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|Ann Veronica Talks To Her Father||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 3||
Ann Veronica's resolve to have things out with her father was not accomplished without difficulty.
He was not due from the City until about six, and so she went and played Badminton with the Widgett girls until dinner-time. The atmosphere at dinner was not propitious. Her aunt was blandly amiable above a certain tremulous undertow, and talked as if to a caller about the alarming spread of marigolds that summer at the end of the garden, a sort of Yellow Peril to all the smaller hardy annuals, while her father brought some papers to table and presented himself as preoccupied with them. "It really seems as if we shall have to put down marigolds altogether next year," Aunt Molly repeated three times, "and do away with marguerites. They seed beyond all reason." Elizabeth, the parlormaid, kept coming in to hand vegetables whenever there seemed a chance of Ann Veronica asking for an interview. Directly dinner was over Mr. Stanley, having pretended to linger to smoke, fled suddenly up-stairs to petrography, and when Veronica tapped he answered through the locked door, "Go away, Vee! I'm busy," and made a lapidary's wheel buzz loudly.
Breakfast, too, was an impossible occasion. He read the Times with an unusually passionate intentness, and then declared suddenly for the earlier of the two trains he used.
"I'll come to the station," said Ann Veronica. "I may as well come up by this train."
"I may have to run," said her father, with an appeal to his watch.
"I'll run, too," she volunteered.
Instead of which they walked sharply. . . .
"I say, daddy," she began, and was suddenly short of breath.
"If it's about that dance project," he said, "it's no good, Veronica. I've made up my mind."
"You'll make me look a fool before all my friends."
"You shouldn't have made an engagement until you'd consulted your aunt."
"I thought I was old enough," she gasped, between laughter and crying.
Her father's step quickened to a trot. "I won't have you quarrelling and crying in the Avenue," he said. "Stop it! . . . If you've got anything to say, you must say it to your aunt--"
"But look here, daddy!"
He flapped the Times at her with an imperious gesture.
"It's settled. You're not to go. You're NOT to go."
"But it's about other things."
"I don't care. This isn't the place."
"Then may I come to the study to-night--after dinner?"
"It's important. If I can't talk anywhere else--I DO want an understanding."
Ahead of them walked a gentleman whom it was evident they must at their present pace very speedily overtake. It was Ramage, the occupant of the big house at the end of the Avenue. He had recently made Mr. Stanley's acquaintance in the train and shown him one or two trifling civilities. He was an outside broker and the proprietor of a financial newspaper; he had come up very rapidly in the last few years, and Mr. Stanley admired and detested him in almost equal measure. It was intolerable to think that he might overhear words and phrases. Mr. Stanley's pace slackened.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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