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|Ann Veronica Gathers Points Of View||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 3 of 5||
The face that looked down upon Ann Veronica was full of amiable intention. "Splendid you are looking to-day, Miss Stanley," he said. "How well and jolly you must be feeling."
He beamed over the effect of this and shook hands with effusion, and Lady Palsworthy suddenly appeared as his confederate and disentangled the vicar's aunt.
"I love this warm end of summer more than words can tell," he said. "I've tried to make words tell it. It's no good. Mild, you know, and boon. You want music."
Ann Veronica agreed, and tried to make the manner of her assent cover a possible knowledge of a probable poem.
"Splendid it must be to be a composer. Glorious! The Pastoral. Beethoven; he's the best of them. Don't you think? Tum, tay, tum, tay."
Ann Veronica did.
"What have you been doing since our last talk? Still cutting up rabbits and probing into things? I've often thought of that talk of ours--often."
He did not appear to require any answer to his question.
"Often," he repeated, a little heavily.
"Beautiful these autumn flowers are," said Ann Veronica, in a wide, uncomfortable pause.
"Do come and see the Michaelmas daisies at the end of the garden," said Mr. Manning, "they're a dream." And Ann Veronica found herself being carried off to an isolation even remoter and more conspicuous than the corner of the lawn, with the whole of the party aiding and abetting and glancing at them. "Damn!" said Ann Veronica to herself, rousing herself for a conflict.
Mr. Manning told her he loved beauty, and extorted a similar admission from her; he then expatiated upon his own love of beauty. He said that for him beauty justified life, that he could not imagine a good action that was not a beautiful one nor any beautiful thing that could be altogether bad. Ann Veronica hazarded an opinion that as a matter of history some very beautiful people had, to a quite considerable extent, been bad, but Mr. Manning questioned whether when they were bad they were really beautiful or when they were beautiful bad. Ann Veronica found her attention wandering a little as he told her that he was not ashamed to feel almost slavish in the presence of really beautiful people, and then they came to the Michaelmas daisies. They were really very fine and abundant, with a blaze of perennial sunflowers behind them.
"They make me want to shout," said Mr. Manning, with a sweep of the arm.
"They're very good this year," said Ann Veronica, avoiding controversial matter.
"Either I want to shout," said Mr. Manning, "when I see beautiful things, or else I want to weep." He paused and looked at her, and said, with a sudden drop into a confidential undertone, "Or else I want to pray."
"When is Michaelmas Day?" said Ann Veronica, a little abruptly.
"Heaven knows!" said Mr. Manning; and added, "the twenty-ninth."
"I thought it was earlier," said Ann Veronica. "Wasn't Parliament to reassemble?"
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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