Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/142

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132
XVI.
THE BOSTONIANS.

with a proper invitation, his daughter would be very happy to address Harvard College at large. Mr. Burrage and Mr. Gracie said they would invite her on the spot, in the name of the University; and Matthias Pardon reflected (and asserted) with glee that this would be the newest thing yet. But he added that they would have a high time with Miss Chancellor first, and this was evidently the conviction of the company.

'I can see you are angry at something,' Verena said to Olive, as the two stood there in the starlight. 'I hope it isn't me. What have I done?'

'I am not angry—I am anxious. I am so afraid I shall lose you. Verena, don't fail me—don't fail me!' Olive spoke low, with a kind of passion.

'Fail you? How can I fail?'

'You can't, of course you can't. Your star is above you. But don't listen to them.'

'To whom do you mean, Olive? To my parents?'

'Oh no, not your parents,' Miss Chancellor replied, with some sharpness. She paused a moment, and then she said: 'I don't care for your parents. I have told you that before; but now that I have seen them—as they wished, as you wished, and I didn't—I don't care for them; I must repeat it, Verena. I should be dishonest if I let you think I did.'

'Why, Olive Chancellor!' Verena murmured, as if she were trying, in spite of the sadness produced by this declaration, to do justice to her friend's impartiality.

'Yes, I am hard; perhaps I am cruel; but we must be hard if we wish to triumph. Don't listen to young men when they try to mock and muddle you. They don't care for you; they don't care for us. They care only for their pleasure, for what they believe to be the right of the stronger. The stronger? I am not so sure!'

'Some of them care so much—are supposed to care too much—for us,' Verena said, with a smile that looked dim in the darkness.

'Yes, if we will give up everything. I have asked you before—are you prepared to give up?'

'Do you mean, to give you up?'