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Ann Veronica by H. G. Wells

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a girl have I seen your father so moved. 'Oh! little Vee!' he
cried, 'little Vee!' and put his face between his hands and sat
still for a long time before he broke out again."

Ann Veronica had remained standing while her aunt spoke.

"Do you mean, aunt," she asked, "that my father thought I had
gone off--with some man?"

"What else COULD he think? Would any one DREAM you would be so
mad as to go off alone?"

"After--after what had happened the night before?"

"Oh, why raise up old scores? If you could see him this morning,
his poor face as white as a sheet and all cut about with shaving!
He was for coming up by the very first train and looking for you,
but I said to him, 'Wait for the letters,' and there, sure
enough, was yours. He could hardly open the envelope, he trembled
so. Then he threw the letter at me. 'Go and fetch her home,' he
said; 'it isn't what we thought! It's just a practical joke of
hers.' And with that he went off to the City, stern and silent,
leaving his bacon on his plate--a great slice of bacon hardly
touched. No breakfast, he's had no dinner, hardly a mouthful of
soup--since yesterday at tea."

She stopped. Aunt and niece regarded each other silently.

"You must come home to him at once," said Miss Stanley.

Ann Veronica looked down at her fingers on the claret-colored
table-cloth. Her aunt had summoned up an altogether too vivid
picture of her father as the masterful man, overbearing,
emphatic, sentimental, noisy, aimless. Why on earth couldn't he
leave her to grow in her own way? Her pride rose at the bare
thought of return

"I don't think I CAN do that," she said. She looked up and said,
a little breathlessly, "I'm sorry, aunt, but I don't think I
can."

Part 2

Then it was the expostulations really began.

From first to last, on this occasion, her aunt expostulated for
about two hours. "But, my dear," she began, "it is Impossible!
It is quite out of the Question. You simply can't." And to that,
through vast rhetorical meanderings, she clung. It reached her
only slowly that Ann Veronica was standing to her resolution.
"How will you live?" she appealed. "Think of what people will
say!" That became a refrain. "Think of what Lady Palsworthy
will say! Think of what"--So-and-so--"will say! What are we to
tell people?

"Besides, what am I to tell your father?"

At first it had not been at all clear to Ann Veronica that she
would refuse to return home; she had had some dream of a
capitulation that should leave her an enlarged and defined
freedom, but as her aunt put this aspect and that of her flight
to her, as she wandered illogically and inconsistently from one
urgent consideration to another, as she mingled assurances and
aspects and emotions, it became clearer and clearer to the girl
that there could be little or no change in the position of things
if she returned. "And what will Mr. Manning think?" said her
aunt.

"I don't care what any one thinks," said Ann Veronica.

"I can't imagine what has come over you," said her aunt. "I
can't conceive what you want. You foolish girl!"

Ann Veronica took that in silence. At the back of her mind, dim
and yet disconcerting, was the perception that she herself did
not know what she wanted. And yet she knew it was not fair to
call her a foolish girl.

"Don't you care for Mr. Manning?" said her aunt.

"I don't see what he has to do with my coming to London?"

"He--he worships the ground you tread on. You don't deserve it,
but he does. Or at least he did the day before yesterday. And
here you are!"

Her aunt opened all the fingers of her gloved hand in a
rhetorical gesture. "It seems to me all madness--madness! Just
because your father--wouldn't let you disobey him!"

Part 3

In the afternoon the task of expostulation was taken up by Mr.
Stanley in person. Her father's ideas of expostulation were a
little harsh and forcible, and over the claret-colored
table-cloth and under the gas chandelier, with his hat and
umbrella between them like the mace in Parliament, he and his
daughter contrived to have a violent quarrel. She had intended
to be quietly dignified, but he was in a smouldering rage from
the beginning, and began by assuming, which alone was more than
flesh and blood could stand, that the insurrection was over and
that she was coming home submissively. In his desire to be
emphatic and to avenge himself for his over-night distresses, he
speedily became brutal, more brutal than she had ever known him
before.

"A nice time of anxiety you've given me, young lady," he said, as
he entered the room. "I hope you're satisfied."

She was frightened--his anger always did frighten her--and in her
resolve to conceal her fright she carried a queen-like dignity to
what she felt even at the time was a preposterous pitch. She
said she hoped she had not distressed him by the course she had
felt obliged to take, and he told her not to be a fool. She
tried to keep her side up by declaring that he had put her into
an impossible position, and he replied by shouting, "Nonsense!
Nonsense! Any father in my place would have done what I did."

Then he went on to say: "Well, you've had your little adventure,
and I hope now you've had enough of it. So go up-stairs and get
your things together while I look out for a hansom."

To which the only possible reply seemed to be, "I'm not coming
home."

"Not coming home!"

"No!" And, in spite of her resolve to be a Person, Ann Veronica
began to weep with terror at herself. Apparently she was always
doomed to weep when she talked to her father. But he was always
forcing her to say and do such unexpectedly conclusive things.
She feared he might take her tears as a sign of weakness. So she
said: "I won't come home. I'd rather starve!"

For a moment the conversation hung upon that declaration. Then
Mr. Stanley, putting his hands on the table in the manner rather
of a barrister than a solicitor, and regarding her balefully
through his glasses with quite undisguised animosity, asked, "And
may I presume to inquire, then, what you mean to do?--how do you
propose to live?"

"I shall live," sobbed Ann Veronica. "You needn't be anxious
about that! I shall contrive to live."

"But I AM anxious," said Mr. Stanley, "I am anxious. Do you
think it's nothing to me to have my daughter running about London
looking for odd jobs and disgracing herself?"

"Sha'n't get odd jobs," said Ann Veronica, wiping her eyes.

And from that point they went on to a thoroughly embittering
wrangle. Mr. Stanley used his authority, and commanded Ann
Veronica to come home, to which, of course, she said she
wouldn't; and then he warned her not to defy him, warned her very
solemnly, and then commanded her again. He then said that if she
would not obey him in this course she should "never darken his
doors again," and was, indeed, frightfully abusive. This threat
terrified Ann Veronica so much that she declared with sobs and
vehemence that she would never come home again, and for a time
both talked at once and very wildly. He asked her whether she
understood what she was saying, and went on to say still more
precisely that she should never touch a penny of his money until
she came home again--not one penny. Ann Veronica said she didn't
care.

Then abruptly Mr. Stanley changed his key. "You poor child!" he
said; "don't you see the infinite folly of these proceedings?
Think! Think of the love and affection you abandon! Think of
your aunt, a second mother to you. Think if your own mother was
alive!"

He paused, deeply moved.

"If my own mother was alive," sobbed Ann Veronica, "she would
understand."

The talk became more and more inconclusive and exhausting. Ann
Veronica found herself incompetent, undignified, and detestable,
holding on desperately to a hardening antagonism to her father,
quarrelling with him, wrangling with him, thinking of
repartees--almost as if he was a brother. It was horrible, but
what could she do? She meant to live her own life, and he meant,
with contempt and insults, to prevent her. Anything else that
was said she now regarded only as an aspect of or diversion from
that.

In the retrospect she was amazed to think how things had gone to
pieces, for at the outset she had been quite prepared to go home
again upon terms. While waiting for his coming she had stated
her present and future relations with him with what had seemed to
her the most satisfactory lucidity and completeness. She had
looked forward to an explanation. Instead had come this storm,
this shouting, this weeping, this confusion of threats and
irrelevant appeals. It was not only that her father had said all
sorts of inconsistent and unreasonable things, but that by some
incomprehensible infection she herself had replied in the same
vein. He had assumed that her leaving home was the point at
issue, that everything turned on that, and that the sole
alternative was obedience, and she had fallen in with that
assumption until rebellion seemed a sacred principle. Moreover,
atrociously and inexorably, he allowed it to appear ever and
again in horrible gleams that he suspected there was some man in
the case. . . . Some man!

And to conclude it all was the figure of her father in the
doorway, giving her a last chance, his hat in one hand, his
umbrella in the other, shaken at her to emphasize his point.

"You understand, then," he was saying, "you understand?"

"I understand," said Ann Veronica, tear-wet and flushed with a
reciprocal passion, but standing up to him with an equality that
amazed even herself, "I understand." She controlled a sob. "Not
a penny--not one penny--and never darken your doors again!"

Part 4

The next day her aunt came again and expostulated, and was just
saying it was "an unheard-of thing" for a girl to leave her home
as Ann Veronica had done, when her father arrived, and was shown
in by the pleasant-faced landlady.

Her father had determined on a new line. He put down his hat and
umbrella, rested his hands on his hips, and regarded Ann Veronica
firmly.

"Now," he said, quietly, "it's time we stopped this nonsense."

Ann Veronica was about to reply, when he went on, with a still
more deadly quiet: "I am not here to bandy words with you. Let
us have no more of this humbug. You are to come home."

"I thought I explained--"

"I don't think you can have heard me," said her father; "I have
told you to come home."

"I thought I explained--"

"Come home!"

Ann Veronica shrugged her shoulders.

"Very well," said her father.

"I think this ends the business," he said, turning to his sister.

"It's not for us to supplicate any more. She must learn
wisdom--as God pleases."

"But, my dear Peter!" said Miss Stanley.

"No," said her brother, conclusively, "it's not for a parent to
go on persuading a child."

Miss Stanley rose and regarded Ann Veronica fixedly. The girl
stood with her hands behind her back, sulky, resolute, and
intelligent, a strand of her black hair over one eye and looking
more than usually delicate-featured, and more than ever like an
obdurate child.

"She doesn't know."

"She does."

"I can't imagine what makes you fly out against everything like
this," said Miss Stanley to her niece.

"What is the good of talking?" said her brother. "She must go her
own way. A man's children nowadays are not his own. That's the
fact of the matter. Their minds are turned against him. . . .
Rubbishy novels and pernicious rascals. We can't even protect
them from themselves."

An immense gulf seemed to open between father and daughter as he
said these words.

"I don't see," gasped Ann Veronica, "why parents and children . .
. shouldn't be friends."

"Friends!" said her father. "When we see you going through
disobedience to the devil! Come, Molly, she must go her own way.

I've tried to use my authority. And she defies me. What more is
there to be said? She defies me!"

It was extraordinary. Ann Veronica felt suddenly an effect of
tremendous pathos; she would have given anything to have been
able to frame and make some appeal, some utterance that should
bridge this bottomless chasm that had opened between her and her
father, and she could find nothing whatever to say that was in
the least sincere and appealing.

"Father," she cried, "I have to live!"

He misunderstood her. "That," he said, grimly, with his hand on
the door-handle, "must be your own affair, unless you choose to
live at Morningside Park."

Miss Stanley turned to her. "Vee," she said, "come home. Before
it is too late."

"Come, Molly," said Mr. Stanley, at the door.

"Vee!" said Miss Stanley, "you hear what your father says!"

Miss Stanley struggled with emotion. She made a curious movement
toward her niece, then suddenly, convulsively, she dabbed down
something lumpy on the table and turned to follow her brother.
Ann Veronica stared for a moment in amazement at this dark-green
object that clashed as it was put down. It was a purse. She made
a step forward. "Aunt!" she said, "I can't--"

Then she caught a wild appeal in her aunt's blue eye, halted, and
the door clicked upon them.

There was a pause, and then the front door slammed. . . .

Ann Veronica realized that she was alone with the world. And
this time the departure had a tremendous effect of finality. She
had to resist an impulse of sheer terror, to run out after them
and give in.

"Gods," she said, at last, "I've done it this time!"

"Well!" She took up the neat morocco purse, opened it, and
examined the contents.

It contained three sovereigns, six and fourpence, two postage
stamps, a small key, and her aunt's return half ticket to
Morningside Park.

Part 5

After the interview Ann Veronica considered herself formally cut
off from home. If nothing else had clinched that, the purse had.

Nevertheless there came a residuum of expostulations. Her
brother Roddy, who was in the motor line, came to expostulate;
her sister Alice wrote. And Mr. Manning called.

Her sister Alice seemed to have developed a religious sense away
there in Yorkshire, and made appeals that had no meaning for Ann
Veronica's mind. She exhorted Ann Veronica not to become one of
"those unsexed intellectuals, neither man nor woman."

Ann Veronica meditated over that phrase. "That's HIM," said Ann
Veronica, in sound, idiomatic English. "Poor old Alice!"

Her brother Roddy came to her and demanded tea, and asked her to
state a case. "Bit thick on the old man, isn't it?" said Roddy,
who had developed a bluff, straightforward style in the motor
shop.

"Mind my smoking?" said Roddy. "I don't see quite what your game
is, Vee, but I suppose you've got a game on somewhere.

"Rummy lot we are!" said Roddy. "Alice--Alice gone dotty, and
all over kids. Gwen--I saw Gwen the other day, and the paint's
thicker than ever. Jim is up to the neck in Mahatmas and
Theosophy and Higher Thought and rot--writes letters worse than
Alice. And now YOU'RE on the war-path. I believe I'm the only
sane member of the family left. The G.V.'s as mad as any of you,
in spite of all his respectability; not a bit of him straight
anywhere, not one bit."

"Straight?"

"Not a bit of it! He's been out after eight per cent. since the
beginning. Eight per cent.! He'll come a cropper one of these
days, if you ask me. He's been near it once or twice already.
That's got his nerves to rags. I suppose we're all human beings
really, but what price the sacred Institution of the Family! Us
as a bundle! Eh? . . . I don't half disagree with you, Vee,
really; only thing is, I don't see how you're going to pull it
off. A home MAY be a sort of cage, but still--it's a home.
Gives you a right to hang on to the old man until he
busts--practically. Jolly hard life for a girl, getting a
living. Not MY affair."

He asked questions and listened to her views for a time.

"I'd chuck this lark right off if I were you, Vee," he said.
"I'm five years older than you, and no end wiser, being a man.
What you're after is too risky. It's a damned hard thing to do.
It's all very handsome starting out on your own, but it's too
damned hard. That's my opinion, if you ask me. There's nothing a
girl can do that isn't sweated to the bone. You square the G.V.,
and go home before you have to. That's my advice. If you don't
eat humble-pie now you may live to fare worse later. _I_ can't
help you a cent. Life's hard enough nowadays for an unprotected
male. Let alone a girl. You got to take the world as it is, and
the only possible trade for a girl that isn't sweated is to get
hold of a man and make him do it for her. It's no good flying
out at that, Vee; _I_ didn't arrange it. It's Providence.
That's how things are; that's the order of the world. Like
appendicitis. It isn't pretty, but we're made so. Rot, no
doubt; but we can't alter it. You go home and live on the G.V.,
and get some other man to live on as soon as possible. It isn't
sentiment but it's horse sense. All this Woman-who-Diddery--no
damn good. After all, old P.--Providence, I mean--HAS arranged
it so that men will keep you, more or less. He made the universe
on those lines. You've got to take what you can get."

That was the quintessence of her brother Roddy.

He played variations on this theme for the better part of an
hour.

"You go home," he said, at parting; "you go home. It's all very
fine and all that, Vee, this freedom, but it isn't going to work.

The world isn't ready for girls to start out on their own yet;
that's the plain fact of the case. Babies and females have got
to keep hold of somebody or go under--anyhow, for the next few
generations. You go home and wait a century, Vee, and then try
again. Then you may have a bit of a chance. Now you haven't the
ghost of one--not if you play the game fair."

Part 6

It was remarkable to Ann Veronica how completely Mr. Manning, in
his entirely different dialect, indorsed her brother Roddy's view
of things. He came along, he said, just to call, with large,
loud apologies, radiantly kind and good. Miss Stanley, it was
manifest, had given him Ann Veronica's address. The kindly faced
landlady had failed to catch his name, and said he was a tall,
handsome gentleman with a great black mustache. Ann Veronica,
with a sigh at the cost of hospitality, made a hasty negotiation
for an extra tea and for a fire in the ground-floor apartment,
and preened herself carefully for the interview. In the little
apartment, under the gas chandelier, his inches and his stoop
were certainly very effective. In the bad light he looked at
once military and sentimental and studious, like one of Ouida's
guardsmen revised by Mr. Haldane and the London School of
Economics and finished in the Keltic school.

"It's unforgivable of me to call, Miss Stanley," he said, shaking
hands in a peculiar, high, fashionable manner; "but you know you
said we might be friends."

"It's dreadful for you to be here," he said, indicating the
yellow presence of the first fog of the year without, "but your
aunt told me something of what had happened. It's just like your
Splendid Pride to do it. Quite!"

He sat in the arm-chair and took tea, and consumed several of the
extra cakes which she had sent out for and talked to her and
expressed himself, looking very earnestly at her with his
deep-set eyes, and carefully avoiding any crumbs on his mustache
the while. Ann Veronica sat firelit by her tea-tray with, quite
unconsciously, the air of an expert hostess.

"But how is it all going to end?" said Mr. Manning.

"Your father, of course," he said, "must come to realize just how
Splendid you are! He doesn't understand. I've seen him, and he
doesn't a bit understand. _I_ didn't understand before that
letter. It makes me want to be just everything I CAN be to you.
You're like some splendid Princess in Exile in these Dreadful
Dingy apartments!"

"I'm afraid I'm anything but a Princess when it comes to earning
a salary," said Ann Veronica. "But frankly, I mean to fight this
through if I possibly can."

"My God!" said Manning, in a stage-aside. "Earning a salary!"

"You're like a Princess in Exile!" he repeated, overruling her.
"You come into these sordid surroundings--you mustn't mind my
calling them sordid--and it makes them seem as though they didn't
matter. . . . I don't think they do matter. I don't think any
surroundings could throw a shadow on you."

Ann Veronica felt a slight embarrassment. "Won't you have some
more tea, Mr. Manning?" she asked.

"You know--," said Mr. Manning, relinquishing his cup without
answering her question, "when I hear you talk of earning a
living, it's as if I heard of an archangel going on the Stock
Exchange--or Christ selling doves. . . . Forgive my daring. I
couldn't help the thought."

"It's a very good image," said Ann Veronica.

"I knew you wouldn't mind."

"But does it correspond with the facts of the case? You know, Mr.
Manning, all this sort of thing is very well as sentiment, but
does it correspond with the realities? Are women truly such
angelic things and men so chivalrous? You men have, I know,
meant to make us Queens and Goddesses, but in practice--well,
look, for example, at the stream of girls one meets going to work
of a morning, round-shouldered, cheap, and underfed! They aren't
queens, and no one is treating them as queens. And look, again,
at the women one finds letting lodgings. . . . I was looking for
rooms last week. It got on my nerves--the women I saw. Worse
than any man. Everywhere I went and rapped at a door I found
behind it another dreadful dingy woman--another fallen queen, I
suppose--dingier than the last, dirty, you know, in grain. Their
poor hands!"

"I know," said Mr. Manning, with entirely suitable emotion.

"And think of the ordinary wives and mothers, with their anxiety,
their limitations, their swarms of children!"

Mr. Manning displayed distress. He fended these things off from
him with the rump of his fourth piece of cake. "I know that our
social order is dreadful enough," he said, "and sacrifices all
that is best and most beautiful in life. I don't defend it."

"And besides, when it comes to the idea of queens," Ann Veronica
went on, "there's twenty-one and a half million women to twenty
million men. Suppose our proper place is a shrine. Still, that
leaves over a million shrines short, not reckoning widows who
re-marry. And more boys die than girls, so that the real
disproportion among adults is even greater."

"I know," said Mr Manning, "I know these Dreadful Statistics. I
know there's a sort of right in your impatience at the slowness
of Progress. But tell me one thing I don't understand--tell me
one thing: How can you help it by coming down into the battle
and the mire? That's the thing that concerns me."

"Oh, I'm not trying to help it," said Ann Veronica. "I'm only
arguing against your position of what a woman should be, and
trying to get it clear in my own mind. I'm in this apartment and
looking for work because-- Well, what else can I do, when my
father practically locks me up?"

"I know," said Mr. Manning, "I know. Don't think I can't
sympathize and understand. Still, here we are in this dingy,
foggy city. Ye gods! what a wilderness it is! Every one trying
to get the better of every one, every one regardless of every
one--it's one of those days when every one bumps against
you--every one pouring coal smoke into the air and making
confusion worse confounded, motor omnibuses clattering and
smelling, a horse down in the Tottenham Court Road, an old woman
at the corner coughing dreadfully--all the painful sights of a
great city, and here you come into it to take your chances. It's
too valiant, Miss Stanley, too valiant altogether!"

Ann Veronica meditated. She had had two days of
employment-seeking now. "I wonder if it is."

"It isn't," said Mr. Manning, "that I mind Courage in a Woman--I
love and admire Courage. What could be more splendid than a
beautiful girl facing a great, glorious tiger? Una and the Lion
again, and all that! But this isn't that sort of thing; this is
just a great, ugly, endless wilderness of selfish, sweating,
vulgar competition!"

"That you want to keep me out of?"

"Exactly!" said Mr. Manning.

"In a sort of beautiful garden-close--wearing lovely dresses and
picking beautiful flowers?"

"Ah! If one could!"

"While those other girls trudge to business and those other women
let lodgings. And in reality even that magic garden-close
resolves itself into a villa at Morningside Park and my father
being more and more cross and overbearing at meals--and a general
feeling of insecurity and futility."

Mr. Manning relinquished his cup, and looked meaningly at Ann
Veronica. "There," he said, "you don't treat me fairly, Miss
Stanley. My garden-close would be a better thing than that."

CHAPTER THE SEVENTH

IDEALS AND A REALITY

Part 1

And now for some weeks Ann Veronica was to test her market value
in the world. She went about in a negligent November London that
had become very dark and foggy and greasy and forbidding indeed,
and tried to find that modest but independent employment she had
so rashly assumed. She went about, intent-looking and
self-possessed, trim and fine, concealing her emotions whatever
they were, as the realities of her position opened out before
her. Her little bed-sitting-room was like a lair, and she went
out from it into this vast, dun world, with its smoke-gray
houses, its glaring streets of shops, its dark streets of homes,
its orange-lit windows, under skies of dull copper or muddy gray
or black, much as an animal goes out to seek food. She would
come back and write letters, carefully planned and written
letters, or read some book she had fetched from Mudie's--she had
invested a half-guinea with Mudie's--or sit over her fire and
think.

Slowly and reluctantly she came to realize that Vivie Warren was
what is called an "ideal." There were no such girls and no such
positions. No work that offered was at all of the quality she
had vaguely postulated for herself. With such qualifications as
she possessed, two chief channels of employment lay open, and
neither attracted her, neither seemed really to offer a
conclusive escape from that subjection to mankind against which,
in the person of her father, she was rebelling. One main avenue
was for her to become a sort of salaried accessory wife or
mother, to be a governess or an assistant schoolmistress, or a
very high type of governess-nurse. The other was to go into
business --into a photographer's reception-room, for example, or
a costumer's or hat-shop. The first set of occupations seemed to
her to be altogether too domestic and restricted; for the latter
she was dreadfully handicapped by her want of experience. And
also she didn't like them. She didn't like the shops, she didn't
like the other women's faces; she thought the smirking men in
frock-coats who dominated these establishments the most
intolerable persons she had ever had to face. One called her
very distinctly "My dear!"

Two secretarial posts did indeed seem to offer themselves in
which, at least, there was no specific exclusion of womanhood;
one was under a Radical Member of Parliament, and the other under
a Harley Street doctor, and both men declined her proffered
services with the utmost civility and admiration and terror.
There was also a curious interview at a big hotel with a
middle-aged, white-powdered woman, all covered with jewels and
reeking of scent, who wanted a Companion. She did not think Ann
Veronica would do as her companion.

And nearly all these things were fearfully ill-paid. They carried
no more than bare subsistence wages; and they demanded all her
time and energy. She had heard of women journalists, women
writers, and so forth; but she was not even admitted to the
presence of the editors she demanded to see, and by no means sure
that if she had been she could have done any work they might have
given her. One day she desisted from her search and went
unexpectedly to the Tredgold College. Her place was not filled;
she had been simply noted as absent, and she did a comforting day
of admirable dissection upon the tortoise. She was so
interested, and this was such a relief from the trudging anxiety
of her search for work, that she went on for a whole week as if
she was still living at home. Then a third secretarial opening
occurred and renewed her hopes again: a position as
amanuensis--with which some of the lighter duties of a nurse were
combined--to an infirm gentleman of means living at Twickenham,
and engaged upon a great literary research to prove that the
"Faery Queen" was really a treatise upon molecular chemistry
written in a peculiar and picturesquely handled cipher.

Part 2

Now, while Ann Veronica was taking these soundings in the
industrial sea, and measuring herself against the world as it is,
she was also making extensive explorations among the ideas and
attitudes of a number of human beings who seemed to be largely
concerned with the world as it ought to be. She was drawn first
by Miss Miniver, and then by her own natural interest, into a
curious stratum of people who are busied with dreams of world
progress, of great and fundamental changes, of a New Age that is
to replace all the stresses and disorders of contemporary life.

Miss Miniver learned of her flight and got her address from the
Widgetts. She arrived about nine o'clock the next evening in a
state of tremulous enthusiasm. She followed the landlady half way
up-stairs, and called up to Ann Veronica, "May I come up? It's
me! You know--Nettie Miniver!" She appeared before Ann Veronica
could clearly recall who Nettie Miniver might be.

There was a wild light in her eye, and her straight hair was out
demonstrating and suffragetting upon some independent notions of
its own. Her fingers were bursting through her gloves, as if to
get at once into touch with Ann Veronica. "You're Glorious!"
said Miss Miniver in tones of rapture, holding a hand in each of
hers and peering up into Ann Veronica's face. "Glorious! You're
so calm, dear, and so resolute, so serene!

"It's girls like you who will show them what We are," said Miss
Miniver; "girls whose spirits have not been broken!"

Ann Veronica sunned herself a little in this warmth.

"I was watching you at Morningside Park, dear," said Miss
Miniver. "I am getting to watch all women. I thought then
perhaps you didn't care, that you were like so many of them. NOW
it's just as though you had grown up suddenly."

She stopped, and then suggested: "I wonder--I should love--if it
was anything _I_ said."

She did not wait for Ann Veronica's reply. She seemed to assume
that it must certainly be something she had said. "They all
catch on," she said. "It spreads like wildfire. This is such a
grand time! Such a glorious time! There never was such a time
as this! Everything seems so close to fruition, so coming on and
leading on! The Insurrection of Women! They spring up
everywhere. Tell me all that happened, one sister-woman to
another."

She chilled Ann Veronica a little by that last phrase, and yet
the magnetism of her fellowship and enthusiasm was very strong;
and it was pleasant to be made out a heroine after so much
expostulation and so many secret doubts.

But she did not listen long; she wanted to talk. She sat,
crouched together, by the corner of the hearthrug under the
bookcase that supported the pig's skull, and looked into the fire
and up at Ann Veronica's face, and let herself go. "Let us put
the lamp out," she said; "the flames are ever so much better for
talking," and Ann Veronica agreed. "You are coming right out
into life--facing it all."

Ann Veronica sat with her chin on her hand, red-lit and saying
little, and Miss Miniver discoursed. As she talked, the drift
and significance of what she was saying shaped itself slowly to
Ann Veronica's apprehension. It presented itself in the likeness
of a great, gray, dull world--a brutal, superstitious, confused,
and wrong-headed world, that hurt people and limited people
unaccountably. In remote times and countries its evil tendencies
had expressed themselves in the form of tyrannies, massacres,
wars, and what not; but just at present in England they shaped as
commercialism and competition, silk hats, suburban morals, the
sweating system, and the subjection of women. So far the thing
was acceptable enough. But over against the world Miss Miniver
assembled a small but energetic minority, the Children of
Light--people she described as "being in the van," or "altogether
in the van," about whom Ann Veronica's mind was disposed to be
more sceptical.

Everything, Miss Miniver said, was "working up," everything was
"coming on"--the Higher Thought, the Simple Life, Socialism,
Humanitarianism, it was all the same really. She loved to be
there, taking part in it all, breathing it, being it. Hitherto
in the world's history there had been precursors of this Progress
at great intervals, voices that had spoken and ceased, but now it
was all coming on together in a rush. She mentioned, with
familiar respect, Christ and Buddha and Shelley and Nietzsche and
Plato. Pioneers all of them. Such names shone brightly in the
darkness, with black spaces of unilluminated emptiness about
them, as stars shine in the night; but now--now it was different;
now it was dawn--the real dawn.

"The women are taking it up," said Miss Miniver; "the women and
the common people, all pressing forward, all roused."

Ann Veronica listened with her eyes on the fire.

"Everybody is taking it up," said Miss Miniver. "YOU had to come
in. You couldn't help it. Something drew you. Something draws
everybody. From suburbs, from country towns--everywhere. I see
all the Movements. As far as I can, I belong to them all. I keep
my finger on the pulse of things."

Ann Veronica said nothing.

"The dawn!" said Miss Miniver, with her glasses reflecting the
fire like pools of blood-red flame.

"I came to London," said Ann Veronica, "rather because of my own
difficulty. I don't know that I understand altogether."

"Of course you don't," said Miss Miniver, gesticulating
triumphantly with her thin hand and thinner wrist, and patting
Ann Veronica's knee. "Of course you don't. That's the wonder of
it. But you will, you will. You must let me take you to
things--to meetings and things, to conferences and talks. Then
you will begin to see. You will begin to see it all opening out.
I am up to the ears in it all--every moment I can spare. I throw
up work--everything! I just teach in one school, one good
school, three days a week. All the rest--Movements! I can live
now on fourpence a day. Think how free that leaves me to follow
things up! I must take you everywhere. I must take you to the
Suffrage people, and the Tolstoyans, and the Fabians."

"I have heard of the Fabians," said Ann Veronica.

"It's THE Society!" said Miss Miniver. "It's the centre of the
intellectuals. Some of the meetings are wonderful! Such
earnest, beautiful women! Such deep-browed men! . . . And to
think that there they are making history! There they are putting
together the plans of a new world. Almos light-heartedly. There
is Shaw, and Webb, and Wilkins the author, and Toomer, and Doctor
Tumpany--the most wonderful people! There you see them
discussing, deciding, planning! Just think--THEY ARE MAKING A NEW
WORLD!"

"But ARE these people going to alter everything?" said Ann
Veronica.

"What else can happen?" asked Miss Miniver, with a little weak
gesture at the glow. "What else can possibly happen--as things
are going now?"

Part 3

Miss Miniver let Ann Veronica into her peculiar levels of the
world with so enthusiastic a generosity that it seemed
ingratitude to remain critical. Indeed, almost insensibly Ann
Veronica became habituated to the peculiar appearance and the
peculiar manners of the people "in the van." The shock of their
intellectual attitude was over, usage robbed it of the first
quaint effect of deliberate unreason. They were in many respects
so right; she clung to that, and shirked more and more the
paradoxical conviction that they were also somehow, and even in
direct relation to that rightness, absurd.

Very central in Miss Miniver's universe were the Goopes. The
Goopes were the oddest little couple conceivable, following a
fruitarian career upon an upper floor in Theobald's Road. They
were childless and servantless, and they had reduced simple
living to the finest of fine arts. Mr. Goopes, Ann Veronica
gathered, was a mathematical tutor and visited schools, and his
wife wrote a weekly column in New Ideas upon vegetarian cookery,
vivisection, degeneration, the lacteal secretion, appendicitis,
and the Higher Thought generally, and assisted in the management
of a fruit shop in the Tottenham Court Road. Their very
furniture had mysteriously a high-browed quality, and Mr. Goopes
when at home dressed simply in a pajama-shaped suit of canvas
sacking tied with brown ribbons, while his wife wore a purple
djibbah with a richly embroidered yoke. He was a small, dark,
reserved man, with a large inflexible-looking convex forehead,
and his wife was very pink and high-spirited, with one of those
chins that pass insensibly into a full, strong neck. Once a
week, every Saturday, they had a little gathering from nine till
the small hours, just talk and perhaps reading aloud and
fruitarian refreshments--chestnut sandwiches buttered with nut
tose, and so forth--and lemonade and unfermented wine; and to one
of these symposia Miss Miniver after a good deal of preliminary
solicitude, conducted Ann Veronica.

She was introduced, perhaps a little too obviously for her taste,
as a girl who was standing out against her people, to a gathering
that consisted of a very old lady with an extremely wrinkled skin
and a deep voice who was wearing what appeared to Ann Veronica's
inexperienced eye to be an antimacassar upon her head, a shy,
blond young man with a narrow forehead and glasses, two
undistinguished women in plain skirts and blouses, and a
middle-aged couple, very fat and alike in black, Mr. and Mrs.
Alderman Dunstable, of the Borough Council of Marylebone. These
were seated in an imperfect semicircle about a very
copper-adorned fireplace, surmounted by a carved wood
inscription:

"DO IT NOW."

And to them were presently added a roguish-looking young man,
with reddish hair, an orange tie, and a fluffy tweed suit, and
others who, in Ann Veronica's memory, in spite of her efforts to
recall details, remained obstinately just "others."

The talk was animated, and remained always brilliant in form even
when it ceased to be brilliant in substance. There were moments
when Ann Veronica rather more than suspected the chief speakers
to be, as school-boys say, showing off at her.

They talked of a new substitute for dripping in vegetarian
cookery that Mrs. Goopes was convinced exercised an exceptionally
purifying influence on the mind. And then they talked of
Anarchism and Socialism, and whether the former was the exact
opposite of the latter or only a higher form. The reddish-haired
young man contributed allusions to the Hegelian philosophy that
momentarily confused the discussion. Then Alderman Dunstable,
who had hitherto been silent, broke out into speech and went off
at a tangent, and gave his personal impressions of quite a number
of his fellow-councillors. He continued to do this for the rest
of the evening intermittently, in and out, among other topics. He
addressed himself chiefly to Goopes, and spoke as if in reply to
long-sustained inquiries on the part of Goopes into the personnel
of the Marylebone Borough Council. "If you were to ask me," he
would say, "I should say Blinders is straight. An ordinary type,
of course--"

Mrs. Dunstable's contributions to the conversation were entirely
in the form of nods; whenever Alderman Dunstable praised or
blamed she nodded twice or thrice, according to the requirements
of his emphasis. And she seemed always to keep one eye on Ann
Veronica's dress. Mrs. Goopes disconcerted the Alderman a little
by abruptly challenging the roguish-looking young man in the
orange tie (who, it seemed, was the assistant editor of New
Ideas) upon a critique of Nietzsche and Tolstoy that had appeared
in his paper, in which doubts had been cast upon the perfect
sincerity of the latter. Everybody seemed greatly concerned about
the sincerity of Tolstoy.

Miss Miniver said that if once she lost her faith in Tolstoy's
sincerity, nothing she felt would really matter much any more,
and she appealed to Ann Veronica whether she did not feel the
same; and Mr. Goopes said that we must distinguish between
sincerity and irony, which was often indeed no more than
sincerity at the sublimated level.

Alderman Dunstable said that sincerity was often a matter of
opportunity, and illustrated the point to the fair young man with
an anecdote about Blinders on the Dust Destructor Committee,
during which the young man in the orange tie succeeded in giving
the whole discussion a daring and erotic flavor by questioning
whether any one could be perfectly sincere in love.

Miss Miniver thought that there was no true sincerity except in
love, and appealed to Ann Veronica, but the young man in the
orange tie went on to declare that it was quite possible to be
sincerely in love with two people at the same time, although
perhaps on different planes with each individual, and deceiving
them both. But that brought Mrs. Goopes down on him with the
lesson Titian teaches so beautifully in his "Sacred and Profane
Love," and became quite eloquent upon the impossibility of any
deception in the former.

Then they discoursed on love for a time, and Alderman Dunstable,
turning back to the shy, blond young man and speaking in
undertones of the utmost clearness, gave a brief and confidential
account of an unfounded rumor of the bifurcation of the
affections of Blinders that had led to a situation of some
unpleasantness upon the Borough Council.

The very old lady in the antimacassar touched Ann Veronica's arm
suddenly, and said, in a deep, arch voice:

"Talking of love again; spring again, love again. Oh! you young
people!"

The young man with the orange tie, in spite of Sisyphus-like
efforts on the part of Goopes to get the topic on to a higher
plane, displayed great persistence in speculating upon the
possible distribution of the affections of highly developed
modern types.

The old lady in the antimacassar said, abruptly, "Ah! you young
people, you young people, if you only knew!" and then laughed and
then mused in a marked manner; and the young man with the narrow
forehead and glasses cleared his throat and asked the young man
in the orange tie whether he believed that Platonic love was
possible. Mrs. Goopes said she believed in nothing else, and
with that she glanced at Ann Veronica, rose a little abruptly,
and directed Goopes and the shy young man in the handing of
refreshments.

But the young man with the orange tie remained in his place,
disputing whether the body had not something or other which he
called its legitimate claims. And from that they came back by way
of the Kreutzer Sonata and Resurrection to Tolstoy again.

So the talk went on. Goopes, who had at first been a little
reserved, resorted presently to the Socratic method to restrain
the young man with the orange tie, and bent his forehead over
him, and brought out at last very clearly from him that the body
was only illusion and everything nothing but just spirit and
molecules of thought. It became a sort of duel at last between
them, and all the others sat and listened--every one, that is,
except the Alderman, who had got the blond young man into a
corner by the green-stained dresser with the aluminum things, and
was sitting with his back to every one else, holding one hand
over his mouth for greater privacy, and telling him, with an
accent of confidential admission, in whispers of the chronic
struggle between the natural modesty and general inoffensiveness
of the Borough Council and the social evil in Marylebone.

So the talk went on, and presently they were criticising
novelists, and certain daring essays of Wilkins got their due
share of attention, and then they were discussing the future of
the theatre. Ann Veronica intervened a little in the novelist
discussion with a defence of Esmond and a denial that the Egoist
was obscure, and when she spoke every one else stopped talking
and listened. Then they deliberated whether Bernard Shaw ought
to go into Parliament. And that brought them to vegetarianism
and teetotalism, and the young man in the orange tie and Mrs.
Goopes had a great set-to about the sincerity of Chesterton and
Belloc that was ended by Goopes showing signs of resuming the
Socratic method.

And at last Ann Veronica and Miss Miniver came down the dark
staircase and out into the foggy spaces of the London squares,
and crossed Russell Square, Woburn Square, Gordon Square, making
an oblique route to Ann Veronica's lodging. They trudged along a
little hungry, because of the fruitarian refreshments, and
mentally very active. And Miss Miniver fell discussing whether
Goopes or Bernard Shaw or Tolstoy or Doctor Tumpany or Wilkins
the author had the more powerful and perfect mind in existence at
the present time. She was clear there were no other minds like
them in all the world.

Part 4

Then one evening Ann Veronica went with Miss Miniver into the
back seats of the gallery at Essex Hall, and heard and saw the
giant leaders of the Fabian Society who are re-making the world:
Bernard Shaw and Toomer and Doctor Tumpany and Wilkins the
author, all displayed upon a platform. The place was crowded,
and the people about her were almost equally made up of very
good-looking and enthusiastic young people and a great variety of
Goopes-like types. In the discussion there was the oddest
mixture of things that were personal and petty with an idealist
devotion that was fine beyond dispute. In nearly every speech
she heard was the same implication of great and necessary changes
in the world--changes to be won by effort and sacrifice indeed,
but surely to be won. And afterward she saw a very much larger
and more enthusiastic gathering, a meeting of the advanced
section of the woman movement in Caxton Hall, where the same note
of vast changes in progress sounded; and she went to a soiree of
the Dress Reform Association and visited a Food Reform
Exhibition, where imminent change was made even alarmingly
visible. The women's meeting was much more charged with
emotional force than the Socialists'. Ann Veronica was carried
off her intellectual and critical feet by it altogether, and
applauded and uttered cries that subsequent reflection failed to
endorse. "I knew you would feel it," said Miss Miniver, as they
came away flushed and heated. "I knew you would begin to see how
it all falls into place together."

It did begin to fall into place together. She became more and
more alive, not so much to a system of ideas as to a big diffused
impulse toward change, to a great discontent with and criticism
of life as it is lived, to a clamorous confusion of ideas for
reconstruction--reconstruction of the methods of business, of
economic development, of the rules of property, of the status of
children, of the clothing and feeding and teaching of every one;
she developed a quite exaggerated consciousness of a multitude of
people going about the swarming spaces of London with their minds
full, their talk and gestures full, their very clothing charged
with the suggestion of the urgency of this pervasive project of
alteration. Some indeed carried themselves, dressed themselves
even, rather as foreign visitors from the land of "Looking
Backward" and "News from Nowhere" than as the indigenous
Londoners they were. For the most part these were detached
people: men practising the plastic arts, young writers, young men
in employment, a very large proportion of girls and women--self-
supporting women or girls of the student class. They made a
stratum into which Ann Veronica was now plunged up to her neck;
it had become her stratum.

None of the things they said and did were altogether new to Ann
Veronica, but now she got them massed and alive, instead of by
glimpses or in books--alive and articulate and insistent. The
London backgrounds, in Bloomsbury and Marylebone, against which
these people went to and fro, took on, by reason of their gray
facades, their implacably respectable windows and window-blinds,
their reiterated unmeaning iron railings, a stronger and stronger
suggestion of the flavor of her father at his most obdurate
phase, and of all that she felt herself fighting against.

She was already a little prepared by her discursive reading and
discussion under the Widgett influence for ideas and "movements,"
though temperamentally perhaps she was rather disposed to resist
and criticise than embrace them. But the people among whom she
was now thrown through the social exertions of Miss Miniver and
the Widgetts--for Teddy and Hetty came up from Morningside Park
and took her to an eighteen-penny dinner in Soho and introduced
her to some art students, who were also Socialists, and so opened
the way to an evening of meandering talk in a studio--carried
with them like an atmosphere this implication, not only that the
world was in some stupid and even obvious way WRONG, with which
indeed she was quite prepared to agree, but that it needed only a
few pioneers to behave as such and be thoroughly and
indiscriminately "advanced," for the new order to achieve itself.

When ninety per cent. out of the ten or twelve people one meets
in a month not only say but feel and assume a thing, it is very
hard not to fall into the belief that the thing is so.
Imperceptibly almost Ann Veronica began to acquire the new
attitude, even while her mind still resisted the felted ideas
that went with it. And Miss Miniver began to sway her.

The very facts that Miss Miniver never stated an argument
clearly, that she was never embarrassed by a sense of
self-contradiction, and had little more respect for consistency
of statement than a washerwoman has for wisps of vapor, which
made Ann Veronica critical and hostile at their first encounter
in Morningside Park, became at last with constant association the
secret of Miss Miniver's growing influence. The brain tires of
resistance, and when it meets again and again, incoherently
active, the same phrases, the same ideas that it has already
slain, exposed and dissected and buried, it becomes less and less
energetic to repeat the operation. There must be something, one
feels, in ideas that achieve persistently a successful
resurrection. What Miss Miniver would have called the Higher
Truth supervenes.

Yet through these talks, these meetings and conferences, these
movements and efforts, Ann Veronica, for all that she went with
her friend, and at times applauded with her enthusiastically, yet
went nevertheless with eyes that grew more and more puzzled, and
fine eyebrows more and more disposed to knit. She was with these
movements--akin to them, she felt it at times intensely--and yet
something eluded her. Morningside Park had been passive and
defective; all this rushed about and was active, but it was still
defective. It still failed in something. It did seem germane to
the matter that so many of the people "in the van" were plain
people, or faded people, or tired-looking people. It did affect
the business that they all argued badly and were egotistical in
their manners and inconsistent in their phrases. There were
moments when she doubted whether the whole mass of movements and
societies and gatherings and talks was not simply one coherent
spectacle of failure protecting itself from abjection by the
glamour of its own assertions. It happened that at the extremest
point of Ann Veronica's social circle from the Widgetts was the
family of the Morningside Park horse-dealer, a company of
extremely dressy and hilarious young women, with one equestrian
brother addicted to fancy waistcoats, cigars, and facial spots.
These girls wore hats at remarkable angles and bows to startle
and kill; they liked to be right on the spot every time and up to
everything that was it from the very beginning and they rendered
their conception of Socialists and all reformers by the words
"positively frightening" and "weird." Well, it was beyond
dispute that these words did convey a certain quality of the
Movements in general amid which Miss Miniver disported herself.
They WERE weird. And yet for all that--

It got into Ann Veronica's nights at last and kept her awake, the
perplexing contrast between the advanced thought and the advanced
thinker. The general propositions of Socialism, for example,
struck her as admirable, but she certainly did not extend her
admiration to any of its exponents. She was still more stirred
by the idea of the equal citizenship of men and women, by the
realization that a big and growing organization of women were
giving form and a generalized expression to just that personal
pride, that aspiration for personal freedom and respect which had
brought her to London; but when she heard Miss Miniver
discoursing on the next step in the suffrage campaign, or read of
women badgering Cabinet Ministers, padlocked to railings, or
getting up in a public meeting to pipe out a demand for votes and
be carried out kicking and screaming, her soul revolted. She
could not part with dignity. Something as yet unformulated
within her kept her estranged from all these practical aspects of
her beliefs.

"Not for these things, O Ann Veronica, have you revolted," it
said; "and this is not your appropriate purpose."

It was as if she faced a darkness in which was something very
beautiful and wonderful as yet unimagined. The little pucker in
her brows became more perceptible.

Part 5

In the beginning of December Ann Veronica began to speculate
privately upon the procedure of pawning. She had decided that she
would begin with her pearl necklace. She spent a very
disagreeable afternoon and evening--it was raining fast outside,
and she had very unwisely left her soundest pair of boots in the
boothole of her father's house in Morningside Park--thinking over
the economic situation and planning a course of action. Her aunt
had secretly sent on to Ann Veronica some new warm underclothing,
a dozen pairs of stockings, and her last winter's jacket, but the
dear lady had overlooked those boots.

These things illuminated her situation extremely. Finally she
decided upon a step that had always seemed reasonable to her, but
that hitherto she had, from motives too faint for her to
formulate, refrained from taking. She resolved to go into the
City to Ramage and ask for his advice. And next morning she
attired herself with especial care and neatness, found his
address in the Directory at a post-office, and went to him.

She had to wait some minutes in an outer office, wherein three
young men of spirited costume and appearance regarded her with
ill-concealed curiosity and admiration. Then Ramage appeared
with effusion, and ushered her into his inner apartment. The
three young men exchanged expressive glances.

The inner apartment was rather gracefully furnished with a thick,
fine Turkish carpet, a good brass fender, a fine old bureau, and
on the walls were engravings of two young girls' heads by Greuze,
and of some modern picture of boys bathing in a sunlit pool.

"But this is a surprise!" said Ramage. "This is wonderful! I've
been feeling that you had vanished from my world. Have you been
away from Morningside Park?"

"I'm not interrupting you?"

"You are. Splendidly. Business exists for such interruptions.
There you are, the best client's chair."

Ann Veronica sat down, and Ramage's eager eyes feasted on her.

"I've been looking out for you," he said. "I confess it."

She had not, she reflected, remembered how prominent his eyes
were.

"I want some advice," said Ann Veronica.

"Yes?"

"You remember once, how we talked--at a gate on the Downs? We
talked about how a girl might get an independent living."

"Yes, yes."

"Well, you see, something has happened at home."

She paused.

"Nothing has happened to Mr. Stanley?"

"I've fallen out with my father. It was about--a question of
what I might do or might not do. He--In fact, he--he locked me
in my room. Practically."

Her breath left her for a moment.

"I SAY!" said Mr. Ramage.

"I wanted to go to an art-student ball of which he disapproved."

"And why shouldn't you?"

"I felt that sort of thing couldn't go on. So I packed up and
came to London next day."

"To a friend?"

"To lodgings--alone."

"I say, you know, you have some pluck. You did it on your own?"

Ann Veronica smiled. "Quite on my own," she said.

"It's magnificent!" He leaned back and regarded her with his
head a little on one side. "By Jove!" he said, "there is
something direct about you. I wonder if I should have locked you
up if I'd been your father. Luckily I'm not. And you started out
forthwith to fight the world and be a citizen on your own basis?"
He came forward again and folded his hands under him on his desk.

"How has the world taken it?" he asked. "If I was the world I
think I should have put down a crimson carpet, and asked you to
say what you wanted, and generally walk over me. But the world
didn't do that."

"Not exactly."

"It presented a large impenetrable back, and went on thinking
about something else."

"It offered from fifteen to two-and-twenty shillings a week--for
drudgery."

"The world has no sense of what is due to youth and courage. It
never has had."

"Yes," said Ann Veronica. "But the thing is, I want a job."

"Exactly! And so you came along to me. And you see, I don't
turn my back, and I am looking at you and thinking about you from
top to toe."

"And what do you think I ought to do?"

"Exactly!" He lifted a paper-weight and dabbed it gently down
again. "What ought you to do?"

"I've hunted up all sorts of things."

"The point to note is that fundamentally you don't want
particularly to do it."

"I don't understand."

"You want to be free and so forth, yes. But you don't
particularly want to do the job that sets you free--for its own
sake. I mean that it doesn't interest you in itself."

"I suppose not."

"That's one of our differences. We men are like children. We
can get absorbed in play, in games, in the business we do.
That's really why we do them sometimes rather well and get on.
But women--women as a rule don't throw themselves into things
like that. As a matter of fact it isn't their affair. And as a
natural consequence, they don't do so well, and they don't get
on--and so the world doesn't pay them. They don't catch on to
discursive interests, you see, because they are more serious,
they are concentrated on the central reality of life, and a
little impatient of its--its outer aspects. At least that, I
think, is what makes a clever woman's independent career so much
more difficult than a clever man's."

"She doesn't develop a specialty." Ann Veronica was doing her
best to follow him.

"She has one, that's why. Her specialty is the central thing in
life, it is life itself, the warmth of life, sex--and love."

He pronounced this with an air of profound conviction and with
his eyes on Ann Veronica's face. He had an air of having told
her a deep, personal secret. She winced as he thrust the fact at
her, was about to answer, and checked herself. She colored
faintly.

"That doesn't touch the question I asked you," she said. "It may
be true, but it isn't quite what I have in mind."

"Of course not," said Ramage, as one who rouses himself from deep
preoccupations And he began to question her in a business-like
way upon the steps she had taken and the inquiries she had made.
He displayed none of the airy optimism of their previous talk
over the downland gate. He was helpful, but gravely dubious.
"You see," he said, "from my point of view you're grown
up--you're as old as all the goddesses and the contemporary of
any man alive. But from the--the economic point of view you're a
very young and altogether inexperienced person."

He returned to and developed that idea. "You're still," he said,
"in the educational years. From the point of view of most things
in the world of employment which a woman can do reasonably well
and earn a living by, you're unripe and half-educated. If you
had taken your degree, for example."

He spoke of secretarial work, but even there she would need to be
able to do typing and shorthand. He made it more and more evident
to her that her proper course was not to earn a salary but to
accumulate equipment. "You see," he said, "you are like an
inaccessible gold-mine in all this sort of matter. You're
splendid stuff, you know, but you've got nothing ready to sell.
That's the flat business situation."

He thought. Then he slapped his hand on his desk and looked up
with the air of a man struck by a brilliant idea. "Look here,"
he said, protruding his eyes; "why get anything to do at all just
yet? Why, if you must be free, why not do the sensible thing?
Make yourself worth a decent freedom. Go on with your studies at
the Imperial College, for example, get a degree, and make
yourself good value. Or become a thorough-going typist and
stenographer and secretarial expert."

"But I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"You see, if I do go home my father objects to the College, and
as for typing--"

"Don't go home."

"Yes, but you forget; how am I to live?"

"Easily. Easily. . . . Borrow. . . . From me."

"I couldn't do that," said Ann Veronica, sharply.

"I see no reason why you shouldn't."

"It's impossible."

"As one friend to another. Men are always doing it, and if you
set up to be a man--"

"No, it's absolutely out of the question, Mr. Ramage." And Ann
Veronica's face was hot.

Ramage pursed his rather loose lips and shrugged his shoulders,
with his eyes fixed steadily upon her. "Well anyhow-- I don't
see the force of your objection, you know. That's my advice to
you. Here I am. Consider you've got resources deposited with
me. Perhaps at the first blush--it strikes you as odd. People
are brought up to be so shy about money. As though it was
indelicate--it's just a sort of shyness. But here I am to
draw upon. Here I am as an alternative either to nasty work--or
going home."

"It's very kind of you--" began Ann Veronica.

"Not a bit. Just a friendly polite suggestion. I don't suggest
any philanthropy. I shall charge you five per cent., you know,
fair and square."

Ann Veronica opened her lips quickly and did not speak. But the
five per cent. certainly did seem to improve the aspect of
Ramage's suggestion.

"Well, anyhow, consider it open." He dabbed with his
paper-weight again, and spoke in an entirely indifferent tone.
"And now tell me, please, how you eloped from Morningside Park.
How did you get your luggage out of the house? Wasn't it--wasn't
it rather in some respects--rather a lark? It's one of my
regrets for my lost youth. I never ran away from anywhere with
anybody anywhen. And now--I suppose I should be considered too
old. I don't feel it. . . . Didn't you feel rather EVENTFUL--in
the train--coming up to Waterloo?"

Part 6

Before Christmas Ann Veronica had gone to Ramage again and
accepted this offer she had at first declined.

Many little things had contributed to that decision. The chief
influence was her awakening sense of the need of money. She had
been forced to buy herself that pair of boots and a
walking-skirt, and the pearl necklace at the pawnbrokers' had
yielded very disappointingly. And, also, she wanted to borrow
that money. It did seem in so many ways exactly what Ramage said
it was--the sensible thing to do. There it was--to be borrowed.
It would put the whole adventure on a broader and better footing;
it seemed, indeed, almost the only possible way in which she
might emerge from her rebellion with anything like success. If
only for the sake of her argument with her home, she wanted
success. And why, after all, should she not borrow money from
Ramage?

It was so true what he said; middle-class people WERE
ridiculously squeamish about money. Why should they be?

She and Ramage were friends, very good friends. If she was in a
position to help him she would help him; only it happened to be
the other way round. He was in a position to help her. What was
the objection?

She found it impossible to look her own diffidence in the face.
So she went to Ramage and came to the point almost at once.

"Can you spare me forty pounds?" she said.

Mr. Ramage controlled his expression and thought very quickly.

"Agreed," he said, "certainly," and drew a checkbook toward him.

"It's best," he said, "to make it a good round sum.

"I won't give you a check though-- Yes, I will. I'll give you an
uncrossed check, and then you can get it at the bank here, quite
close by. . . . You'd better not have all the money on you; you
had better open a small account in the post-office and draw it
out a fiver at a time. That won't involve references, as a bank
account would--and all that sort of thing. The money will last
longer, and--it won't bother you."

He stood up rather close to her and looked into her eyes. He
seemed to be trying to understand something very perplexing and
elusive. "It's jolly," he said, "to feel you have come to me.
It's a sort of guarantee of confidence. Last time--you made me
feel snubbed."

He hesitated, and went off at a tangent. "There's no end of
things I'd like to talk over with you. It's just upon my
lunch-time. Come and have lunch with me."

Ann Veronica fenced for a moment. "I don't want to take up your
time."

"We won't go to any of these City places. They're just all men,
and no one is safe from scandal. But I know a little place where
we'll get a little quiet talk."

Ann Veronica for some indefinable reason did not want to lunch
with him, a reason indeed so indefinable that she dismissed it,
and Ramage went through the outer office with her, alert and
attentive, to the vivid interest of the three clerks. The three
clerks fought for the only window, and saw her whisked into a
hansom. Their subsequent conversation is outside the scope of our
story.

"Ritter's!" said Ramage to the driver, "Dean Street."

It was rare that Ann Veronica used hansoms, and to be in one was
itself eventful and exhilarating. She liked the high, easy swing
of the thing over its big wheels, the quick clatter-patter of the
horse, the passage of the teeming streets. She admitted her
pleasure to Ramage.

And Ritter's, too, was very amusing and foreign and discreet; a
little rambling room with a number of small tables, with red
electric light shades and flowers. It was an overcast day,
albeit not foggy, and the electric light shades glowed warmly,
and an Italian waiter with insufficient English took Ramage's
orders, and waited with an appearance of affection. Ann Veronica
thought the whole affair rather jolly. Ritter sold better food
than most of his compatriots, and cooked it better, and Ramage,
with a fine perception of a feminine palate, ordered Vero Capri.
It was, Ann Veronica felt, as a sip or so of that remarkable
blend warmed her blood, just the sort of thing that her aunt
would not approve, to be lunching thus, tete-a-tete with a man;
and yet at the same time it was a perfectly innocent as well as
agreeable proceeding.

They talked across their meal in an easy and friendly manner
about Ann Veronica's affairs. He was really very bright and
clever, with a sort of conversational boldness that was just
within the limits of permissible daring. She described the
Goopes and the Fabians to him, and gave him a sketch of her
landlady; and he talked in the most liberal and entertaining way
of a modern young woman's outlook. He seemed to know a great
deal about life. He gave glimpses of possibilities. He roused
curiosities. He contrasted wonderfully with the empty
showing-off of Teddy. His friendship seemed a thing worth
having. . . .

But when she was thinking it over in her room that evening vague
and baffling doubts came drifting across this conviction. She
doubted how she stood toward him and what the restrained gleam of
his face might signify. She felt that perhaps, in her desire to
play an adequate part in the conversation, she had talked rather
more freely than she ought to have done, and given him a wrong
impression of herself.

Part 7

That was two days before Christmas Eve. The next morning came a
compact letter from her father.

"MY DEAR DAUGHTER," it ran,--"Here, on the verge of the season of
forgiveness I hold out a last hand to you in the hope of a
reconciliation. I ask you, although it is not my place to ask
you, to return home. This roof is still open to you. You will
not be taunted if you return and everything that can be done will
be done to make you happy.

"Indeed, I must implore you to return. This adventure of yours
has gone on altogether too long; it has become a serious distress
to both your aunt and myself. We fail altogether to understand
your motives in doing what you are doing, or, indeed, how you are
managing to do it, or what you are managing on. If you will
think only of one trifling aspect--the inconvenience it must be
to us to explain your absence--I think you may begin to realize
what it all means for us. I need hardly say that your aunt joins
with me very heartily in this request.

"Please come home. You will not find me unreasonable with you.

"Your affectionate

"FATHER."

Ann Veronica sat over her fire with her father's note in her
hand. "Queer letters he writes," she said. "I suppose most
people's letters are queer. Roof open--like a Noah's Ark. I
wonder if he really wants me to go home. It's odd how little I
know of him, and of how he feels and what he feels."

"I wonder how he treated Gwen."

Her mind drifted into a speculation about her sister. "I ought to
look up Gwen," she said. "I wonder what happened."

Then she fell to thinking about her aunt. "I would like to go
home," she cried, "to please her. She has been a dear.
Considering how little he lets her have."

The truth prevailed. "The unaccountable thing is that I wouldn't
go home to please her. She is, in her way, a dear. One OUGHT to
want to please her. And I don't. I don't care. I can't even
make myself care."

Presently, as if for comparison with her father's letter, she got
out Ramage's check from the box that contained her papers. For
so far she had kept it uncashed. She had not even endorsed it.

"Suppose I chuck it," she remarked, standing with the mauve slip
in her hand--"suppose I chuck it, and surrender and go home!
Perhaps, after all, Roddy was right!

"Father keeps opening the door and shutting it, but a time will
come--

"I could still go home!"

She held Ramage's check as if to tear it across. "No," she said
at last; "I'm a human being--not a timid female. What could I do
at home? The other's a crumple-up--just surrender. Funk! I'll
see it out."

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH

BIOLOGY

Part 1

January found Ann Veronica a student in the biological laboratory
of the Central Imperial College that towers up from among the
back streets in the angle between Euston Road and Great Portland
Street. She was working very steadily at the Advanced Course in
Comparative Anatomy, wonderfully relieved to have her mind
engaged upon one methodically developing theme in the place of
the discursive uncertainties of the previous two months, and
doing her utmost to keep right in the back of her mind and out of
sight the facts, firstly, that she had achieved this haven of
satisfactory activity by incurring a debt to Ramage of forty
pounds, and, secondly, that her present position was necessarily
temporary and her outlook quite uncertain.

The biological laboratory had an atmosphere that was all its own.

It was at the top of the building, and looked clear over a
clustering mass of inferior buildings toward Regent's Park. It
was long and narrow, a well-lit, well-ventilated, quiet gallery
of small tables and sinks, pervaded by a thin smell of methylated
spirit and of a mitigated and sterilized organic decay. Along
the inner side was a wonderfully arranged series of displayed
specimens that Russell himself had prepared. The supreme effect
for Ann Veronica was its surpassing relevance; it made every
other atmosphere she knew seem discursive and confused. The
whole place and everything in it aimed at one thing--to
illustrate, to elaborate, to criticise and illuminate, and make
ever plainer and plainer the significance of animal and vegetable
structure. It dealt from floor to ceiling and end to end with
the Theory of the Forms of Life; the very duster by the
blackboard was there to do its share in that work, the very
washers in the taps; the room was more simply concentrated in aim
even than a church. To that, perhaps, a large part of its
satisfyingness was due. Contrasted with the confused movement
and presences of a Fabian meeting, or the inexplicable enthusiasm
behind the suffrage demand, with the speeches that were partly
egotistical displays, partly artful manoeuvres, and partly
incoherent cries for unsoundly formulated ends, compared with the
comings and goings of audiences and supporters that were like the
eddy-driven drift of paper in the street, this long, quiet,
methodical chamber shone like a star seen through clouds.

Day after day for a measured hour in the lecture-theatre, with
elaborate power and patience, Russell pieced together difficulty
and suggestion, instance and counter-instance, in the elaborate
construction of the family tree of life. And then the students
went into the long laboratory and followed out these facts in
almost living tissue with microscope and scalpel, probe and
microtome, and the utmost of their skill and care, making now and
then a raid into the compact museum of illustration next door, in
which specimens and models and directions stood in disciplined
ranks, under the direction of the demonstrator Capes. There was
a couple of blackboards at each end of the aisle of tables, and
at these Capes, with quick and nervous speech that contrasted
vividly with Russell's slow, definitive articulation, directed
the dissection and made illuminating comments on the structures
under examination. Then he would come along the laboratory,
sitting down by each student in turn, checking the work and
discussing its difficulties, and answering questions arising out
of Russell's lecture.

Ann Veronica had come to the Imperial College obsessed by the
great figure of Russell, by the part he had played in the
Darwinian controversies, and by the resolute effect of the
grim-lipped, yellow, leonine face beneath the mane of silvery
hair. Capes was rather a discovery. Capes was something
superadded. Russell burned like a beacon, but Capes illuminated
by darting flashes and threw light, even if it was but momentary
light, into a hundred corners that Russell left steadfastly in
the shade.

Capes was an exceptionally fair man of two or three-and-thirty,
so ruddily blond that it was a mercy he had escaped light
eyelashes, and with a minor but by no means contemptible
reputation of his own. He talked at the blackboard in a
pleasant, very slightly lisping voice with a curious spontaneity,
and was sometimes very clumsy in his exposition, and sometimes
very vivid. He dissected rather awkwardly and hurriedly, but, on
the whole, effectively, and drew with an impatient directness
that made up in significance what it lacked in precision. Across
the blackboard the colored chalks flew like flights of variously
tinted rockets as diagram after diagram flickered into being.

There happened that year to be an unusual proportion of girls and
women in the advanced laboratory, perhaps because the class as a
whole was an exceptionally small one. It numbered nine, and four
of these were women students. As a consequence of its small
size, it was possible to get along with the work on a much easier
and more colloquial footing than a larger class would have
permitted. And a custom had grown up of a general tea at four
o'clock, under the auspices of a Miss Garvice, a tall and
graceful girl of distinguished intellectual incompetence, in whom
the hostess instinct seemed to be abnormally developed.

Capes would come to these teas; he evidently liked to come, and
he would appear in the doorway of the preparation-room, a
pleasing note of shyness in his manner, hovering for an
invitation.

From the first, Ann Veronica found him an exceptionally
interesting man. To begin with, he struck her as being the most
variable person she had ever encountered. At times he was
brilliant and masterful, talked round and over every one, and
would have been domineering if he had not been extraordinarily
kindly; at times he was almost monosyllabic, and defeated Miss
Garvice's most skilful attempts to draw him out. Sometimes he was
obviously irritable and uncomfortable and unfortunate in his
efforts to seem at ease. And sometimes he overflowed with a
peculiarly malignant wit that played, with devastating effect,
upon any topics that had the courage to face it. Ann Veronica's
experiences of men had been among more stable types--Teddy, who
was always absurd; her father, who was always authoritative and
sentimental; Manning, who was always Manning. And most of the
others she had met had, she felt, the same steadfastness.
Goopes, she was sure was always high-browed and slow and
Socratic. And Ramage too--about Ramage there would always be
that air of avidity, that air of knowledge and inquiry, the
mixture of things in his talk that were rather good with things
that were rather poor. But one could not count with any
confidence upon Capes.

The five men students were a mixed company. There was a very
white-faced youngster of eighteen who brushed back his hair
exactly in Russell's manner, and was disposed to be uncomfortably
silent when he was near her, and to whom she felt it was only
Christian kindness to be consistently pleasant; and a lax young
man of five-and-twenty in navy blue, who mingled Marx and Bebel
with the more orthodox gods of the biological pantheon. There
was a short, red-faced, resolute youth who inherited an
authoritative attitude upon bacteriology from his father; a
Japanese student of unassuming manners who drew beautifully and
had an imperfect knowledge of English; and a dark, unwashed
Scotchman with complicated spectacles, who would come every
morning as a sort of volunteer supplementary demonstrator, look
very closely at her work and her, tell her that her dissections
were "fairish," or "very fairish indeed," or "high above the
normal female standard," hover as if for some outbreak of
passionate gratitude and with admiring retrospects that made the
facetted spectacles gleam like diamonds, return to his own place.

The women, Ann Veronica thought, were not quite so interesting as
the men. There were two school-mistresses, one of whom--Miss
Klegg--might have been a first cousin to Miss Miniver, she had so
many Miniver traits; there was a preoccupied girl whose name Ann
Veronica never learned, but who worked remarkably well; and Miss
Garvice, who began by attracting her very greatly--she moved so
beautifully--and ended by giving her the impression that moving
beautifully was the beginning and end of her being.

Part 2

The next few weeks were a time of the very liveliest thought and
growth for Ann Veronica. The crowding impressions of the
previous weeks seemed to run together directly her mind left the
chaotic search for employment and came into touch again with a
coherent and systematic development of ideas. The advanced work
at the Central Imperial College was in the closest touch with
living interests and current controversies; it drew its
illustrations and material from Russell's two great
researches--upon the relation of the brachiopods to the
echinodermata, and upon the secondary and tertiary mammalian and
pseudo-mammalian factors in the free larval forms of various
marine organisms. Moreover, a vigorous fire of mutual criticism
was going on now between the Imperial College and the Cambridge
Mendelians and echoed in the lectures. From beginning to end it
was first-hand stuff.

But the influence of the science radiated far beyond its own
special field--beyond those beautiful but highly technical
problems with which we do not propose for a moment to trouble the
naturally terrified reader. Biology is an extraordinarily
digestive science. It throws out a number of broad experimental
generalizations, and then sets out to bring into harmony or
relation with these an infinitely multifarious collection of
phenomena. The little streaks upon the germinating area of an
egg, the nervous movements of an impatient horse, the trick of a
calculating boy, the senses of a fish, the fungus at the root of
a garden flower, and the slime upon a sea-wet rock--ten thousand
such things bear their witness and are illuminated. And not only
did these tentacular generalizations gather all the facts of
natural history and comparative anatomy together, but they seemed
always stretching out further and further into a world of
interests that lay altogether outside their legitimate bounds.

It came to Ann Veronica one night after a long talk with Miss
Miniver, as a sudden remarkable thing, as a grotesque, novel
aspect, that this slowly elaborating biological scheme had
something more than an academic interest for herself. And not
only so, but that it was after all, a more systematic and
particular method of examining just the same questions that
underlay the discussions of the Fabian Society, the talk of the
West Central Arts Club, the chatter of the studios and the deep,
the bottomless discussions of the simple-life homes. It was the
same Bios whose nature and drift and ways and methods and aspects
engaged them all. And she, she in her own person too, was this
eternal Bios, beginning again its recurrent journey to selection
and multiplication and failure or survival.

But this was but a momentary gleam of personal application, and
at this time she followed it up no further.

And now Ann Veronica's evenings were also becoming very busy.
She pursued her interest in the Socialist movement and in the
Suffragist agitation in the company of Miss Miniver. They went
to various central and local Fabian gatherings, and to a number
of suffrage meetings. Teddy Widgett hovered on the fringe of all
these gatherings, blinking at Ann Veronica and occasionally
making a wildly friendly dash at her, and carrying her and Miss
Miniver off to drink cocoa with a choice diversity of other
youthful and congenial Fabians after the meetings. Then Mr.
Manning loomed up ever and again into her world, full of a futile
solicitude, and almost always declaring she was splendid,
splendid, and wishing he could talk things out with her. Teas he
contributed to the commissariat of Ann Veronica's campaign--quite
a number of teas. He would get her to come to tea with him,
usually in a pleasant tea-room over a fruit-shop in Tottenham
Court Road, and he would discuss his own point of view and hint
at a thousand devotions were she but to command him. And he
would express various artistic sensibilities and aesthetic
appreciations in carefully punctuated sentences and a large,
clear voice. At Christmas he gave her a set of a small edition
of Meredith's novels, very prettily bound in flexible leather,
being guided in the choice of an author, as he intimated, rather
by her preferences than his own.

There was something markedly and deliberately liberal-minded in
his manner in all their encounters. He conveyed not only his
sense of the extreme want of correctitude in their unsanctioned
meetings, but also that, so far as he was concerned, this
irregularity mattered not at all, that he had flung--and kept on
flinging --such considerations to the wind.

And, in addition, she was now seeing and talking to Ramage almost
weekly, on a theory which she took very gravely, that they were
exceptionally friends. He would ask her to come to dinner with
him in some little Italian or semi-Bohemian restaurant in the
district toward Soho, or in one of the more stylish and
magnificent establishments about Piccadilly Circus, and for the
most part she did not care to refuse. Nor, indeed, did she want
to refuse. These dinners, from their lavish display of ambiguous
hors d'oeuvre to their skimpy ices in dishes of frilled paper,
with their Chianti flasks and Parmesan dishes and their polyglot
waiters and polyglot clientele, were very funny and bright; and
she really liked Ramage, and valued his help and advice. It was
interesting to see how different and characteristic his mode of
approach was to all sorts of questions that interested her, and
it was amusing to discover this other side to the life of a
Morningside Park inhabitant. She had thought that all
Morningside Park householders came home before seven at the
latest, as her father usually did. Ramage talked always about
women or some woman's concern, and very much about Ann Veronica's
own outlook upon life. He was always drawing contrasts between a
woman's lot and a man's, and treating her as a wonderful new
departure in this comparison. Ann Veronica liked their
relationship all the more because it was an unusual one.

After these dinners they would have a walk, usually to the Thames
Embankment to see the two sweeps of river on either side of
Waterloo Bridge; and then they would part at Westminster Bridge,
perhaps, and he would go on to Waterloo. Once he suggested they
should go to a music-hall and see a wonderful new dancer, but Ann
Veronica did not feel she cared to see a new dancer. So,
instead, they talked of dancing and what it might mean in a human
life. Ann Veronica thought it was a spontaneous release of
energy expressive of well-being, but Ramage thought that by
dancing, men, and such birds and animals as dance, come to feel
and think of their bodies.

This intercourse, which had been planned to warm Ann Veronica to
a familiar affection with Ramage, was certainly warming Ramage to
a constantly deepening interest in Ann Veronica. He felt that he
was getting on with her very slowly indeed, but he did not see
how he could get on faster. He had, he felt, to create certain
ideas and vivify certain curiosities and feelings in her. Until
that was done a certain experience of life assured him that a
girl is a locked coldness against a man's approach. She had all
the fascination of being absolutely perplexing in this respect.
On the one hand, she seemed to think plainly and simply, and
would talk serenely and freely about topics that most women have
been trained either to avoid or conceal; and on the other she was
unconscious, or else she had an air of being unconscious--that
was the riddle--to all sorts of personal applications that almost
any girl or woman, one might have thought, would have made. He
was always doing his best to call her attention to the fact that
he was a man of spirit and quality and experience, and she a
young and beautiful woman, and that all sorts of constructions
upon their relationship were possible, trusting her to go on from
that to the idea that all sorts of relationships were possible.
She responded with an unfaltering appearance of insensibility,
and never as a young and beautiful woman conscious of sex; always
in the character of an intelligent girl student.

His perception of her personal beauty deepened and quickened with
each encounter. Every now and then her general presence became
radiantly dazzling in his eyes; she would appear in the street
coming toward him, a surprise, so fine and smiling and welcoming
was she, so expanded and illuminated and living, in contrast with
his mere expectation. Or he would find something--a wave in her
hair, a little line in the contour of her brow or neck, that made
an exquisite discovery.

He was beginning to think about her inordinately. He would sit in
his inner office and compose conversations with her, penetrating,
illuminating, and nearly conclusive--conversations that never
proved to be of the slightest use at all with her when he met her
face to face. And he began also at times to wake at night and
think about her.

He thought of her and himself, and no longer in that vein of
incidental adventure in which he had begun. He thought, too, of
the fretful invalid who lay in the next room to his, whose money
had created his business and made his position in the world.

"I've had most of the things I wanted," said Ramage, in the
stillness of the night.

Part 3

For a time Ann Veronica's family had desisted from direct offers
of a free pardon; they were evidently waiting for her resources
to come to an end. Neither father, aunt, nor brothers made a
sign, and then one afternoon in early February her aunt came up
in a state between expostulation and dignified resentment, but
obviously very anxious for Ann Veronica's welfare. "I had a dream
in the night," she said. "I saw you in a sort of sloping,
slippery place, holding on by your hands and slipping. You
seemed to me to be slipping and slipping, and your face was
white. It was really most vivid, most vivid! You seemed to be
slipping and just going to tumble and holding on. It made me
wake up, and there I lay thinking of you, spending your nights up
here all alone, and no one to look after you. I wondered what
you could be doing and what might be happening to you. I said to
myself at once, 'Either this is a coincidence or the caper
sauce.' But I made sure it was you. I felt I MUST do something
anyhow, and up I came just as soon as I could to see you."

She had spoken rather rapidly. "I can't help saying it," she
said, with the quality of her voice altering, "but I do NOT think
it is right for an unprotected girl to be in London alone as you
are."

"But I'm quite equal to taking care of myself, aunt."

"It must be most uncomfortable here. It is most uncomfortable
for every one concerned."

She spoke with a certain asperity. She felt that Ann Veronica
had duped her in that dream, and now that she had come up to
London she might as well speak her mind.

"No Christmas dinner," she said, "or anything nice! One doesn't
even know what you are doing."

"I'm going on working for my degree."

"Why couldn't you do that at home?"

"I'm working at the Imperial College. You see, aunt, it's the
only possible way for me to get a good degree in my subjects, and
father won't hear of it. There'd only be endless rows if I was at
home. And how could I come home--when he locks me in rooms and
all that?"

"I do wish this wasn't going on," said Miss Stanley, after a
pause. "I do wish you and your father could come to some
agreement."

Ann Veronica responded with conviction: "I wish so, too."

"Can't we arrange something? Can't we make a sort of treaty?"

"He wouldn't keep it. He would get very cross one evening and no
one would dare to remind him of it."

"How can you say such things?"

"But he would!"

"Still, it isn't your place to say so."

"It prevents a treaty."

"Couldn't _I_ make a treaty?"

Ann Veronica thought, and could not see any possible treaty that
would leave it open for her to have quasi-surreptitious dinners
with Ramage or go on walking round the London squares discussing
Socialism with Miss Miniver toward the small hours. She had
tasted freedom now, and so far she had not felt the need of
protection. Still, there certainly was something in the idea of

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