Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/152

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142
XVII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

this prodigious young man that would make him feel as how base a thing she held his proposal that they should constitute themselves into a company for drawing profit from Verena. Unfortunately, the most sarcastic inquiry that could occur to her as a response was also the most obvious one, so that he hesitated but a moment with his rejoinder after she had asked him how many thousands of dollars he expected to make.

'For Miss Verena? It depends upon the time. She'd run for ten years, at least. I can't figure it up till all the States have been heard from,' he said, smiling.

'I don't mean for Miss Tarrant, I mean for you,' Olive returned, with the impression that she was looking him straight in the eye.

'Oh, as many as you'll leave me!' Matthias Pardon answered, with a laugh that contained all, and more than all, the jocularity of the American press. 'To speak seriously,' he added, 'I don't want to make money out of it.'

'What do you want to make, then?'

'Well, I want to make history! I want to help the ladies.'

'The ladies?' Olive murmured. 'What do you know about ladies?' she was on the point of adding, when his promptness checked her.

'All over the world. I want to work for their emancipation. I regard it as the great modern question.'

Miss Chancellor got up now; this was rather too strong. Whether, eventually, she was successful in what she attempted, the reader of her history will judge; but at this moment she had not that promise of success which resides in a willingness to make use of every aid that offers. Such is the penalty of being of a fastidious, exclusive, uncompromising nature; of seeing things not simply and sharply, but in perverse relations, in intertwisted strands. It seemed to our young lady that nothing could be less attractive than to owe her emancipation to such a one as Matthias Pardon; and it is curious that those qualities which he had in common with Verena, and which in her seemed to Olive romantic and touching—her having sprung from the