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"I suppose she ought to know?" said Gwen to her mother, trying to alter
the key of the conversation.
"You see, Vee," said Mrs. Stanley, "Mr. Fortescue is an actor, and your
father does not approve of the profession."
"Oh!" said Ann Veronica. "I thought they made knights of actors?"
"They may of Hal some day," said Gwen. "But it's a long business."
"I suppose this makes you an actress?" said Ann Veronica.
"I don't know whether I shall go on," said Gwen, a novel note of
languorous professionalism creeping into her voice. "The other women
don't much like it if husband and wife work together, and I don't think
Hal would like me to act away from him."
Ann Veronica regarded her sister with a new respect, but the traditions
of family life are strong. "I don't suppose you'll be able to do it
much," said Ann Veronica.
Later Gwen's trouble weighed so heavily on Mrs. Stanley in her illness
that her husband consented to receive Mr. Fortescue in the drawing-room,
and actually shake hands with him in an entirely hopeless manner and
hope everything would turn out for the best.
The forgiveness and reconciliation was a cold and formal affair, and
afterwards her father went off gloomily to his study, and Mr. Fortescue
rambled round the garden with soft, propitiatory steps, the Corinthian
nose upraised and his hands behind his back, pausing to look long and
hard at the fruit-trees against the wall.
Ann Veronica watched him from the dining-room window, and after some
moments of maidenly hesitation rambled out into the garden in a reverse
direction to Mr. Fortescue's steps, and encountered him with an air of
"Hello!" said Ann Veronica, with arms akimbo and a careless, breathless
manner. "You Mr. Fortescue?"
"At your service. You Ann Veronica?"
"Rather! I say--did you marry Gwen?"
Mr. Fortescue raised his eyebrows and assumed a light-comedy expression.
"I suppose I fell in love with her, Ann Veronica."
"Rum," said Ann Veronica. "Have you got to keep her now?"
"To the best of my ability," said Mr. Fortescue, with a bow.
"Have you much ability?" asked Ann Veronica.
Mr. Fortescue tried to act embarrassment in order to conceal its
reality, and Ann Veronica went on to ask a string of questions about
acting, and whether her sister would act, and was she beautiful enough
for it, and who would make her dresses, and so on.
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