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standard expression of a strong soul wrung with a critical coldness that
astonished herself. She realized dimly that there was no personal thing
behind his cry, that countless myriads of Mannings had "My God!"-ed with
an equal gusto at situations as flatly apprehended. This mitigated
her remorse enormously. He rested his brow on his hand and conveyed
magnificent tragedy by his pose.
"But why," he said in the gasping voice of one subduing an agony, and
looked at her from under a pain-wrinkled brow, "why did you not tell me
"I didn't know--I thought I might be able to control myself."
"And you can't?"
"I don't think I ought to control myself."
"And I have been dreaming and thinking--"
"I am frightfully sorry...."
"But--This bolt from the blue! My God! Ann Veronica, you don't
understand. This--this shatters a world!"
She tried to feel sorry, but her sense of his immense egotism was strong
He went on with intense urgency.
"Why did you ever let me love you? Why did you ever let me peep through
the gates of Paradise? Oh! my God! I don't begin to feel and realize
this yet. It seems to me just talk; it seems to me like the fancy of a
dream. Tell me I haven't heard. This is a joke of yours." He made his
voice very low and full, and looked closely into her face.
She twisted her fingers tightly. "It isn't a joke," she said. "I feel
shabby and disgraced.... I ought never to have thought of it. Of you,
He fell back in his chair with an expression of tremendous desolation.
"My God!" he said again....
They became aware of the waitress standing over them with book and
pencil ready for their bill. "Never mind the bill," said Manning
tragically, standing up and thrusting a four-shilling piece into her
hand, and turning a broad back on her astonishment. "Let us walk across
the Park at least," he said to Ann Veronica. "Just at present my mind
simply won't take hold of this at all.... I tell you--never mind the
bill. Keep it! Keep it!"
They walked a long way that afternoon. They crossed the Park to the
westward, and then turned back and walked round the circle about the
Royal Botanical Gardens and then southwardly toward Waterloo. They
trudged and talked, and Manning struggled, as he said, to "get the hang
of it all."
It was a long, meandering talk, stupid, shameful, and unavoidable. Ann
Veronica was apologetic to the bottom of her soul. At the same time she
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