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home. Doctor Ralph came in to tea and put his arm round Alice and kissed
her, and Alice called him "Squiggles," and stood in the shelter of his
arms for a moment with an expression of satisfied proprietorship. She
HAD cried, Ann Veronica knew. There had been fusses and scenes dimly
apprehended through half-open doors. She had heard Alice talking and
crying at the same time, a painful noise. Perhaps marriage hurt. But now
it was all over, and Alice was getting on well. It reminded Ann Veronica
of having a tooth stopped.
And after that Alice became remoter than ever, and, after a time, ill.
Then she had a baby and became as old as any really grown-up person, or
older, and very dull. Then she and her husband went off to a Yorkshire
practice, and had four more babies, none of whom photographed well, and
so she passed beyond the sphere of Ann Veronica's sympathies altogether.
The Gwen affair happened when she was away at school at
Marticombe-on-Sea, a term before she went to the High School, and was
never very clear to her.
Her mother missed writing for a week, and then she wrote in an unusual
key. "My dear," the letter ran, "I have to tell you that your sister
Gwen has offended your father very much. I hope you will always love
her, but I want you to remember she has offended your father and married
without his consent. Your father is very angry, and will not have her
name mentioned in his hearing. She has married some one he could not
approve of, and gone right away...."
When the next holidays came Ann Veronica's mother was ill, and Gwen was
in the sick-room when Ann Veronica returned home. She was in one of her
old walking-dresses, her hair was done in an unfamiliar manner, she wore
a wedding-ring, and she looked as if she had been crying.
"Hello, Gwen!" said Ann Veronica, trying to put every one at their ease.
"Been and married?... What's the name of the happy man?"
Gwen owned to "Fortescue."
"Got a photograph of him or anything?" said Ann Veronica, after kissing
Gwen made an inquiry, and, directed by Mrs. Stanley, produced a portrait
from its hiding-place in the jewel-drawer under the mirror. It presented
a clean-shaven face with a large Corinthian nose, hair tremendously
waving off the forehead and more chin and neck than is good for a man.
"LOOKS all right," said Ann Veronica, regarding him with her head first
on one side and then on the other, and trying to be agreeable. "What's
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