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to stultify herself with such "household arts" as _knitting_ and
_embroidery_), yet immediately afterward pick up a book and let her
imagination rove as a formless cloud with the wind. Deepest of all in
her personality was the golden radiance that she diffused around her.
As an open fire in a dark room throws romance and pathos into the quiet
faces at its edge, so she cast her lights and shadows around the rooms
that held her, until she made of her prosy old uncle a man of quaint and
meditative charm, metamorphosed the stray telegraph boy into a Puck-like
creature of delightful originality. At first this quality of hers
somehow irritated Amory. He considered his own uniqueness sufficient,
and it rather embarrassed him when she tried to read new interests into
him for the benefit of what other adorers were present. He felt as if
a polite but insistent stage-manager were attempting to make him give a
new interpretation of a part he had conned for years.
But Clara talking, Clara telling a slender tale of a hatpin and an
inebriated man and herself.... People tried afterward to repeat her
anecdotes but for the life of them they could make them sound like
nothing whatever. They gave her a sort of innocent attention and the
best smiles many of them had smiled for long; there were few tears in
Clara, but people smiled misty-eyed at her.
Very occasionally Amory stayed for little half-hours after the rest of
the court had gone, and they would have bread and jam and tea late in
the afternoon or "maple-sugar lunches," as she called them, at night.
"You _are_ remarkable, aren't you!" Amory was becoming trite from where
he perched in the centre of the dining-room table one six o'clock.
"Not a bit," she answered. She was searching out napkins in the
sideboard. "I'm really most humdrum and commonplace. One of those people
who have no interest in anything but their children."
"Tell that to somebody else," scoffed Amory. "You know you're perfectly
effulgent." He asked her the one thing that he knew might embarrass her.
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