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!”
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—”
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.