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first failure. Why was she noting things like this? Capes seemed
self-possessed and elaborately genial and commonplace, but she knew him
to be nervous by a little occasional clumsiness, by the faintest shadow
of vulgarity in the urgency of his hospitality. She wished he could
smoke and dull his nerves a little. A gust of irrational impatience blew
through her being. Well, they'd got to the pheasants, and in a little
while he would smoke. What was it she had expected? Surely her moods
were getting a little out of hand.
She wished her father and aunt would not enjoy their dinner with such
quiet determination. Her father and her husband, who had both been a
little pale at their first encounter, were growing now just faintly
flushed. It was a pity people had to eat food.
"I suppose," said her father, "I have read at least half the novels that
have been at all successful during the last twenty years. Three a week
is my allowance, and, if I get short ones, four. I change them in the
morning at Cannon Street, and take my book as I come down."
It occurred to her that she had never seen her father dining out
before, never watched him critically as an equal. To Capes he was almost
deferential, and she had never seen him deferential in the old time,
never. The dinner was stranger than she had ever anticipated. It was
as if she had grown right past her father into something older and
of infinitely wider outlook, as if he had always been unsuspectedly a
flattened figure, and now she had discovered him from the other side.
It was a great relief to arrive at last at that pause when she could say
to her aunt, "Now, dear?" and rise and hold back the curtain through the
archway. Capes and her father stood up, and her father made a belated
movement toward the curtain. She realized that he was the sort of man
one does not think much about at dinners. And Capes was thinking that
his wife was a supremely beautiful woman. He reached a silver cigar and
cigarette box from the sideboard and put it before his father-in-law,
and for a time the preliminaries of smoking occupied them both. Then
Capes flittered to the hearthrug and poked the fire, stood up, and
turned about. "Ann Veronica is looking very well, don't you think?" he
said, a little awkwardly.
"Very," said Mr. Stanley. "Very," and cracked a walnut appreciatively.
"Life--things--I don't think her prospects now--Hopeful outlook."
"You were in a difficult position," Mr. Stanley pronounced, and seemed
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