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upon him, wondering what it might be that impended.
"You were talking to that fellow Ramage to-day--in the Avenue. Walking
to the station with him."
So that was it!
"He came and talked to me."
"Ye--e--es." Mr. Stanley considered. "Well, I don't want you to talk to
him," he said, very firmly.
Ann Veronica paused before she answered. "Don't you think I ought to?"
she asked, very submissively.
"No." Mr. Stanley coughed and faced toward the house. "He is not--I
don't like him. I think it inadvisable--I don't want an intimacy to
spring up between you and a man of that type."
Ann Veronica reflected. "I HAVE--had one or two talks with him, daddy."
"Don't let there be any more. I--In fact, I dislike him extremely."
"Suppose he comes and talks to me?"
"A girl can always keep a man at a distance if she cares to do it.
She--She can snub him."
Ann Veronica picked a cornflower.
"I wouldn't make this objection," Mr. Stanley went on, "but there are
things--there are stories about Ramage. He's--He lives in a world of
possibilities outside your imagination. His treatment of his wife
is most unsatisfactory. Most unsatisfactory. A bad man, in fact. A
dissipated, loose-living man."
"I'll try not to see him again," said Ann Veronica. "I didn't know you
objected to him, daddy."
"Strongly," said Mr. Stanley, "very strongly."
The conversation hung. Ann Veronica wondered what her father would do if
she were to tell him the full story of her relations with Ramage.
"A man like that taints a girl by looking at her, by his mere
conversation." He adjusted his glasses on his nose. There was another
little thing he had to say. "One has to be so careful of one's friends
and acquaintances," he remarked, by way of transition. "They mould one
insensibly." His voice assumed an easy detached tone. "I suppose, Vee,
you don't see much of those Widgetts now?"
"I go in and talk to Constance sometimes."
"We were great friends at school."
"No doubt.... Still--I don't know whether I quite like--Something
ramshackle about those people, Vee. While I am talking about your
friends, I feel--I think you ought to know how I look at it." His voice
conveyed studied moderation. "I don't mind, of course, your seeing
her sometimes, still there are differences--differences in social
atmospheres. One gets drawn into things. Before you know where you
are you find yourself in a complication. I don't want to influence you
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