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|Ann Veronica Talks To Her Father||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 2 of 4||
He put his head on one side, pulled down the corners of his mouth, and looked at her over his glasses.
"But why is it preposterous?" asked Ann Veronica, and fiddled with a pipe on the mantel.
"Surely!" he remarked, with an expression of worried appeal.
"You see, daddy, I don't think it IS preposterous. That's really what I want to discuss. It comes to this--am I to be trusted to take care of myself, or am I not?"
"To judge from this proposal of yours, I should say not."
"I think I am."
"As long as you remain under my roof--" he began, and paused.
"You are going to treat me as though I wasn't. Well, I don't think that's fair."
"Your ideas of fairness--" he remarked, and discontinued that sentence. "My dear girl," he said, in a tone of patient reasonableness, "you are a mere child. You know nothing of life, nothing of its dangers, nothing of its possibilities. You think everything is harmless and simple, and so forth. It isn't. It isn't. That's where you go wrong. In some things, in many things, you must trust to your elders, to those who know more of life than you do. Your aunt and I have discussed all this matter. There it is. You can't go."
The conversation hung for a moment. Ann Veronica tried to keep hold of a complicated situation and not lose her head. She had turned round sideways, so as to look down into the fire.
"You see, father," she said, "it isn't only this affair of the dance. I want to go to that because it's a new experience, because I think it will be interesting and give me a view of things. You say I know nothing. That's probably true. But how am I to know of things?"
"Some things I hope you may never know," he said.
"I'm not so sure. I want to know--just as much as I can."
"Tut!" he said, fuming, and put out his hand to the papers in the pink tape.
"Well, I do. It's just that I want to say. I want to be a human being; I want to learn about things and know about things, and not to be protected as something too precious for life, cooped up in one narrow little corner."
"Cooped up!" he cried. "Did I stand in the way of your going to college? Have I ever prevented you going about at any reasonable hour? You've got a bicycle!"
"H'm!" said Ann Veronica, and then went on "I want to be taken seriously. A girl--at my age--is grown-up. I want to go on with my University work under proper conditions, now that I've done the Intermediate. It isn't as though I haven't done well. I've never muffed an exam. yet. Roddy muffed two. . . ."
Her father interrupted. "Now look here, Veronica, let us be plain with each other. You are not going to that infidel Russell's classes. You are not going anywhere but to the Tredgold College. I've thought that out, and you must make up your mind to it. All sorts of considerations come in. While you live in my house you must follow my ideas. You are wrong even about that man's scientific position and his standard of work. There are men in the Lowndean who laugh at him--simply laugh at him. And I have seen work by his pupils myself that struck me as being--well, next door to shameful. There's stories, too, about his demonstrator, Capes Something or other. The kind of man who isn't content with his science, and writes articles in the monthly reviews. Anyhow, there it is: YOU ARE NOT GOING THERE."
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