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Capes made no answer for a time.
"My mind is full of confused stuff," he said at length. "I've been
thinking--all the afternoon. Oh, and weeks and months of thought and
feeling there are bottled up too.... I feel a mixture of beast and
uncle. I feel like a fraudulent trustee. Every rule is against me--Why
did I let you begin this? I might have told--"
"I don't see that you could help--"
"I might have helped--"
"I ought to have--all the same.
"I wonder," he said, and went off at a tangent. "You know about my
"Very little. It doesn't seem to matter. Does it?"
"I think it does. Profoundly."
"It prevents our marrying. It forbids--all sorts of things."
"It can't prevent our loving."
"I'm afraid it can't. But, by Jove! it's going to make our loving a
fiercely abstract thing."
"You are separated from your wife?"
"Yes, but do you know how?"
"Why on earth--? A man ought to be labelled. You see, I'm separated from
my wife. But she doesn't and won't divorce me. You don't understand
the fix I am in. And you don't know what led to our separation. And, in
fact, all round the problem you don't know and I don't see how I could
possibly have told you before. I wanted to, that day in the Zoo. But I
trusted to that ring of yours."
"Poor old ring!" said Ann Veronica.
"I ought never have gone to the Zoo, I suppose. I asked you to go. But
a man is a mixed creature.... I wanted the time with you. I wanted it
"Tell me about yourself," said Ann Veronica.
"To begin with, I was--I was in the divorce court. I was--I was a
co-respondent. You understand that term?"
Ann Veronica smiled faintly. "A modern girl does understand these terms.
She reads novels--and history--and all sorts of things. Did you really
doubt if I knew?"
"No. But I don't suppose you can understand."
"I don't see why I shouldn't."
"To know things by name is one thing; to know them by seeing them and
feeling them and being them quite another. That is where life takes
advantage of youth. You don't understand."
"Perhaps I don't."
"You don't. That's the difficulty. If I told you the facts, I expect,
since you are in love with me, you'd explain the whole business as being
very fine and honorable for me--the Higher Morality, or something of
that sort.... It wasn't."
"I don't deal very much," said Ann Veronica, "in the Higher Morality, or
the Higher Truth, or any of those things."
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