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of the things I've just been thinking over. Suppose--suppose a girl
did want to start in life, start in life for herself--" She looked him
frankly in the eyes. "What ought she to do?"
"Yes, suppose I--"
He felt that his advice was being asked. He became a little more
personal and intimate. "I wonder what you could do?" he said. "I should
think YOU could do all sorts of things....
"What ought you to do?" He began to produce his knowledge of the world
for her benefit, jerkily and allusively, and with a strong, rank flavor
of "savoir faire." He took an optimist view of her chances. Ann Veronica
listened thoughtfully, with her eyes on the turf, and now and then she
asked a question or looked up to discuss a point. In the meanwhile,
as he talked, he scrutinized her face, ran his eyes over her careless,
gracious poise, wondered hard about her. He described her privately to
himself as a splendid girl. It was clear she wanted to get away from
home, that she was impatient to get away from home. Why? While the front
of his mind was busy warning her not to fall into the hopeless miseries
of underpaid teaching, and explaining his idea that for women of
initiative, quite as much as for men, the world of business had by far
the best chances, the back chambers of his brain were busy with the
problem of that "Why?"
His first idea as a man of the world was to explain her unrest by a
lover, some secret or forbidden or impossible lover. But he dismissed
that because then she would ask her lover and not him all these things.
Restlessness, then, was the trouble, simple restlessness: home bored
her. He could quite understand the daughter of Mr. Stanley being bored
and feeling limited. But was that enough? Dim, formless suspicions
of something more vital wandered about his mind. Was the young lady
impatient for experience? Was she adventurous? As a man of the world he
did not think it becoming to accept maidenly calm as anything more than
a mask. Warm life was behind that always, even if it slept. If it
was not an actual personal lover, it still might be the lover not yet
incarnate, not yet perhaps suspected....
He had diverged only a little from the truth when he said that his
chief interest in life was women. It wasn't so much women as Woman that
engaged his mind. His was the Latin turn of thinking; he had fallen
in love at thirteen, and he was still capable--he prided himself--of
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