Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/105

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
XII.
95
THE BOSTONIANS.

she appeared to take it for granted that he would leave her now. But instead of this he returned to the subject of Verena; he asked her whether she supposed the girl would come out in public—would go about like Mrs. Farrinder?

'Come out in public!' Olive repeated; 'in public? Why, you don't imagine that pure voice is to be hushed?'

'Oh, hushed, no! it's too sweet for that. But not raised to a scream; not forced and cracked and ruined. She oughtn't to become like the others. She ought to remain apart.'

'Apart—apart?' said Miss Chancellor; 'when we shall all be looking to her, gathering about her, praying for her!' There was an exceeding scorn in her voice. 'If I can help her, she shall be an immense power for good.'

'An immense power for quackery, my dear Miss Olive!' This broke from Basil Ransom's lips in spite of a vow he had just taken not to say anything that should 'aggravate' his hostess, who was in a state of tension it was not difficult to detect. But he had lowered his tone to friendly pleading, and the offensive word was mitigated by his smile.

She moved away from him, backwards, as if he had given her a push. 'Ah, well, now you are reckless,' Mrs. Luna remarked, drawing out her ribbons before the mirror.

'I don't think you would interfere if you knew how little you understand us,' Miss Chancellor said to Ransom.

'Whom do you mean by "us"—your whole delightful sex? I don't understand you, Miss Olive.'

'Come away with me, and I'll explain her as we go,' Mrs. Luna went on, having finished her toilet.

Ransom offered his hand in farewell to his hostess; but Olive found it impossible to do anything but ignore the gesture. She could not have let him touch her. 'Well, then, if you must exhibit her to the multitude, bring her on to New York,' he said, with the same attempt at a light treatment.

'You'll have me in New York—you don't want any one else!' Mrs. Luna ejaculated, coquettishly. 'I have made up my mind to winter there now.'

Olive Chancellor looked from one to the other of her two relatives, one near and the other distant, but each so