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At the end of dinner that evening Ann Veronica began: "Father!"
Her father looked at her over his glasses and spoke with grave
deliberation; "If there is anything you want to say to me," he said,
"you must say it in the study. I am going to smoke a little here, and
then I shall go to the study. I don't see what you can have to say. I
should have thought my note cleared up everything. There are some papers
I have to look through to-night--important papers."
"I won't keep you very long, daddy," said Ann Veronica.
"I don't see, Mollie," he remarked, taking a cigar from the box on
the table as his sister and daughter rose, "why you and Vee shouldn't
discuss this little affair--whatever it is--without bothering me."
It was the first time this controversy had become triangular, for all
three of them were shy by habit.
He stopped in mid-sentence, and Ann Veronica opened the door for her
aunt. The air was thick with feelings. Her aunt went out of the room
with dignity and a rustle, and up-stairs to the fastness of her own
room. She agreed entirely with her brother. It distressed and confused
her that the girl should not come to her.
It seemed to show a want of affection, to be a deliberate and unmerited
disregard, to justify the reprisal of being hurt.
When Ann Veronica came into the study she found every evidence of a
carefully foreseen grouping about the gas fire. Both arm-chairs had been
moved a little so as to face each other on either side of the
fender, and in the circular glow of the green-shaded lamp there lay,
conspicuously waiting, a thick bundle of blue and white papers tied
with pink tape. Her father held some printed document in his hand,
and appeared not to observe her entry. "Sit down," he said, and
perused--"perused" is the word for it--for some moments. Then he put
the paper by. "And what is it all about, Veronica?" he asked, with a
deliberate note of irony, looking at her a little quizzically over his
Ann Veronica looked bright and a little elated, and she disregarded
her father's invitation to be seated. She stood on the mat instead, and
looked down on him. "Look here, daddy," she said, in a tone of great
reasonableness, "I MUST go to that dance, you know."
Her father's irony deepened. "Why?" he asked, suavely.
Her answer was not quite ready. "Well, because I don't see any reason
why I shouldn't."
"You see I do."
"Why shouldn't I go?"
"It isn't a suitable place; it isn't a suitable gathering."
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