Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/242

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XXIV.
THE BOSTONIANS.

been down here by this time. I suppose you think she has missed me, since I have been so absorbed. Well, so she has, but she knows it's for my good. She would make any sacrifice for affection.'

The fancy suddenly struck Ransom of asking, in response to this, 'And you? would you make any?'

Verena gave him a bright natural stare. 'Any sacrifice for affection?' She thought a moment, and then she said: 'I don't think I have a right to say, because I have never been asked. I don't remember ever to have had to make a sacrifice—not an important one.'

'Lord! you must have had a happy life!'

'I have been very fortunate, I know that. I don't know what to do when I think how some women—how most women—suffer. But I must not speak of that,' she went on, with her smile coming back to her. 'If you oppose our movement, you won't want to hear of the suffering of women!'

'The suffering of women is the suffering of all humanity,' Ransom returned. 'Do you think any movement is going to stop that—or all the lectures from now to doomsday? We are born to suffer—and to bear it, like decent people.'

'Oh, I adore heroism!' Verena interposed.

'And as for women,' Ransom went on, 'they have one source of happiness that is closed to us—the consciousness that their presence here below lifts half the load of our suffering.'

Verena thought this very graceful, but she was not sure it was not rather sophistical; she would have liked to have Olive's judgment upon it. As that was not possible for the present, she abandoned the question (since learning that Mr. Ransom had passed over Olive, to come to her, she had become rather fidgety), and inquired of the young man, irrelevantly, whether he knew any one else in Cambridge.

'Not a creature; as I tell you, I have never been here before. Your image alone attracted me; this charming interview will be henceforth my only association with the place.'

'It's a pity you couldn't have a few more,' said Verena, musingly.