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|The Collapse Of The Penitent||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 2||
Spring had held back that year until the dawn of May, and then spring and summer came with a rush together. Two days after this conversation between Manning and Ann Veronica, Capes came into the laboratory at lunch-time and found her alone there standing by the open window, and not even pretending to be doing anything.
He came in with his hands in his trousers pockets and a general air of depression in his bearing. He was engaged in detesting Manning and himself in almost equal measure. His face brightened at the sight of her, and he came toward her.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"Nothing," said Ann Veronica, and stared over her shoulder out of the window.
"So am I. . . . Lassitude?"
"I suppose so."
"I can't work."
"Nor I," said Ann Veronica.
"It's the spring," he said. "It's the warming up of the year, the coming of the light mornings, the way in which everything begins to run about and begin new things. Work becomes distasteful; one thinks of holidays. This year--I've got it badly. I want to get away. I've never wanted to get away so much."
"Where do you go?"
"That's rather a fine sort of holiday!"
He made no answer for three or four seconds.
"Yes," he said, "I want to get away. I feel at moments as though I could bolt for it. . . . Silly, isn't it? Undisciplined."
He went to the window and fidgeted with the blind, looking out to where the tree-tops of Regent's Park showed distantly over the houses. He turned round toward her and found her looking at him and standing very still.
"It's the stir of spring," he said.
"I believe it is."
She glanced out of the window, and the distant trees were a froth of hard spring green and almond blossom. She formed a wild resolution, and, lest she should waver from it, she set about at once to realize it. "I've broken off my engagement," she said, in a matter-of-fact tone, and found her heart thumping in her neck. He moved slightly, and she went on, with a slight catching of her breath: "It's a bother and disturbance, but you see--" She had to go through with it now, because she could think of nothing but her preconceived words. Her voice was weak and flat.
"I've fallen in love."
He never helped her by a sound.
"I--I didn't love the man I was engaged to," she said. She met his eyes for a moment, and could not interpret their expression. They struck her as cold and indifferent.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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