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falling in love. His invalid wife and her money had been only the thin
thread that held his life together; beaded on that permanent relation
had been an inter-weaving series of other feminine experiences,
disturbing, absorbing, interesting, memorable affairs. Each one had
been different from the others, each had had a quality all its own, a
distinctive freshness, a distinctive beauty. He could not understand how
men could live ignoring this one predominant interest, this wonderful
research into personality and the possibilities of pleasing, these
complex, fascinating expeditions that began in interest and mounted to
the supremest, most passionate intimacy. All the rest of his existence
was subordinate to this pursuit; he lived for it, worked for it, kept
himself in training for it.
So while he talked to this girl of work and freedom, his slightly
protuberant eyes were noting the gracious balance of her limbs and body
across the gate, the fine lines of her chin and neck. Her grave fine
face, her warm clear complexion, had already aroused his curiosity as he
had gone to and fro in Morningside Park, and here suddenly he was
near to her and talking freely and intimately. He had found her in
a communicative mood, and he used the accumulated skill of years in
turning that to account.
She was pleased and a little flattered by his interest and sympathy. She
became eager to explain herself, to show herself in the right light. He
was manifestly exerting his mind for her, and she found herself fully
disposed to justify his interest.
She, perhaps, displayed herself rather consciously as a fine
person unduly limited. She even touched lightly on her father's
"I wonder," said Ramage, "that more girls don't think as you do and want
to strike out in the world."
And then he speculated. "I wonder if you will?"
"Let me say one thing," he said. "If ever you do and I can help you
in any way, by advice or inquiry or recommendation--You see, I'm no
believer in feminine incapacity, but I do perceive there is such a thing
as feminine inexperience. As a sex you're a little under-trained--in
affairs. I'd take it--forgive me if I seem a little urgent--as a sort of
proof of friendliness. I can imagine nothing more pleasant in life than
to help you, because I know it would pay to help you. There's something
about you, a little flavor of Will, I suppose, that makes one feel--good
luck about you and success...."
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