Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/251

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XXV.
241
THE BOSTONIANS.

and there was a moment during which he was afraid that his companion would expose him to her as one of its traducers; but there was that in Miss Catching's manner (and in the influence of the lofty halls), which deprecated loud pleasantry, and seemed to say, moreover, that if she were treated to such a revelation she should not know under what letter to range it.

'Now there is one place where perhaps it would be indelicate to take a Mississippian,' Verena said, after this episode. 'I mean the great place that towers above the others—that big building with the beautiful pinnacles, which you see from every point.' But Basil Ransom had heard of the great Memorial Hall; he knew what memories it enshrined, and the worst that he should have to suffer there; and the ornate, overtopping structure, which was the finest piece of architecture he had ever seen, had moreover solicited his enlarged curiosity for the last half-hour. He thought there was rather too much brick about it, but it was buttressed, cloistered, turreted, dedicated, superscribed, as he had never seen anything; though it didn't look old, it looked significant; it covered a large area, and it sprang majestic into the winter air. It was detached from the rest of the collegiate group, and stood in a grassy triangle of its own. As he approached it with Verena she suddenly stopped, to decline responsibility. 'Now mind, if you don't like what's inside, it isn't my fault.'

He looked at her an instant, smiling. 'Is there anything against Mississippi?'

'Well, no, I don't think she is mentioned. But there is great praise of our young men in the war.'

'It says they were brave, I suppose.'

'Yes, it says so in Latin.'

'Well, so they were—I know something about that,' Basil Ransom said. 'I must be brave enough to face them—it isn't the first time.' And they went up the low steps and passed into the tall doors. The Memorial Hall of Harvard consists of three main divisions: one of them a theatre, for academic ceremonies; another a vast refectory, covered with a timbered roof, hung about with portraits and lighted by stained windows, like the halls of the colleges of