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had determined from the outset to have the warmest affection for her
youngest niece and to be a second mother in her life--a second and a
better one; but she had found much to battle with, and there was much in
herself that Ann Veronica failed to understand. She came in now with an
air of reserved solicitude.
Mr. Stanley pointed to the letter with a pipe he had drawn from his
jacket pocket. "What do you think of that?" he asked.
She took it up in her many-ringed hands and read it judicially. He
filled his pipe slowly.
"Yes," she said at last, "it is firm and affectionate."
"I could have said more."
"You seem to have said just what had to be said. It seems to me exactly
what is wanted. She really must not go to that affair."
She paused, and he waited for her to speak.
"I don't think she quite sees the harm of those people or the sort of
life to which they would draw her," she said. "They would spoil every
"She has chances?" he said, helping her out.
"She is an extremely attractive girl," she said; and added, "to some
people. Of course, one doesn't like to talk about things until there are
things to talk about."
"All the more reason why she shouldn't get herself talked about."
"That is exactly what I feel."
Mr. Stanley took the letter and stood with it in his hand thoughtfully
for a time. "I'd give anything," he remarked, "to see our little Vee
happily and comfortably married."
He gave the note to the parlormaid the next morning in an inadvertent,
casual manner just as he was leaving the house to catch his London
train. When Ann Veronica got it she had at first a wild, fantastic idea
that it contained a tip.
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