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"But, daddy, what do you know of the place and the gathering?"
"And it's entirely out of order; it isn't right, it isn't correct;
it's impossible for you to stay in an hotel in London--the idea is
preposterous. I can't imagine what possessed you, Veronica."
He put his head on one side, pulled down the corners of his mouth, and
looked at her over his glasses.
"But why is it preposterous?" asked Ann Veronica, and fiddled with a
pipe on the mantel.
"Surely!" he remarked, with an expression of worried appeal.
"You see, daddy, I don't think it IS preposterous. That's really what
I want to discuss. It comes to this--am I to be trusted to take care of
myself, or am I not?"
"To judge from this proposal of yours, I should say not."
"I think I am."
"As long as you remain under my roof--" he began, and paused.
"You are going to treat me as though I wasn't. Well, I don't think
"Your ideas of fairness--" he remarked, and discontinued that sentence.
"My dear girl," he said, in a tone of patient reasonableness, "you are a
mere child. You know nothing of life, nothing of its dangers, nothing of
its possibilities. You think everything is harmless and simple, and so
forth. It isn't. It isn't. That's where you go wrong. In some things,
in many things, you must trust to your elders, to those who know more of
life than you do. Your aunt and I have discussed all this matter. There
it is. You can't go."
The conversation hung for a moment. Ann Veronica tried to keep hold of
a complicated situation and not lose her head. She had turned round
sideways, so as to look down into the fire.
"You see, father," she said, "it isn't only this affair of the dance.
I want to go to that because it's a new experience, because I think
it will be interesting and give me a view of things. You say I know
nothing. That's probably true. But how am I to know of things?"
"Some things I hope you may never know," he said.
"I'm not so sure. I want to know--just as much as I can."
"Tut!" he said, fuming, and put out his hand to the papers in the pink
"Well, I do. It's just that I want to say. I want to be a human being;
I want to learn about things and know about things, and not to be
protected as something too precious for life, cooped up in one narrow
"Cooped up!" he cried. "Did I stand in the way of your going to college?
Have I ever prevented you going about at any reasonable hour? You've got
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