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|Ann Veronica Puts Things In Order||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 2 of 2||
Her heart sank at the change in his expression.
"Well, lodgings and things! And I paid my fees at the College."
"Yes. But how could you get--Who gave you credit?
"You see," said Ann Veronica, "my landlady kept on my room while I was in Holloway, and the fees for the College mounted up pretty considerably." She spoke rather quickly, because she found her father's question the most awkward she had ever had to answer in her life.
"Molly and you settled about the rooms. She said you HAD some money."
"I borrowed it," said Ann Veronica in a casual tone, with white despair in her heart.
"But who could have lent you money?"
"I pawned my pearl necklace. I got three pounds, and there's three on my watch."
"Six pounds. H'm. Got the tickets? Yes, but then--you said you borrowed?"
"I did, too," said Ann Veronica.
She met his eye for a second and her heart failed her. The truth was impossible, indecent. If she mentioned Ramage he might have a fit--anything might happen. She lied. "The Widgetts," she said.
"Tut, tut!" he said. "Really, Vee, you seem to have advertised our relations pretty generally!"
"They--they knew, of course. Because of the Dance."
"How much do you owe them?"
She knew forty pounds was a quite impossible sum for their neighbors. She knew, too, she must not hesitate. "Eight pounds," she plunged, and added foolishly, "fifteen pounds will see me clear of everything." She muttered some unlady-like comment upon herself under her breath and engaged in secret additions.
Mr. Stanley determined to improve the occasion. He seemed to deliberate. "Well," he said at last slowly, "I'll pay it. I'll pay it. But I do hope, Vee, I do hope --this is the end of these adventures. I hope you have learned your lesson now and come to see--come to realize --how things are. People, nobody, can do as they like in this world. Everywhere there are limitations."
"I know," said Ann Veronica (fifteen pounds!). "I have learned that. I mean--I mean to do what I can." (Fifteen pounds. Fifteen from forty is twenty-five.)
He hesitated. She could think of nothing more to say.
"Well," she achieved at last. "Here goes for the new life!"
"Here goes for the new life," he echoed and stood up. Father and daughter regarded each other warily, each more than a little insecure with the other. He made a movement toward her, and then recalled the circumstances of their last conversation in that study. She saw his purpose and his doubt hesitated also, and then went to him, took his coat lapels, and kissed him on the cheek.
"Ah, Vee," he said, "that's better! and kissed her back rather clumsily. "We're going to be sensible."
She disengaged herself from him and went out of the room with a grave, preoccupied expression. (Fifteen pounds! And she wanted forty!)
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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