Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/224

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XXIII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

Miss Chancellor, who is a kind of relation of mine, and you were very good to me.'

'What did I do?' asked Miss Birdseye, candidly. Then, before he could answer her, she recognised him. 'I remember you now, and Olive bringing you! You're a Southern gentleman—she told me about you afterwards. You don't approve of our great struggle—you want us to be kept down.' The old lady spoke with perfect mildness, as if she had long ago done with passion and resentment. Then she added, 'Well, I presume we can't have the sympathy of all.

'Doesn't it look as if you had my sympathy, when I get into a car on purpose to see you home—one of the principal agitators?' Ransom inquired, laughing.

'Did you get in on purpose?'

'Quite on purpose. I am not so bad as Miss Chancellor thinks me.'

'Oh, I presume you have your ideas,' said Miss Birdseye. 'Of course, Southerners have peculiar views. I suppose they retain more than one might think. I hope you won't ride too far—I know my way round Boston.'

'Don't object to me, or think me officious,' Ransom replied. 'I want to ask you something.'

Miss Birdseye looked at him again. 'Oh yes, I place you now; you conversed some with Doctor Prance.'

'To my great edification!' Ransom exclaimed. 'And I hope Doctor Prance is well.'

'She looks after every one's health but her own,' said Miss Birdseye, smiling. 'When I tell her that, she says she hasn't got any to look after. She says she's the only woman in Boston that hasn't got a doctor. She was determined she wouldn't be a patient, and it seemed as if the only way not to be one was to be a doctor. She is trying to make me sleep; that's her principal occupation.'

'Is it possible you don't sleep yet?' Ransom asked, almost tenderly.

'Well, just a little. But by the time I get to sleep I have to get up. I can't sleep when I want to live.'

'You ought to come down South,' the young man suggested. 'In that languid air you would doze deliriously!'