Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/140

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130
XVI.
THE BOSTONIANS.

so prominent. But everything that had been said was benighted and vulgar; the place seemed thick with the very atmosphere out of which she wished to lift Verena. They were treating her as a show, as a social resource, and the two young men from the College were laughing at her shamelessly. She was not meant for that, and Olive would save her. Verena was so simple, she couldn't see herself; she was the only pure spirit in the odious group.

'I want you to address audiences that are worth addressing—to convince people who are serious and sincere.' Olive herself, as she spoke, heard the great shake in her voice. 'Your mission is not to exhibit yourself as a pastime for individuals, but to touch the heart of communities, of nations.'

'Dear madam, I'm sure Miss Tarrant will touch my heart!' Mr. Burrage objected, gallantly.

'Well, I don't know but she judges you young men fairly,' said Mrs. Tarrant, with a sigh.

Verena, diverted a moment from her communion with her friend, considered Mr. Burrage with a smile. 'I don't believe you have got any heart, and I shouldn't care much if you had!'

'You have no idea how much the way you say that increases my desire to hear you speak.'

'Do as you please, my dear,' said Olive, almost inaudibly. 'My carriage must be there—I must leave you, in any case.'

'I can see you don't want it,' said Verena, wondering. 'You would stay if you liked it, wouldn't you?'

'I don't know what I should do. Come out with me!' Olive spoke almost with fierceness.

'Well, you'll send them away no better than they came,' said Matthias Pardon.

'I guess you had better come round some other night,' Selah suggested pacifically, but with a significance which fell upon Olive's ear.

Mr. Gracie seemed inclined to make the sturdiest protest. 'Look here, Miss Tarrant; do you want to save Harvard College, or do you not?' he demanded, with a humorous frown.

'I didn't know you were Harvard College!' Verena returned as humorously.