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"Auntie?" asked Constance, who was conversant with Ann Veronica's
"No! My father. It's--it's a serious prohibition."
"Why?" asked Hetty.
"That's the point. I asked him why, and he hadn't a reason."
"YOU ASKED YOUR FATHER FOR A REASON!" said Miss Miniver, with great
"Yes. I tried to have it out with him, but he wouldn't have it out." Ann
Veronica reflected for an instant "That's why I think I ought to come."
"You asked your father for a reason!" Miss Miniver repeated.
"We always have things out with OUR father, poor dear!" said Hetty.
"He's got almost to like it."
"Men," said Miss Miniver, "NEVER have a reason. Never! And they don't
know it! They have no idea of it. It's one of their worst traits, one of
their very worst."
"But I say, Vee," said Constance, "if you come and you are forbidden to
come there'll be the deuce of a row."
Ann Veronica was deciding for further confidences. Her situation
was perplexing her very much, and the Widgett atmosphere was lax and
sympathetic, and provocative of discussion. "It isn't only the dance,"
"There's the classes," said Constance, the well-informed.
"There's the whole situation. Apparently I'm not to exist yet. I'm not
to study, I'm not to grow. I've got to stay at home and remain in a
state of suspended animation."
"DUSTING!" said Miss Miniver, in a sepulchral voice.
"Until you marry, Vee," said Hetty.
"Well, I don't feel like standing it."
"Thousands of women have married merely for freedom," said Miss Miniver.
"Thousands! Ugh! And found it a worse slavery."
"I suppose," said Constance, stencilling away at bright pink petals,
"it's our lot. But it's very beastly."
"What's our lot?" asked her sister.
"Slavery! Downtroddenness! When I think of it I feel all over boot
marks--men's boots. We hide it bravely, but so it is. Damn! I've
Miss Miniver's manner became impressive. She addressed Ann Veronica
with an air of conveying great open secrets to her. "As things are at
present," she said, "it is true. We live under man-made institutions,
and that is what they amount to. Every girl in the world practically,
except a few of us who teach or type-write, and then we're underpaid and
sweated--it's dreadful to think how we are sweated!" She had lost her
generalization, whatever it was. She hung for a moment, and then went
on, conclusively, "Until we have the vote that is how things WILL be."
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