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Ann Veronica's resolve to have things out with her father was not
accomplished without difficulty.
He was not due from the City until about six, and so she went and played
Badminton with the Widgett girls until dinner-time. The atmosphere at
dinner was not propitious. Her aunt was blandly amiable above a certain
tremulous undertow, and talked as if to a caller about the alarming
spread of marigolds that summer at the end of the garden, a sort of
Yellow Peril to all the smaller hardy annuals, while her father brought
some papers to table and presented himself as preoccupied with them. "It
really seems as if we shall have to put down marigolds altogether next
year," Aunt Molly repeated three times, "and do away with marguerites.
They seed beyond all reason." Elizabeth, the parlormaid, kept coming in
to hand vegetables whenever there seemed a chance of Ann Veronica asking
for an interview. Directly dinner was over Mr. Stanley, having pretended
to linger to smoke, fled suddenly up-stairs to petrography, and when
Veronica tapped he answered through the locked door, "Go away, Vee! I'm
busy," and made a lapidary's wheel buzz loudly.
Breakfast, too, was an impossible occasion. He read the Times with an
unusually passionate intentness, and then declared suddenly for the
earlier of the two trains he used.
"I'll come to the station," said Ann Veronica. "I may as well come up by
"I may have to run," said her father, with an appeal to his watch.
"I'll run, too," she volunteered.
Instead of which they walked sharply....
"I say, daddy," she began, and was suddenly short of breath.
"If it's about that dance project," he said, "it's no good, Veronica.
I've made up my mind."
"You'll make me look a fool before all my friends."
"You shouldn't have made an engagement until you'd consulted your aunt."
"I thought I was old enough," she gasped, between laughter and crying.
Her father's step quickened to a trot. "I won't have you quarrelling and
crying in the Avenue," he said. "Stop it!... If you've got anything
to say, you must say it to your aunt--"
"But look here, daddy!"
He flapped the Times at her with an imperious gesture.
"It's settled. You're not to go. You're NOT to go."
"But it's about other things."
"I don't care. This isn't the place."
"Then may I come to the study to-night--after dinner?"
"It's important. If I can't talk anywhere else--I DO want an
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