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|Discords||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 5 of 6||
She turned her eyes to him again, and saw her late friend and pleasant and trusted companion, who had seen fit suddenly to change into a lover, babbling interesting inacceptable things. He looked eager and flushed and troubled. His eyes caught at hers with passionate inquiries. "Tell me," he said; "speak to me." She realized it was possible to be sorry for him--acutely sorry for the situation. Of course this thing was absolutely impossible. But she was disturbed, mysteriously disturbed. She remembered abruptly that she was really living upon his money. She leaned forward and addressed him.
"Mr. Ramage," she said, "please don't talk like this."
He made to speak and did not.
"I don't want you to do it, to go on talking to me. I don't want to hear you. If I had known that you had meant to talk like this I wouldn't have come here."
"But how can I help it? How can I keep silence?"
"Please!" she insisted. "Please not now."
"I MUST talk with you. I must say what I have to say!"
"But not now--not here."
"It came," he said. "I never planned it-- And now I have begun--"
She felt acutely that he was entitled to explanations, and as acutely that explanations were impossible that night. She wanted to think.
"Mr. Ramage," she said, "I can't-- Not now. Will you please-- Not now, or I must go."
He stared at her, trying to guess at the mystery of her thoughts.
"You don't want to go?"
"No. But I must--I ought--"
"I MUST talk about this. Indeed I must."
"But I love you. I love you--unendurably."
"Then don't talk to me now. I don't want you to talk to me now. There is a place-- This isn't the place. You have misunderstood.
I can't explain--"
They regarded one another, each blinded to the other. "Forgive me," he decided to say at last, and his voice had a little quiver of emotion, and he laid his hand on hers upon her knee. "I am the most foolish of men. I was stupid--stupid and impulsive beyond measure to burst upon you in this way. I--I am a love-sick idiot, and not accountable for my actions. Will you forgive me--if I say no more?"
She looked at him with perplexed, earnest eyes.
"Pretend," he said, "that all I have said hasn't been said. And let us go on with our evening. Why not? Imagine I've had a fit of hysteria--and that I've come round."
"Yes," she said, and abruptly she liked him enormously. She felt this was the sensible way out of this oddly sinister situation.
He still watched her and questioned her.
"And let us have a talk about this--some other time. Somewhere, where we can talk without interruption. Will you?"
She thought, and it seemed to him she had never looked so self-disciplined and deliberate and beautiful. "Yes," she said, "that is what we ought to do." But now she doubted again of the quality of the armistice they had just made.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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