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0100_005E The Sapphire Ring H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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Table Of Contents: Ann Veronica

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He beamed upon her.

"I don't think you realize," Ann Veronica began again, "that I am rather a defective human being."

"I don't want to," said Manning. "They say there are spots on the sun. Not for me. It warms me, and lights me, and fills my world with flowers. Why should I peep at it through smoked glass to see things that don't affect me?" He smiled his delight at his companion.

"I've got bad faults."

He shook his head slowly, smiling mysteriously.

"But perhaps I want to confess them."

"I grant you absolution."

"I don't want absolution. I want to make myself visible to you."

"I wish I could make you visible to yourself. I don't believe in the faults. They're just a joyous softening of the outline--more beautiful than perfection. Like the flaws of an old marble. If you talk of your faults, I shall talk of your splendors."

"I do want to tell you things, nevertheless."

"We'll have, thank God! ten myriad days to tell each other things. When I think of it--"

"But these are things I want to tell you now!"

"I made a little song of it. Let me say it to you. I've no name for it yet. Epithalamy might do.

    "Like him who stood on Darien
    I view uncharted sea
    Ten thousand days, ten thousand nights
    Before my Queen and me.

"And that only brings me up to about sixty-five!

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    "A glittering wilderness of time
    That to the sunset reaches
    No keel as yet its waves has ploughed
    Or gritted on its beaches.

    "And we will sail that splendor wide,
    From day to day together,
    From isle to isle of happiness
    Through year's of God's own weather."

"Yes," said his prospective fellow-sailor, "that's very pretty." She stopped short, full of things un-said. Pretty! Ten thousand days, ten thousand nights!

"You shall tell me your faults," said Manning. "If they matter to you, they matter."

"It isn't precisely faults," said Ann Veronica. "It's something that bothers me." Ten thousand! Put that way it seemed so different.

"Then assuredly!" said Manning.

She found a little difficulty in beginning. She was glad when he went on: "I want to be your city of refuge from every sort of bother. I want to stand between you and all the force and vileness of the world. I want to make you feel that here is a place where the crowd does not clamor nor ill-winds blow."

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Ann Veronica
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells

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