Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/149

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XVII.
139
THE BOSTONIANS.

'You mean everything you don't! Well, if you like every one, I haven't the least objection. It would only be preferences that I should find alarming. I am not the least afraid of your marrying a repulsive man; your danger would come from an attractive one.'

'I'm glad to hear you admit that some are attractive!' Verena exclaimed, with the light laugh which her reverence for Miss Chancellor had not yet quenched. 'It sometimes seems as if there weren't any you could like!'

'I can imagine a man I should like very much,' Olive replied, after a moment. 'But I don't like those I see. They seem to me poor creatures.' And, indeed, her uppermost feeling in regard to them was a kind of cold scorn; she thought most of them palterers and bullies. The end of the colloquy was that Verena, having assented, with her usual docility, to her companion's optimistic contention that it was a 'phase,' this taste for evening-calls from collegians and newspaper-men, and would consequently pass away with the growth of her mind, remarked that the injustice of men might be an accident or might be a part of their nature, but at any rate she should have to change a good deal before she should want to marry.

About the middle of December, Miss Chancellor received a visit from Matthias Pardon, who had come to ask her what she meant to do about Verena. She had never invited him to call upon her, and the appearance of a gentleman whose desire to see her was so irrepressible as to dispense with such a preliminary was not in her career an accident frequent enough to have taught her equanimity. She thought Mr. Pardon's visit a liberty; but, if she expected to convey this idea to him by withholding any suggestion that he should sit down, she was greatly mistaken, inasmuch as he cut the ground from under her feet by himself offering her a chair. His manner represented hospitality enough for both of them, and she was obliged to listen, on the edge of her sofa (she could at least seat herself where she liked), to his extraordinary inquiry. Of course she was not obliged to answer it, and indeed she scarcely understood it He explained that it was prompted by the intense interest he felt in Miss Verena; but that