Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/102

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Verena did not understand further than to see that she ought already to have departed; and the simplest response was to kiss Miss Chancellor, an act which she briefly performed. Basil Ransom understood still less, and it was a melancholy commentary on his contention that men are not inferior, that this meeting could not come, however rapidly, to a close without his plunging into a blunder which necessarily aggravated those he had already made. He had been invited by the little prophetess, and yet he had not been invited; but he did not take that up, because he must absolutely leave Boston on the morrow, and, besides, Miss Chancellor appeared to have something to say to it. But he put out his hand to Verena and said, 'Goodbye, Miss Tarrant; are we not to have the pleasure of hearing you in New York? I am afraid we are sadly sunk.'

'Certainly, I should like to raise my voice in the biggest city,' the girl replied.

'Well, try to come on. I won't refute you. It would be a very stupid world, after all, if we always knew what women were going to say.'

Verena was conscious of the approach of the Charles Street car, as well as of the fact that Miss Chancellor was in pain; but she lingered long enough to remark that she could see he had the old-fashioned ideas—he regarded woman as the toy of man.

'Don't say the toy—say the joy!' Ransom exclaimed. 'There is one statement I will venture to advance; I am quite as fond of you as you are of each other!'

'Much he knows about that!' said Verena, with a sidelong smile at Olive Chancellor.

For Olive, it made her more beautiful than ever; still, there was no trace of this mere personal elation in the splendid sententiousness with which, turning to Mr. Ransom, she remarked: 'What women may be, or may not be, to each other, I won't attempt just now to say; but what the truth may be to a human soul, I think perhaps even a woman may faintly suspect!'

'The truth? My dear cousin, your truth is a most vain thing!'