Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/101

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XII.
91
THE BOSTONIANS.

say to Helen of Troy and the fearful carnage she excited? It is well known that the Empress of France was at the bottom of the last war in that country. And as for our four fearful years of slaughter, of course you won't deny that there the ladies were the great motive power. The Abolitionists brought it on, and were not the Abolitionists principally females? Who was that celebrity that was mentioned last night?—Eliza P. Moseley. I regard Eliza as the cause of the biggest war of which history preserves the record.'

Basil Ransom enjoyed his humour the more because Verena appeared to enjoy it; and the look with which she replied to him, at the end of this little tirade, 'Why, sir, you ought to take the platform too; we might go round together as poison and antidote!'—this made him feel that he had convinced her, for the moment, quite as much as it was important he should. In Verena's face, however, it lasted but an instant—an instant after she had glanced at Olive Chancellor, who, with her eyes fixed intently on the ground (a look she was to learn to know so well), had a strange expression. The girl slowly got up; she felt that she must go. She guessed Miss Chancellor didn't like this handsome joker (it was so that Basil Ransom struck her); and it was impressed upon her ('in time,' as she thought) that her new friend would be more serious even than she about the woman-question, serious as she had hitherto believed herself to be.

'I should like so much to have the pleasure of seeing you again,' Ransom continued. 'I think I should be able to interpret history for you by a new light.'

'Well, I should be very happy to see you in my home.' These words had barely fallen from Verena's lips (her mother told her they were, in general, the proper thing to say when people expressed such a desire as that; she must not let it be assumed that she would come first to them)—she had hardly uttered this hospitable speech when she felt the hand of her hostess upon her arm and became aware that a passionate appeal sat in Olive's eyes.

'You will just catch the Charles Street car,' that young woman murmured, with muffled sweetness.