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Dangerous Days

Chapter 21
From the moment, the day before Christmas, when Graham had taken the little
watch from his pocket and fastened it on Anna's wrist, he was rather uneasily
aware that she had become his creature. He had had no intention of buying
Anna. He was certainly not in love with her. But he found her amusing and at
times comforting.
He had, of course, expected to lose her after the unlucky day when Clayton had
found them together, but Dunbar had advised that she be kept on for a time at
least. Mentally Graham figured that the first of January would see her gone, and
the thought of a Christmas present for her was partly compounded of remorse.
He had been buying a cigaret case for Marion when the thought came to him. He
had not bought a Christmas present for a girl, except flowers, since the first year
he was at college. He had sent Delight one that year, a half-dozen little leather-
bound books of poetry. What a precious young prig he must have been! He knew
now that girls only pretended to care for books. They wanted jewelry, and they
got past the family with it by pretending it was not real, or that they had bought it
out of their allowances. One of Toots' friends was taking a set of silver fox from a
man, and she was as straight as a die. Oh, he knew girls, now.
The next day he asked Anna Klein: "What would you like for Christmas?"
Anna, however, had insisted that she did not want a Christmas present.
Later on, however, she had seen a watch one of the girls on the hill had bought
for twelve dollars, and on his further insistence a day or so later she had said:
"Do you really want to know?" "Of course I do."
"You oughtn't to spend money on me, you know."
"You let me attend to that. Now, out with it!"
So she told him rather nervously, for she felt that twelve dollars was a
considerable sum. He had laughed, and agreed instantly, but when he went to
buy it he found himself paying a price that rather startled him.
"Don't you lose it, young lady!" he admonished her when, the day before
Christmas, he fastened it on her wrist. Then he had stooped down to kiss her,
and the intensity of feeling in her face had startled him. "It's a good watch," he
had said, rather uneasily; "no excuse for your being late now!"
All the rest of the day she was radiant.
He meant well enough even then. He had never pretended to love her. He
accepted her adoration, petted and teased her in return, worked off his
occasional ill humors on her, was indeed conscious sometimes that he was
behaving extremely well in keeping things as they were.
But by the middle of January he began to grow uneasy. The atmosphere at
Marion's was bad; there was a knowledge of life plus an easy toleration of certain
human frailties that was as insidious as a slow fever. The motto of live and let live
prevailed. And Marion refused to run away with him and marry him, or to let him
go to his father.
 
 
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