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the crude unthinking criticism of youth. You have no grasp upon the
essential facts of life (I pray God you never may), and in your rash
ignorance you are prepared to dash into positions that may end in
lifelong regret. The life of a young girl is set about with prowling
He was arrested for a moment by an indistinct picture of Veronica
reading this last sentence. But he was now too deeply moved to trace
a certain unsatisfactoriness to its source in a mixture of metaphors.
"Well," he said, argumentatively, "it IS. That's all about it. It's time
"The life of a young girl is set about with prowling pitfalls, from
which she must be shielded at all costs."
His lips tightened, and he frowned with solemn resolution.
"So long as I am your father, so long as your life is entrusted to my
care, I feel bound by every obligation to use my authority to check this
odd disposition of yours toward extravagant enterprises. A day will come
when you will thank me. It is not, my dear Veronica, that I think there
is any harm in you; there is not. But a girl is soiled not only by evil
but by the proximity of evil, and a reputation for rashness may do
her as serious an injury as really reprehensible conduct. So do please
believe that in this matter I am acting for the best."
He signed his name and reflected. Then he opened the study door and
called "Mollie!" and returned to assume an attitude of authority on the
hearthrug, before the blue flames and orange glow of the gas fire.
His sister appeared.
She was dressed in one of those complicated dresses that are all lace
and work and confused patternings of black and purple and cream about
the body, and she was in many ways a younger feminine version of the
same theme as himself. She had the same sharp nose--which, indeed, only
Ann Veronica, of all the family, had escaped. She carried herself well,
whereas her brother slouched, and there was a certain aristocratic
dignity about her that she had acquired through her long engagement to
a curate of family, a scion of the Wiltshire Edmondshaws. He had died
before they married, and when her brother became a widower she had
come to his assistance and taken over much of the care of his youngest
daughter. But from the first her rather old-fashioned conception of life
had jarred with the suburban atmosphere, the High School spirit and the
memories of the light and little Mrs. Stanley, whose family had been by
any reckoning inconsiderable--to use the kindliest term. Miss Stanley
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