Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/246

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XXV.
THE BOSTONIANS.

'What do you care about the work it accomplished?' said the girl. 'You don't take any interest in that.'

'You mistake my attitude. I don't like it, but I greatly fear it.'

In answer to this Verena gave a free laugh. 'I don't believe you fear much!'

'The bravest men have been afraid of women. Won't you even tell me whether you enjoyed it? I am told you made an immense sensation there—that you leaped into fame.'

Verena never waved off an allusion to her ability, her eloquence; she took it seriously, without any flutter or protest, and had no more manner about it than if it concerned the goddess Minerva. 'I believe I attracted considerable attention; of course, that's what Olive wants—it paves the way for future work. I have no doubt I reached many that wouldn't have been reached otherwise. They think that's my great use—to take hold of the outsiders, as it were; of those who are prejudiced or thoughtless, or who don't care about anything unless it's amusing. I wake up the attention.'

'That's the class to which I belong,' Ransom said. 'Am I not an outsider? I wonder whether you would have reached me—or waked up my attention!'

Verena was silent awhile, as they walked; he heard the light click of her boots on the smooth bricks. Then—'I think I have waked it up a little,' she replied, looking straight before her.

'Most assuredly! You have made me wish tremendously to contradict you.'

'Well, that's a good sign.'

'I suppose it was very exciting—your convention,' Ransom went on, in a moment; 'the sort of thing you would miss very much if you were to return to the ancient fold.'

'The ancient fold, you say very well, where women were slaughtered like sheep! Oh, last June, for a week, we just quivered! There were delegates from every State and every city; we lived in a crowd of people and of ideas; the heat was intense, the weather magnificent, and great