to Ransom to add: 'By the way, Miss Birdseye, perhaps you will be so kind as not to mention this meeting of ours to my cousin, in case of your seeing her again. I have a perfectly good conscience in not calling upon her, but I shouldn't like her to think that I announced my slighting intention all over the town. I don't want to offend her, and she had better not know that I have been in Boston. If you don't tell her, no one else will.'
'Do you wish me to conceal———?' murmured Miss Birdseye, panting a little.
'No, I don't want you to conceal anything. I only want you to let this incident pass—to say nothing.'
'Well, I never did anything of that kind.'
'Of what kind?' Ransom was half vexed, half touched by her inability to enter into his point of view, and her resistance made him hold to his idea the more. 'It is very simple, what I ask of you. You are under no obligation to tell Miss Chancellor everything that happens to you, are you?'
His request seemed still something of a shock to the poor old lady's candour. 'Well, I see her very often, and we talk a great deal. And then—won't Verena tell her?'
'I have thought of that—but I hope not.'
'She tells her most everything. Their union is so close.'
'She won't want her to be wounded,' Ransom said, ingeniously.
'Well, you are considerate.' And Miss Birdseye continued to gaze at him. 'It's a pity you can't sympathise.'
'As I tell you, perhaps Miss Tarrant will bring me round. You have before you a possible convert,' Ransom went on, without, I fear, putting up the least little prayer to heaven that his dishonesty might be forgiven.
'I should be very happy to think that—after I have told you her address in this secret way.' A smile of infinite mildness glimmered in Miss Birdseye's face, and she added: 'Well, I guess that will be your fate. She has affected so many. I would keep very quiet if I thought that. Yes, she will bring you round.'
'I will let you know as soon as she does,' Basil Ransom said. 'Here is your car at last.'