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"I don't think I CAN do that," she said. She looked up and said, a
little breathlessly, "I'm sorry, aunt, but I don't think I can."
Then it was the expostulations really began.
From first to last, on this occasion, her aunt expostulated for about
two hours. "But, my dear," she began, "it is Impossible! It is quite out
of the Question. You simply can't." And to that, through vast rhetorical
meanderings, she clung. It reached her only slowly that Ann Veronica was
standing to her resolution. "How will you live?" she appealed. "Think
of what people will say!" That became a refrain. "Think of what Lady
Palsworthy will say! Think of what"--So-and-so--"will say! What are we
to tell people?
"Besides, what am I to tell your father?"
At first it had not been at all clear to Ann Veronica that she would
refuse to return home; she had had some dream of a capitulation that
should leave her an enlarged and defined freedom, but as her aunt put
this aspect and that of her flight to her, as she wandered illogically
and inconsistently from one urgent consideration to another, as she
mingled assurances and aspects and emotions, it became clearer and
clearer to the girl that there could be little or no change in the
position of things if she returned. "And what will Mr. Manning think?"
said her aunt.
"I don't care what any one thinks," said Ann Veronica.
"I can't imagine what has come over you," said her aunt. "I can't
conceive what you want. You foolish girl!"
Ann Veronica took that in silence. At the back of her mind, dim and yet
disconcerting, was the perception that she herself did not know what she
wanted. And yet she knew it was not fair to call her a foolish girl.
"Don't you care for Mr. Manning?" said her aunt.
"I don't see what he has to do with my coming to London?"
"He--he worships the ground you tread on. You don't deserve it, but he
does. Or at least he did the day before yesterday. And here you are!"
Her aunt opened all the fingers of her gloved hand in a rhetorical
gesture. "It seems to me all madness--madness! Just because your
father--wouldn't let you disobey him!"
In the afternoon the task of expostulation was taken up by Mr. Stanley
in person. Her father's ideas of expostulation were a little harsh and
forcible, and over the claret-colored table-cloth and under the gas
chandelier, with his hat and umbrella between them like the mace in
Parliament, he and his daughter contrived to have a violent quarrel. She
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