Ann Veronica found herself in the presence of the most disconcerting fact in human experience, the kindliness of people you believe to be thoroughly wrong. She took the tray with both hands, gulped, and gave way to tears.
Her aunt leaped unhappily to the thought of penitence.
“My dear,” she began, with an affectionate hand on Ann Veronica’s shoulder, “I do so wish you would realize how it grieves your father.”
Ann Veronica flung away from her hand, and the pepper-pot on the tray upset, sending a puff of pepper into the air and instantly filling them both with an intense desire to sneeze.
“I don’t think you see,” she replied, with tears on her cheeks, and her brows knitting, “how it shames and, ah!—disgraces me—ah TISHU!”
She put down the tray with a concussion on her toilet-table.
“But, dear, think! He is your father. SHOOH!”
“That’s no reason,” said Ann Veronica, speaking through her handkerchief and stopping abruptly.
Niece and aunt regarded each other for a moment over their pocket-handkerchiefs with watery but antagonistic eyes, each far too profoundly moved to see the absurdity of the position.
“I hope,” said Miss Stanley, with dignity, and turned doorward with features in civil warfare. “Better state of mind,” she gasped....
Ann Veronica stood in the twilight room staring at the door that had slammed upon her aunt, her pocket-handkerchief rolled tightly in her hand. Her soul was full of the sense of disaster. She had made her first fight for dignity and freedom as a grown-up and independent Person, and this was how the universe had treated her. It had neither succumbed to her nor wrathfully overwhelmed her. It had thrust her back with an undignified scuffle, with vulgar comedy, with an unendurable, scornful grin.
“By God!” said Ann Veronica for the first time in her life. “But I will! I will!”
CHAPTER THE FIFTH
THE FLIGHT TO LONDON
Ann Veronica had an impression that she did not sleep at all that night, and at any rate she got through an immense amount of feverish feeling and thinking.
What was she going to do?