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|Crome Yellow||Aldous Huxley|
|Page 3 of 3||
"But who?" A thoughtful frown puckered Mary's brow. "It must be somebody intelligent, somebody with intellectual interests that I can share. And it must be somebody with a proper respect for women, somebody who's prepared to talk seriously about his work and his ideas and about my work and my ideas. It isn't, as you see, at all easy to find the right person."
"Well" said Anne, "there are three unattached and intelligent men in the house at the present time. There's Mr. Scogan, to begin with; but perhaps he's rather too much of a genuine antique. And there are Gombauld and Denis. Shall we say that the choice is limited to the last two?"
Mary nodded. "I think we had better," she said, and then hesitated, with a certain air of embarrassment.
"What is it?"
"I was wondering," said Mary, with a gasp, "whether they really were unattached. I thought that perhaps you might...you might..."
"It was very nice of you to think of me, Mary darling," said Anne, smiling the tight cat's smile. "But as far as I'm concerned, they are both entirely unattached."
"I'm very glad of that," said Mary, looking relieved. "We are now confronted with the question: Which of the two?"
"I can give no advice. It's a matter for your taste."
"It's not a matter of my taste," Mary pronounced, "but of their merits. We must weigh them and consider them carefully and dispassionately."
"You must do the weighing yourself," said Anne; there was still the trace of a smile at the corners of her mouth and round the half-closed eyes. "I won't run the risk of advising you wrongly."
"Gombauld has more talent," Mary began, "but he is less civilised than Denis." Mary's pronunciation of "civilised" gave the word a special and additional significance. She uttered it meticulously, in the very front of her mouth, hissing delicately on the opening sibilant. So few people were civilised, and they, like the first-rate works of art, were mostly French. "Civilisation is most important, don't you think?"
Anne held up her hand. "I won't advise," she said. "You must make the decision."
"Gombauld's family," Mary went on reflectively, "comes from Marseilles. Rather a dangerous heredity, when one thinks of the Latin attitude towards women. But then, I sometimes wonder whether Denis is altogether serious-minded, whether he isn't rather a dilettante. It's very difficult. What do you think?"
"I'm not listening," said Anne. "I refuse to take any responsibility."
Mary sighed. "Well," she said, "I think I had better go to bed and think about it."
"Carefully and dispassionately," said Anne.
At the door Mary turned round. "Good-night," she said, and wondered as she said the words why Anne was smiling in that curious way. It was probably nothing, she reflected. Anne often smiled for no apparent reason; it was probably just a habit. "I hope I shan't dream of falling down wells again to-night," she added.
"Ladders are worse," said Anne.
Mary nodded. "Yes, ladders are much graver."
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