Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/280

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XXVIII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

agree with you,' Ransom said, looking askance at young Mr. Burrage, who had detached himself and was getting something for Verena to eat.

'Ah, well, if you are so indifferent!'

'It's not because I'm indifferent!' His eyes came back to her own, the expression of which had changed before they quitted them. She began to complain to her companion, who brought her something very dainty on a plate, that Mr. Ransom was 'standing out,' that he was about the hardest subject she had encountered yet. Henry Burrage smiled upon Ransom in a way that was meant to show he remembered having already spoken to him, while the Mississippian said to himself that there was nothing on the face of it to make it strange there should be between these fair, successful young persons some such question of love or marriage as Mrs. Luna had tattled about. Mr. Burrage was successful, he could see that in the turn of an eye; not perhaps as having a commanding intellect or a very strong character, but as being rich, polite, handsome, happy, amiable, and as wearing a splendid camellia in his buttonhole. And that he, at any rate, thought Verena had succeeded was proved by the casual, civil tone, and the contented distraction of eye, with which he exclaimed, 'You don't mean to say you were not moved by that! It's my opinion that Miss Tarrant will carry everything before her.' He was so pleased himself, and so safe in his conviction, that it didn't matter to him what any one else thought; which was, after all, just Basil Ransom's own state of mind.

'Oh! I didn't say I wasn't moved,' the Mississippian remarked.

'Moved the wrong way!' said Verena. 'Never mind; you'll be left behind.'

'If I am, you will come back to console me.'

'Back? I shall never come back!' the girl replied, gaily.

'You'll be the very first!' Ransom went on, feeling himself now, and as if by a sudden clearing up of his spiritual atmosphere, no longer in the vein for making the concessions of chivalry, and yet conscious that his words were an expression of homage.