Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/217

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to rise; what Adeline cared for was the fallen aristocracy (it seemed to be falling everywhere very much; was not Basil Ransom an example of it? was he not like a French gentilhomme de province after the Revolution? or an old monarchical émigré from the Languedoc?), the despoiled patriciate, I say, whose attitude was noble and touching, and toward whom one might exercise a charity as discreet as their pride was sensitive. In all Mrs. Luna's visions of herself, her discretion was the leading feature. 'Are you going to let ten years elapse again before you come?' she asked, as Basil Ransom bade her good-night. 'You must let me know, because between this and your next visit I shall have time to go to Europe and come back. I shall take care to arrive the day before.'

Instead of answering this sally, Ransom said, 'Are you not going one of these days to Boston? Are you not going to pay your sister another visit?'

Mrs. Luna stared. 'What good will that do you? Excuse my stupidity,' she added; 'of course, it gets me away. Thank you very much!'

'I don't want you to go away; but I want to hear more about Miss Olive.'

'Why in the world? You know you loathe her!' Here, before Ransom could reply, Mrs. Luna again overtook herself. 'I verily believe that by Miss Olive you mean Miss Verena!' Her eyes charged him a moment with this perverse intention; then she exclaimed, 'Basil Ransom, are you in love with that creature?'

He gave a perfectly natural laugh, not pleading guilty, in order to practise on Mrs. Luna, but expressing the simple state of the case. 'How should I be? I have seen her but twice in my life.'

'If you had seen her more, I shouldn't be afraid! Fancy your wanting to pack me off to Boston!' his hostess went on. 'I am in no hurry to stay with Olive again; besides, that girl takes up the whole house. You had better go there yourself.'

'I should like nothing better,' said Ransom.

'Perhaps you would like me to ask Verena to spend a month with me—it might be a way of attracting you