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He suspects she's flirting with him. It's far from disagreeable, but, perversely, it makes him think of his mother. How many acceptable young girls has she trailed discreetly before him, like feathered fishing lures? She arranges them, always, next to a vase of white flowers. Their morals have been irreproachable, their manners candid as spring water; their minds have been presented to him as unbaked pieces of dough which it would be his prerogative to mould and form. As one season's crop of girls proceeds into engagement and marriage, younger ones keep sprouting up, like tulips in May. They are now so young in relation to Simon that he has trouble conversing with them; it's like talking to a basketful of kittens.
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