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It was not Ann Veronica's fault that the night's work should have taken
upon itself the forms of wild burlesque. She was in deadly earnest in
everything she did. It seemed to her the last desperate attack upon the
universe that would not let her live as she desired to live, that penned
her in and controlled her and directed her and disapproved of her, the
same invincible wrappering, the same leaden tyranny of a universe that
she had vowed to overcome after that memorable conflict with her father
at Morningside Park.
She was listed for the raid--she was informed it was to be a raid upon
the House of Commons, though no particulars were given her--and told to
go alone to 14, Dexter Street, Westminster, and not to ask any policeman
to direct her. 14, Dexter Street, Westminster, she found was not a house
but a yard in an obscure street, with big gates and the name of Podgers
& Carlo, Carriers and Furniture Removers, thereon. She was perplexed by
this, and stood for some seconds in the empty street hesitating, until
the appearance of another circumspect woman under the street lamp at the
corner reassured her. In one of the big gates was a little door, and she
rapped at this. It was immediately opened by a man with light eyelashes
and a manner suggestive of restrained passion. "Come right in," he
hissed under his breath, with the true conspirator's note, closed the
door very softly and pointed, "Through there!"
By the meagre light of a gas lamp she perceived a cobbled yard with four
large furniture vans standing with horses and lamps alight. A slender
young man, wearing glasses, appeared from the shadow of the nearest van.
"Are you A, B, C, or D?" he asked.
"They told me D," said Ann Veronica.
"Through there," he said, and pointed with the pamphlet he was carrying.
Ann Veronica found herself in a little stirring crowd of excited women,
whispering and tittering and speaking in undertones.
The light was poor, so that she saw their gleaming faces dimly and
indistinctly. No one spoke to her. She stood among them, watching
them and feeling curiously alien to them. The oblique ruddy lighting
distorted them oddly, made queer bars and patches of shadow upon their
clothes. "It's Kitty's idea," said one, "we are to go in the vans."
"Kitty is wonderful," said another.
"I have always longed for prison service," said a voice, "always.
From the beginning. But it's only now I'm able to do it."
A little blond creature close at hand suddenly gave way to a fit of
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