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|Ann Veronica Talks To Her Father||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 2||
MY DEAR VEE, he wrote.
These daughters! He gnawed his pen and reflected, tore the sheet up, and began again.
"MY DEAR VERONICA,--Your aunt tells me you have involved yourself in some arrangement with the Widgett girls about a Fancy Dress Ball in London. I gather you wish to go up in some fantastic get-up, wrapped about in your opera cloak, and that after the festivities you propose to stay with these friends of yours, and without any older people in your party, at an hotel. Now I am sorry to cross you in anything you have set your heart upon, but I regret to say--"
"H'm," he reflected, and crossed out the last four words.
"--but this cannot be."
"No," he said, and tried again: "but I must tell you quite definitely that I feel it to be my duty to forbid any such exploit."
"Damn!" he remarked at the defaced letter; and, taking a fresh sheet, he recopied what he had written. A certain irritation crept into his manner as he did so.
"I regret that you should ever have proposed it," he went on.
He meditated, and began a new paragraph.
"The fact of it is, and this absurd project of yours only brings it to a head, you have begun to get hold of some very queer ideas about what a young lady in your position may or may not venture to do. I do not think you quite understand my ideals or what is becoming as between father and daughter. Your attitude to me--"
He fell into a brown study. It was so difficult to put precisely.
"--and your aunt--"
For a time he searched for the mot juste. Then he went on:
"--and, indeed, to most of the established things in life is, frankly, unsatisfactory. You are restless, aggressive, critical with all the crude unthinking criticism of youth. You have no grasp upon the essential facts of life (I pray God you never may), and in your rash ignorance you are prepared to dash into positions that may end in lifelong regret. The life of a young girl is set about with prowling pitfalls."
He was arrested for a moment by an indistinct picture of Veronica reading this last sentence. But he was now too deeply moved to trace a certain unsatisfactoriness to its source in a mixture of metaphors. "Well," he said, argumentatively, "it IS. That's all about it. It's time she knew."
"The life of a young girl is set about with prowling pitfalls, from which she must be shielded at all costs."
His lips tightened, and he frowned with solemn resolution.
"So long as I am your father, so long as your life is entrusted to my care, I feel bound by every obligation to use my authority to check this odd disposition of yours toward extravagant enterprises. A day will come when you will thank me. It is not, my dear Veronica, that I think there is any harm in you; there is not. But a girl is soiled not only by evil but by the proximity of evil, and a reputation for rashness may do her as serious an injury as really reprehensible conduct. So do please believe that in this matter I am acting for the best."
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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