He had “put his foot down,” and said she must not go.
Going involved two things that all Ann Veronica’s tact had been ineffectual to conceal from her aunt and father. Her usual dignified reserve had availed her nothing. One point was that she was to wear fancy dress in the likeness of a Corsair’s bride, and the other was that she was to spend whatever vestiges of the night remained after the dance was over in London with the Widgett girls and a select party in “quite a decent little hotel” near Fitzroy Square.
“But, my dear!” said Ann Veronica’s aunt.
“You see,” said Ann Veronica, with the air of one who shares a difficulty, “I’ve promised to go. I didn’t realize—I don’t see how I can get out of it now.”
Then it was her father issued his ultimatum. He had conveyed it to her, not verbally, but by means of a letter, which seemed to her a singularly ignoble method of prohibition. “He couldn’t look me in the face and say it,” said Ann Veronica.
“But of course it’s aunt’s doing really.”
And thus it was that as Ann Veronica neared the gates of home, she said to herself: “I’ll have it out with him somehow. I’ll have it out with him. And if he won’t—”
But she did not give even unspoken words to the alternative at that time.
Ann Veronica’s father was a solicitor with a good deal of company business: a lean, trustworthy, worried-looking, neuralgic, clean-shaven man of fifty-three, with a hard mouth, a sharp nose, iron-gray hair, gray eyes, gold-framed glasses, and a small, circular baldness at the crown of his head. His name was Peter. He had had five children at irregular intervals, of whom Ann Veronica was the youngest, so that as a parent he came to her perhaps a little practised and jaded and inattentive; and he called her his “little Vee,” and patted her unexpectedly and disconcertingly, and treated her promiscuously as of any age between eleven and eight-and-twenty. The City worried him a good deal, and what energy he had left over he spent partly in golf, a game he treated very seriously, and partly in the practices of microscopic petrography.