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|Discords||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
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"I wonder," he said, "if women do know things by instinct? I have my doubts about feminine instinct. It's one of our conventional superstitions. A woman is supposed to know when a man is in love with her. Do you think she does?"
Ann Veronica picked among her salad with a judicial expression of face. "I think she would," she decided.
"Ah!" said Ramage, impressively.
Ann Veronica looked up at him and found him regarding her with eyes that were almost woebegone, and into which, indeed, he was trying to throw much more expression than they could carry. There was a little pause between them, full for Ann Veronica of rapid elusive suspicions and intimations.
"Perhaps one talks nonsense about a woman's instinct," she said. "It's a way of avoiding explanations. And girls and women, perhaps, are different. I don't know. I don't suppose a girl can tell if a man is in love with her or not in love with her." Her mind went off to Capes. Her thoughts took words for themselves. "She can't. I suppose it depends on her own state of mind. If one wants a thing very much, perhaps one is inclined to think one can't have it. I suppose if one were to love some one, one would feel doubtful. And if one were to love some one very much, it's just so that one would be blindest, just when one wanted most to see."
She stopped abruptly, afraid that Ramage might be able to infer Capes from the things she had said, and indeed his face was very eager.
"Yes?" he said.
Ann Veronica blushed. "That's all," she said "I'm afraid I'm a little confused about these things."
Ramage looked at her, and then fell into deep reflection as the waiter came to paragraph their talk again.
"Have you ever been to the opera, Ann Veronica?" said Ramage.
"Once or twice."
"Shall we go now?"
"I think I would like to listen to music. What is there?"
"I've never heard Tristan and Isolde."
"That settles it. We'll go. There's sure to be a place somewhere."
"It's rather jolly of you," said Ann Veronica.
"It's jolly of you to come," said Ramage.
So presently they got into a hansom together, and Ann Veronica sat back feeling very luxurious and pleasant, and looked at the light and stir and misty glitter of the street traffic from under slightly drooping eyelids, while Ramage sat closer to her than he need have done, and glanced ever and again at her face, and made to speak and said nothing. And when they got to Covent Garden Ramage secured one of the little upper boxes, and they came into it as the overture began.
Ann Veronica took off her jacket and sat down in the corner chair, and leaned forward to look into the great hazy warm brown cavity of the house, and Ramage placed his chair to sit beside her and near her, facing the stage. The music took hold of her slowly as her eyes wandered from the indistinct still ranks of the audience to the little busy orchestra with its quivering violins, its methodical movements of brown and silver instruments, its brightly lit scores and shaded lights. She had never been to the opera before except as one of a congested mass of people in the cheaper seats, and with backs and heads and women's hats for the frame of the spectacle; there was by contrast a fine large sense of space and ease in her present position. The curtain rose out of the concluding bars of the overture and revealed Isolde on the prow of the barbaric ship. The voice of the young seaman came floating down from the masthead, and the story of the immortal lovers had begun. She knew the story only imperfectly, and followed it now with a passionate and deepening interest. The splendid voices sang on from phase to phase of love's unfolding, the ship drove across the sea to the beating rhythm of the rowers. The lovers broke into passionate knowledge of themselves and each other, and then, a jarring intervention, came King Mark amidst the shouts of the sailormen, and stood beside them.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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