Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/104

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94
XII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

'Are you really going? I haven't made you promise half the things I want yet. But we will settle that in New York. How do you get on with Olive Chancellor?' Mrs. Luna continued, making her points, as she always did, with eagerness, though her roundness and her dimples had hitherto prevented her from being accused of that vice. It was her practice to speak of her sister by her whole name, and you would have supposed, from her usual manner of alluding to her, that Olive was much the older, instead of having been born ten years later than Adeline. She had as many ways as possible of marking the gulf that divided them; but she bridged it over lightly now by saying to Basil Ransom: 'Isn't she a dear old thing?'

This bridge, he saw, would not bear his weight, and her question seemed to him to have more audacity than sense. Why should she be so insincere? She might know that a man couldn't recognise Miss Chancellor in such a description as that. She was not old—she was sharply young; and it was inconceivable to him, though he had just seen the little prophetess kiss her, that she should ever become any one's 'dear.' Least of all was she a 'thing'; she was intensely, fearfully, a person. He hesitated a moment, and then he replied: 'She's a very remarkable woman.'

'Take care—don't be reckless!' cried Mrs. Luna. 'Do you think she is very dreadful?'

'Don't say anything against my cousin,' Basil answered; and at that moment Miss Chancellor re-entered the room. She murmured some request that he would excuse her absence, but her sister interrupted her with an inquiry about Miss Tarrant.

'Mr. Ransom thinks her wonderfully charming. Why didn't you show her to me? Do you want to keep her all to yourself?'

Olive rested her eyes for some moments upon Mrs. Luna, without speaking. Then she said: 'Your veil is not put on straight, Adeline.'

'I look like a monster—that, evidently, is what you mean!' Adeline exclaimed, going to the mirror to rearrange the peccant tissue.

Miss Chancellor did not again ask Ransom to be seated;