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Tea-table Talk Jerome K. Jerome

Chapter I

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"He hung about her while she was dressing in the morning. Just as she had got her hair fixed he would kiss it passionately and it would come down again. All meal-time he would hold her hand under the table and insist on feeding her with a fork. Before marriage he had behaved once or twice in this sort of way at picnics; and after marriage, when at breakfast-time he had sat at the other end of the table reading the paper or his letters, she had reminded him of it reproachfully. The entire day he never left her side. She could never read a book; instead, he would read to her aloud, generally Browning' poems or translations from Goethe. Reading aloud was not an accomplishment of his, but in their courting days she had expressed herself pleased at his attempts, and of this he took care, in his turn, to remind her. It was his idea that if the game were played at all, she should take a hand also. If he was to blither, it was only fair that she should bleat back. As he explained, for the future they would both be lovers all their life long; and no logical argument in reply could she think of. If she tried to write a letter, he would snatch away the paper her dear hands were pressing and fall to kissing it--and, of course, smearing it. When he wasn't giving her pins and needles by sitting on her feet he was balancing himself on the arm of her chair and occasionally falling over on top of her. If she went shopping, he went with her and made himself ridiculous at the dressmaker's. In society he took no notice of anybody but of her, and was hurt if she spoke to anybody but to him. Not that it was often, during that month, that they did see any society; most invitations he refused for them both, reminding her how once upon a time she had regarded an evening alone with him as an entertainment superior to all others. He called her ridiculous names, talked to her in baby language; while a dozen times a day it became necessary for her to take down her back hair and do it up afresh. At the end of a month, as I have said, it was she who suggested a slight cessation of affection."

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"Had I been in her place," said the Girton Girl, "it would have been a separation I should have suggested. I should have hated him for the rest of my life."

"For merely trying to agree with you?" I said.

"For showing me I was a fool for ever having wanted his affection," replied the Girton Girl.

"You can generally," said the Philosopher, "make people ridiculous by taking them at their word."

"Especially women," murmured the Minor Poet.

"I wonder," said the Philosopher, "is there really so much difference between men and women as we think? What there is, may it not be the result of Civilisation rather than of Nature, of training rather than of instinct?"

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Tea-table Talk
Jerome K. Jerome

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