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"Perhaps you don't. But a human being who is young and clean, as you
are, is apt to ennoble--or explain away."
"I've had a biological training. I'm a hard young woman."
"Nice clean hardness, anyhow. I think you are hard. There's
something--something ADULT about you. I'm talking to you now as though
you had all the wisdom and charity in the world. I'm going to tell you
things plainly. Plainly. It's best. And then you can go home and think
things over before we talk again. I want you to be clear what you're
really and truly up to, anyhow."
"I don't mind knowing," said Ann Veronica.
"It's precious unromantic."
"Well, tell me."
"I married pretty young," said Capes. "I've got--I have to tell you this
to make myself clear--a streak of ardent animal in my composition. I
married--I married a woman whom I still think one of the most beautiful
persons in the world. She is a year or so older than I am, and she is,
well, of a very serene and proud and dignified temperament. If you met
her you would, I am certain, think her as fine as I do. She has never
done a really ignoble thing that I know of--never. I met her when we
were both very young, as young as you are. I loved her and made love to
her, and I don't think she quite loved me back in the same way."
He paused for a time. Ann Veronica said nothing.
"These are the sort of things that aren't supposed to happen. They leave
them out of novels--these incompatibilities. Young people ignore them
until they find themselves up against them. My wife doesn't understand,
doesn't understand now. She despises me, I suppose.... We married,
and for a time we were happy. She was fine and tender. I worshipped her
and subdued myself."
He left off abruptly. "Do you understand what I am talking about? It's
no good if you don't."
"I think so," said Ann Veronica, and colored. "In fact, yes, I do."
"Do you think of these things--these matters--as belonging to our Higher
Nature or our Lower?"
"I don't deal in Higher Things, I tell you," said Ann Veronica, "or
Lower, for the matter of that. I don't classify." She hesitated. "Flesh
and flowers are all alike to me."
"That's the comfort of you. Well, after a time there came a fever in
my blood. Don't think it was anything better than fever--or a bit
beautiful. It wasn't. Quite soon, after we were married--it was just
within a year--I formed a friendship with the wife of a friend, a woman
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