--"
"But these are things I want to tell you now!"
"I made a little song of it. Let me say it to you. I've no name for it
yet. Epithalamy might do.
"Like him who stood on Darien
I view uncharted sea
Ten thousand days, ten thousand nights
Before my Queen and me.
"And that only brings me up to about sixty-five!
"A glittering wilderness of time
That to the sunset reaches
No keel as yet its waves has ploughed
Or gritted on its beaches.
"And we will sail that splendor wide,
From day to day together,
From isle to isle of happiness
Through year's of God's own weather."
"Yes," said his prospective fellow-sailor, "that's very pretty." She
stopped short, full of things un-said. Pretty! Ten thousand days, ten
"You shall tell me your faults," said Manning. "If they matter to you,
"It isn't precisely faults," said Ann Veronica. "It's something that
bothers me." Ten thousand! Put that way it seemed so different.
"Then assuredly!" said Manning.
She found a little difficulty in beginning. She was glad when he went
on: "I want to be your city of refuge from every sort of bother. I want
to stand between you and all the force and vileness of the world. I want
to make you feel that here is a place where the crowd does not clamor
nor ill-winds blow."
"That is all very well," said Ann Veronica, unheeded.
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