Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/266

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XXVII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

loves you. Mr. Ransom, you are very deep.' She had drawn him well into the room, out of earshot of the group in the doorway, and he felt that if she should be able to compass her wish she would organise a little entertainment for herself, in the outer drawing-room, in opposition to Miss Tarrant's address. 'Please come and sit down here a moment; we shall be quite undisturbed. I have something very particular to say to you.' She led the way to the little sofa in the corner, where he had been talking with Olive a few minutes before, and he accompanied her, with extreme reluctance, grudging the moments that he should be obliged to give to her. He had quite forgotten that he once had a vision of spending his life in her society, and he looked at his watch as he made the observation:

'I haven't the least idea of losing any of the sport in there, you know.'

He felt, the next instant, that he oughtn't to have said that either; but he was irritated, disconcerted, and he couldn't help it. It was in the nature of a gallant Mississippian to do everything a lady asked him, and he had never, remarkable as it may appear, been in the position of finding such a request so incompatible with his own desires as now. It was a new predicament, for Mrs. Luna evidently meant to keep him if she could. She looked round the room, more and more pleased at their having it to themselves, and for the moment said nothing more about the singularity of his being there. On the contrary, she became freshly jocular, remarked that now they had got hold of him they wouldn't easily let him go, they would make him entertain them, induce him to give a lecture—on the 'Lights and Shadows of Southern Life,' or the 'Social Peculiarities of Mississippi'—before the Wednesday Club.

'And what in the world is the Wednesday Club? I suppose it's what those ladies were talking about,' Ransom said.

'I don't know your ladies, but the Wednesday Club is this thing. I don't mean you and me here together, but all those deluded beings in the other room. It is New York trying to be like Boston. It is the culture, the good form, of the metropolis. You might not think it, but it is. It's the 'quiet set'; they are quiet enough; you might