The outer door burst open and Jennifer erupted into the room. “Dad — ” Her glance froze on Faust, sitting before the fire still fingering the cigarette case, and she stopped so short her hair swung across her chin.
He stared back for another of those horrible moments. It was the same young woman he had seen guarding Woodrow’s back porch with a shotgun, that was obvious. But at the same time, it wasn’t the same woman at all. There was nothing of Anne Boleyn here, much less Campaspe, and images of coral lips and roses in her cheeks seemed suddenly sophomoric and embarrassing. This was a practical, unpoetical female in brogues and country tweeds, with her hair unbrushed and a smudge of dirt on her nose, and even Shakespeare couldn’t make more of her than that.
And she wasn’t even good-looking, much less beautiful. Too many of her facial features argued with each other. Her eyes were generously separated and glowed hazel in her clear skin, but her mouth was too wide and her nose too small, as if they belonged on different faces entirely. Her figure and legs were worth the look, but her prettiest feature was easily her glorious auburn hair, although the bob did little for her heart-shaped face except frame it. Even for a second, even all the way across the garden, even during the agony of that moment, how could he have considered her the most beautiful girl in the world?
But he couldn’t help overhearing her words with Stoner.
“I’ve just spoken with Sally, and Harriet didn’t return with her. Do you know if she came back earlier?”
“No,” Stoner said, “I don’t believe so. But you might check upstairs.”
Faust expected that, with her energy, Jennifer would thunder up the wooden staircase. But he didn’t hear her footsteps at all. Surprised, he glanced about the room, but she truly had left, and he imagined he caught a glimpse of her tweed skirt disappearing from view at the top of the stairs.
So which is she: the most beautiful girl in the world, or a plain young woman with a smudge of dirt on her face? Well, that's the good thing about the world of poetry, Faust's world. She can be both at the same time.
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