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her head, and, having no further words, moved toward the door. Her
father intercepted her, and for a moment she and he struggled with their
hands upon the latch. A common rage flushed their faces. "Let go!" she
gasped at him, a blaze of anger.
"Veronica!" cried Miss Stanley, warningly, and, "Peter!"
For a moment they seemed on the verge of an altogether desperate
scuffle. Never for a moment had violence come between these two since
long ago he had, in spite of her mother's protest in the background,
carried her kicking and squalling to the nursery for some forgotten
crime. With something near to horror they found themselves thus
The door was fastened by a catch and a latch with an inside key, to
which at night a chain and two bolts were added. Carefully abstaining
from thrusting against each other, Ann Veronica and her father began an
absurdly desperate struggle, the one to open the door, the other to keep
it fastened. She seized the key, and he grasped her hand and squeezed
it roughly and painfully between the handle and the ward as she tried to
turn it. His grip twisted her wrist. She cried out with the pain of it.
A wild passion of shame and self-disgust swept over her. Her spirit
awoke in dismay to an affection in ruins, to the immense undignified
disaster that had come to them.
Abruptly she desisted, recoiled, and turned and fled up-stairs.
She made noises between weeping and laughter as she went. She gained her
room, and slammed her door and locked it as though she feared violence
"Oh God!" she cried, "Oh God!" and flung aside her opera-cloak, and for
a time walked about the room--a Corsair's bride at a crisis of emotion.
"Why can't he reason with me," she said, again and again, "instead of
There presently came a phase in which she said: "I WON'T stand it even
now. I will go to-night."
She went as far as her door, then turned to the window. She opened
this and scrambled out--a thing she had not done for five long years of
adolescence--upon the leaded space above the built-out bath-room on the
first floor. Once upon a time she and Roddy had descended thence by the
But things that a girl of sixteen may do in short skirts are not
things to be done by a young lady of twenty-one in fancy dress and
an opera-cloak, and just as she was coming unaided to an adequate
realization of this, she discovered Mr. Pragmar, the wholesale druggist,
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