Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/139

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XVI.
129
THE BOSTONIANS.

advantage indeed. We are sunk in ignorance and prejudice.'

'Ah, my prejudices,' Burrage went on; 'if you could see them—I assure you they are something monstrous!'

'Give them a regular ducking and make them gasp,' Matthias Pardon cried. 'If you want an opportunity to act on Harvard College, now's your chance. These gentlemen will carry the news; it will be the narrow end of the wedge.'

'I can't tell what you like,' Verena said, still looking into Olive's eyes.

'I'm sure Miss Chancellor likes everything here,' Mrs. Tarrant remarked, with a noble confidence.

Selah had reappeared by this time; his lofty, contemplative person was framed by the doorway. 'Want to try a little inspiration?' he inquired, looking round on the circle with an encouraging inflection.

'I'll do it alone, if you prefer,' Verena said, soothingly to her friend. 'It might be a good chance to try without father.'

'You don't mean to say you ain't going to be supported?' Mrs. Tarrant exclaimed, with dismay.

'Ah, I beseech you, give us the whole programme—don't omit any leading feature!' Mr. Burrage was heard to plead.

'My only interest is to draw her out,' said Selah, defending his integrity. 'I will drop right out if I don't seem to vitalise. I have no desire to draw attention to my own poor gifts.' This declaration appeared to be addressed to Miss Chancellor.

'Well, there will be more inspiration if you don't touch her,' Matthias Pardon said to him. 'It will seem to come right down from—well, wherever it does come from.'

'Yes, we don't pretend to say that,' Mrs. Tarrant murmured.

This little discussion had brought the blood to Olive's face; she felt that every one present was looking at her—Verena most of all—and that here was a chance to take a more complete possession of the girl. Such chances were agitating; moreover, she didn't like, on any occasion, to be