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|Ann Veronica Puts Things In Order||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 2||
Pursuant to some altogether private calculations she did not go up to the Imperial College until after mid-day, and she found the laboratory deserted, even as she desired. She went to the table under the end window at which she had been accustomed to work, and found it swept and garnished with full bottles of re-agents. Everything was very neat; it had evidently been straightened up and kept for her. She put down the sketch-books and apparatus she had brought with her, pulled out her stool, and sat down. As she did so the preparation-room door opened behind her. She heard it open, but as she felt unable to look round in a careless manner she pretended not to hear it. Then Capes' footsteps approached. She turned with an effort.
"I expected you this morning," he said. "I saw--they knocked off your fetters yesterday."
"I think it is very good of me to come this afternoon."
"I began to be afraid you might not come at all."
"Yes. I'm glad you're back for all sorts of reasons." He spoke a little nervously. "Among other things, you know, I didn't understand quite--I didn't understand that you were so keenly interested in this suffrage question. I have it on my conscience that I offended you--"
"Offended me when?"
"I've been haunted by the memory of you. I was rude and stupid. We were talking about the suffrage--and I rather scoffed."
"You weren't rude," she said.
"I didn't know you were so keen on this suffrage business."
"Nor I. You haven't had it on your mind all this time?"
"I have rather. I felt somehow I'd hurt you."
"You didn't. I--I hurt myself."
"I behaved like an idiot, that's all. My nerves were in rags. I was worried. We're the hysterical animal, Mr. Capes. I got myself locked up to cool off. By a sort of instinct. As a dog eats grass. I'm right again now."
"Because your nerves were exposed, that was no excuse for my touching them. I ought to have seen--"
"It doesn't matter a rap--if you're not disposed to resent the--the way I behaved."
"I was only sorry I'd been so stupid."
"Well, I take it we're straight again," said Capes with a note of relief, and assumed an easier position on the edge of her table. "But if you weren't keen on the suffrage business, why on earth did you go to prison?"
Ann Veronica reflected. "It was a phase," she said.
He smiled. "It's a new phase in the life history," he remarked. "Everybody seems to have it now. Everybody who's going to develop into a woman."
"There's Miss Garvice."
"She's coming on," said Capes. "And, you know, you're altering us all. I'M shaken. The campaign's a success." He met her questioning eye, and repeated, "Oh! it IS a success. A man is so apt to--to take women a little too lightly. Unless they remind him now and then not to. . . . YOU did."
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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