“But I can’t do that.”
“You see, if I do go home my father objects to the College, and as for typing—”
“Don’t go home.”
“Yes, but you forget; how am I to live?”
“Easily. Easily.... Borrow.... From me.”
“I couldn’t do that,” said Ann Veronica, sharply.
“I see no reason why you shouldn’t.”
“As one friend to another. Men are always doing it, and if you set up to be a man—”
“No, it’s absolutely out of the question, Mr. Ramage.” And Ann Veronica’s face was hot.
Ramage pursed his rather loose lips and shrugged his shoulders, with his eyes fixed steadily upon her. “Well anyhow—I don’t see the force of your objection, you know. That’s my advice to you. Here I am. Consider you’ve got resources deposited with me. Perhaps at the first blush—it strikes you as odd. People are brought up to be so shy about money. As though it was indelicate—it’s just a sort of shyness. But here I am to draw upon. Here I am as an alternative either to nasty work—or going home.”
“It’s very kind of you—” began Ann Veronica.
“Not a bit. Just a friendly polite suggestion. I don’t suggest any philanthropy. I shall charge you five per cent., you know, fair and square.”
Ann Veronica opened her lips quickly and did not speak. But the five per cent. certainly did seem to improve the aspect of Ramage’s suggestion.
“Well, anyhow, consider it open.” He dabbed with his paper-weight again, and spoke in an entirely indifferent tone. “And now tell me, please, how you eloped from Morningside Park. How did you get your luggage out of the house? Wasn’t it—wasn’t it rather in some respects—rather a lark? It’s one of my regrets for my lost youth. I never ran away from anywhere with anybody anywhen. And now—I suppose I should be considered too old. I don’t feel it.... Didn’t you feel rather eventful—in the train—coming up to Waterloo?”
Before Christmas Ann Veronica had gone to Ramage again and accepted this offer she had at first declined.
Many little things had contributed to that decision. The chief influence was her awakening sense of the need of money. She had been forced to buy herself that pair of boots and a walking-skirt, and the pearl necklace at the pawnbrokers’ had yielded very disappointingly. And, also, she wanted to borrow that money. It did seem in so many ways exactly what Ramage said it was—the sensible thing to do. There it was—to be borrowed. It would put the whole adventure on a broader and better footing; it seemed, indeed, almost the only possible way in which she might emerge from her rebellion with anything like success. If only for the sake of her argument with her home, she wanted success. And why, after all, should she not borrow money from Ramage?