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CHAPTER THE THIRD
THE MORNING OF THE CRISIS
Two days after came the day of the Crisis, the day of the Fadden Dance.
It would have been a crisis anyhow, but it was complicated in Ann
Veronica's mind by the fact that a letter lay on the breakfast-table
from Mr. Manning, and that her aunt focussed a brightly tactful
disregard upon this throughout the meal. Ann Veronica had come down
thinking of nothing in the world but her inflexible resolution to go to
the dance in the teeth of all opposition. She did not know Mr. Manning's
handwriting, and opened his letter and read some lines before its import
appeared. Then for a time she forgot the Fadden affair altogether.
With a well-simulated unconcern and a heightened color she finished her
She was not obliged to go to the Tredgold College, because as yet the
College had not settled down for the session. She was supposed to be
reading at home, and after breakfast she strolled into the vegetable
garden, and having taken up a position upon the staging of a disused
greenhouse that had the double advantage of being hidden from the
windows of the house and secure from the sudden appearance of any one,
she resumed the reading of Mr. Manning's letter.
Mr. Manning's handwriting had an air of being clear without being easily
legible; it was large and rather roundish, with a lack of definition
about the letters and a disposition to treat the large ones as
liberal-minded people nowadays treat opinions, as all amounting to the
same thing really--a years-smoothed boyish rather than an adult hand.
And it filled seven sheets of notepaper, each written only on one side.
"MY DEAR MISS STANLEY," it began,--"I hope you will forgive my
bothering you with a letter, but I have been thinking very much over our
conversation at Lady Palsworthy's, and I feel there are things I want
to say to you so much that I cannot wait until we meet again. It is the
worst of talk under such social circumstances that it is always getting
cut off so soon as it is beginning; and I went home that afternoon
feeling I had said nothing--literally nothing--of the things I had meant
to say to you and that were coursing through my head. They were things I
had meant very much to talk to you about, so that I went home vexed and
disappointed, and only relieved myself a little by writing a few verses.
I wonder if you will mind very much when I tell you they were suggested
by you. You must forgive the poet's license I take. Here is one verse.
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