Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/239

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XXIV.
229
THE BOSTONIANS.

absorbed me—there is no doubt about that. But it's a pity I wasn't with her to-day.' Ransom made no answer to this; he was incapable of telling Miss Tarrant that if she had been he would not have called upon her. It was not, indeed, that he was not incapable of hypocrisy, for when she had asked him if he had seen his cousin the night before, and he had replied that he hadn't seen her at all, and she had exclaimed with a candour which the next minute made her blush, 'Ah, you don't mean to say you haven't forgiven her!'—after this he put on a look of innocence sufficient to carry off the inquiry, 'Forgiven her for what?'

Verena coloured at the sound of her own words. 'Well, I could see how much she felt, that time at her house.'

'What did she feel?' Basil Ransom asked, with the natural provokingness of a man.

I know not whether Verena was provoked, but she answered with more spirit than sequence: 'Well, you know you did pour contempt on us, ever so much; I could see how it worked Olive up. Are you not going to see her at all?'

'Well, I shall think about that; I am here only for three or four days,' said Ransom, smiling as men smile when they are perfectly unsatisfactory.

It is very possible that Verena was provoked, inaccessible as she was, in a general way, to irritation; for she rejoined in a moment, with a little deliberate air: 'Well, perhaps it's as well you shouldn't go, if you haven't changed at all.'

'I haven't changed at all,' said the young man, smiling still, with his elbows on the arms of his chair, his shoulders pushed up a little, and his thin brown hands interlocked in front of him.

'Well, I have had visitors who were quite opposed!' Verena announced, as if such news could not possibly alarm her. Then she added, 'How then did you know I was out here?'

'Miss Birdseye told me.'

'Oh, I am so glad you went to see her!' the girl