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|The Last Days At Home||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 1 of 3||
In the late afternoon, as Ann Veronica was gathering flowers for the dinner-table, her father came strolling across the lawn toward her with an affectation of great deliberation.
"I want to speak to you about a little thing, Vee," said Mr. Stanley.
Ann Veronica's tense nerves started, and she stood still with her eyes upon him, wondering what it might be that impended.
"You were talking to that fellow Ramage to-day--in the Avenue. Walking to the station with him."
So that was it!
"He came and talked to me."
"Ye--e--es. "Mr. Stanley considered. "Well, I don't want you to talk to him," he said, very firmly.
Ann Veronica paused before she answered. "Don't you think I ought to?" she asked, very submissively.
"No." Mr. Stanley coughed and faced toward the house. "He is not-- I don't like him. I think it inadvisable-- I don't want an intimacy to spring up between you and a man of that type."
Ann Veronica reflected. "I HAVE--had one or two talks with him, daddy."
"Don't let there be any more. I-- In fact, I dislike him extremely."
"Suppose he comes and talks to me?"
"A girl can always keep a man at a distance if she cares to do it. She-- She can snub him."
Ann Veronica picked a cornflower.
"I wouldn't make this objection," Mr. Stanley went on, "but there are things--there are stories about Ramage. He's--He lives in a world of possibilities outside your imagination. His treatment of his wife is most unsatisfactory. Most unsatisfactory. A bad man, in fact. A dissipated, loose-living man."
"I'll try not to see him again," said Ann Veronica. "I didn't know you objected to him, daddy."
"Strongly," said Mr. Stanley, "very strongly."
The conversation hung. Ann Veronica wondered what her father would do if she were to tell him the full story of her relations with Ramage.
"A man like that taints a girl by looking at her, by his mere conversation." He adjusted his glasses on his nose. There was another little thing he had to say. "One has to be so careful of one's friends and acquaintances," he remarked, by way of transition. "They mould one insensibly." His voice assumed an easy detached tone. "I suppose, Vee, you don't see much of those Widgetts now?"
"I go in and talk to Constance sometimes."
"We were great friends at school."
"No doubt. . . . Still--I don't know whether I quite like--Something ramshackle about those people, Vee. While I am talking about your friends, I feel--I think you ought to know how I look at it." His voice conveyed studied moderation. "I don't mind, of course, your seeing her sometimes, still there are differences--differences in social atmospheres. One gets drawn into things. Before you know where you are you find yourself in a complication. I don't want to influence you unduly--But--They're artistic people, Vee. That's the fact about them. We're different."
"I suppose we are," said Vee, rearranging the flowers in her hand.
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H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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