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little difficult to see in the archway. They ought to put a lamp."
Her father declared there had been no difficulty.
"Dinner is served, m'm," said the efficient parlor-maid in the archway,
and the worst was over.
"Come, daddy," said Ann Veronica, following her husband and Miss
Stanley; and in the fulness of her heart she gave a friendly squeeze to
the parental arm.
"Excellent fellow!" he answered a little irrelevantly. "I didn't
"Quite charming apartments," Miss Stanley admired; "charming! Everything
is so pretty and convenient."
The dinner was admirable as a dinner; nothing went wrong, from the
golden and excellent clear soup to the delightful iced marrons
and cream; and Miss Stanley's praises died away to an appreciative
acquiescence. A brisk talk sprang up between Capes and Mr. Stanley, to
which the two ladies subordinated themselves intelligently. The
burning topic of the Mendelian controversy was approached on one or two
occasions, but avoided dexterously; and they talked chiefly of letters
and art and the censorship of the English stage. Mr. Stanley was
inclined to think the censorship should be extended to the supply of
what he styled latter-day fiction; good wholesome stories were being
ousted, he said, by "vicious, corrupting stuff" that "left a bad taste
in the mouth." He declared that no book could be satisfactory that left
a bad taste in the mouth, however much it seized and interested the
reader at the time. He did not like it, he said, with a significant
look, to be reminded of either his books or his dinners after he had
done with them. Capes agreed with the utmost cordiality.
"Life is upsetting enough, without the novels taking a share," said Mr.
For a time Ann Veronica's attention was diverted by her aunt's interest
in the salted almonds.
"Quite particularly nice," said her aunt. "Exceptionally so."
When Ann Veronica could attend again she found the men were discussing
the ethics of the depreciation of house property through the increasing
tumult of traffic in the West End, and agreeing with each other to a
devastating extent. It came into her head with real emotional force that
this must be some particularly fantastic sort of dream. It seemed to her
that her father was in some inexplicable way meaner-looking than she
had supposed, and yet also, as unaccountably, appealing. His tie had
demanded a struggle; he ought to have taken a clean one after his
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