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have got it; but I have never yet wanted anything in my life as I have
wanted you. It isn't the same thing. I am afraid because I love you, so
that the mere thought of failure hurts. If I did not love you so much I
believe I could win you by sheer force of character, for people tell me
I am naturally of the dominating type. Most of my successes in life have
been made with a sort of reckless vigor.
"Well, I have said what I had to say, stumblingly and badly, and baldly.
But I am sick of tearing up letters and hopeless of getting what I have
to say better said. It would be easy enough for me to write an eloquent
letter about something else. Only I do not care to write about anything
else. Let me put the main question to you now that I could not put the
other afternoon. Will you marry me, Ann Veronica?
"Very sincerely yours,
Ann Veronica read this letter through with grave, attentive eyes.
Her interest grew as she read, a certain distaste disappeared. Twice she
smiled, but not unkindly. Then she went back and mixed up the sheets in
a search for particular passages. Finally she fell into reflection.
"Odd!" she said. "I suppose I shall have to write an answer. It's so
different from what one has been led to expect."
She became aware of her aunt, through the panes of the greenhouse,
advancing with an air of serene unconsciousness from among the raspberry
"No you don't!" said Ann Veronica, and walked out at a brisk and
business-like pace toward the house.
"I'm going for a long tramp, auntie," she said.
"Yes, aunt. I've got a lot of things to think about."
Miss Stanley reflected as Ann Veronica went toward the house. She
thought her niece very hard and very self-possessed and self-confident.
She ought to be softened and tender and confidential at this phase of
her life. She seemed to have no idea whatever of the emotional states
that were becoming to her age and position. Miss Stanley walked round
the garden thinking, and presently house and garden reverberated to Ann
Veronica's slamming of the front door.
"I wonder!" said Miss Stanley.
For a long time she surveyed a row of towering holly-hocks, as though
they offered an explanation. Then she went in and up-stairs, hesitated
on the landing, and finally, a little breathless and with an air of
great dignity, opened the door and walked into Ann Veronica's room. It
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