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hunting her sentence.
Through early March he took to going to Philadelphia for week-ends.
Almost always there was some one else there and she seemed not anxious
to see him alone, for many occasions presented themselves when a word
from her would have given him another delicious half-hour of adoration.
But he fell gradually in love and began to speculate wildly on marriage.
Though this design flowed through his brain even to his lips, still
he knew afterward that the desire had not been deeply rooted. Once he
dreamt that it had come true and woke up in a cold panic, for in his
dream she had been a silly, flaxen Clara, with the gold gone out of her
hair and platitudes falling insipidly from her changeling tongue. But
she was the first fine woman he ever knew and one of the few good people
who ever interested him. She made her goodness such an asset. Amory
had decided that most good people either dragged theirs after them as a
liability, or else distorted it to artificial geniality, and of course
there were the ever-present prig and Pharisee--(but Amory never included
_them_ as being among the saved).
"Over her gray and velvet dress,
Under her molten, beaten hair,
Color of rose in mock distress
Flushes and fades and makes her fair;
Fills the air from her to him
With light and languor and little sighs,
Just so subtly he scarcely knows...
Laughing lightning, color of rose."
"Do you like me?"
"Of course I do," said Clara seriously.
"Well, we have some qualities in common. Things that are spontaneous in
each of us--or were originally."
"You're implying that I haven't used myself very well?"
"Well, I can't judge. A man, of course, has to go through a lot more,
and I've been sheltered."
"Oh, don't stall, please, Clara," Amory interrupted; "but do talk about
me a little, won't you?"
"Surely, I'd adore to." She didn't smile.
"That's sweet of you. First answer some questions. Am I painfully
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