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|Ann Veronica Talks To Her Father||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 3 of 4||
The girl received this intimation in silence. but the face that looked down upon the gas fire took an expression of obstinacy that brought out a hitherto latent resemblance between parent and child. When she spoke, her lips twitched.
"Then I suppose when I have graduated I am to come home?"
"It seems the natural course "
"And do nothing?"
"There are plenty of things a girl can find to do at home."
"Until some one takes pity on me and marries me?"
He raised his eyebrows in mild appeal. His foot tapped impatiently, and he took up the papers.
"Look here, father," she said, with a change in her voice, "suppose I won't stand it?"
He regarded her as though this was a new idea.
"Suppose, for example, I go to this dance?"
"Well"--her breath failed her for a moment. "How would you prevent it?" she asked.
"But I have forbidden it!" he said, raising his voice.
"Yes, I know. But suppose I go?"
"Now, Veronica! No, no. This won't do. Understand me! I forbid it. I do not want to hear from you even the threat of disobedience." He spoke loudly. "The thing is forbidden!"
"I am ready to give up anything that you show to be wrong."
"You will give up anything I wish you to give up."
They stared at each other through a pause, and both faces were flushed and obstinate.
She was trying by some wonderful, secret, and motionless gymnastics to restrain her tears. But when she spoke her lips quivered, and they came. "I mean to go to that dance!" she blubbered. "I mean to go to that dance! I meant to reason with you, but you won't reason. You're dogmatic."
At the sight of her tears his expression changed to a mingling of triumph and concern. He stood up, apparently intending to put an arm about her, but she stepped back from him quickly. She produced a handkerchief, and with one sweep of this and a simultaneous gulp had abolished her fit of weeping. His voice now had lost its ironies.
"Now, Veronica," he pleaded, "Veronica, this is most unreasonable. All we do is for your good. Neither your aunt nor I have any other thought but what is best for you."
"Only you won't let me live. Only you won't let me exist!"
Mr. Stanley lost patience. He bullied frankly.
"What nonsense is this? What raving! My dear child, you DO live, you DO exist! You have this home. You have friends, acquaintances, social standing, brothers and sisters, every advantage! Instead of which, you want to go to some mixed classes or other and cut up rabbits and dance about at nights in wild costumes with casual art student friends and God knows who. That--that isn't living! You are beside yourself. You don't know what you ask nor what you say. You have neither reason nor logic. I am sorry to seem to hurt you, but all I say is for your good. You MUST not, you SHALL not go. On this I am resolved. I put my foot down like--like adamant. And a time will come, Veronica, mark my words, a time will come when you will bless me for my firmness to-night. It goes to my heart to disappoint you, but this thing must not be."
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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