Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/284

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'Delighted you liked it. I didn't know what in the world to have, and this has proved an inspiration—for me as well as for Miss Tarrant. Miss Chancellor has been telling me how they have worked together; it's really quite beautiful. Miss Chancellor is Miss Tarrant's great friend and colleague. Miss Tarrant assures me that she couldn't do anything without her.' After which explanation, turning to Olive, Mrs. Burrage murmured: 'Let me introduce Mr. ——— introduce Mr. ———'

But she had forgotten poor Ransom's name, forgotten who had asked her for a card for him; and, perceiving it, he came to her rescue with the observation that he was a kind of cousin of Miss Olive's, if she didn't repudiate him, and that he knew what a tremendous partnership existed between the two young ladies. 'When I applauded I was applauding the firm—that is, you too,' he said, smiling, to his kinswoman.

'Your applause? I confess I don't understand it,' Olive replied, with much promptitude.

'Well, to tell the truth, I didn't myself!'

'Oh yes, of course I know; that's why—that's why———' And this further speech of Mrs. Burrage's, in reference to the relationship between the young man and her companion, faded also into vagueness. She had been on the point of saying it was the reason why he was in her house; but she had bethought herself in time that this ought to pass as a matter of course. Basil Ransom could see she was a woman who could carry off an awkwardness like that, and he considered her with a sense of her importance. She had a brisk, familiar, slightly impatient way, and if she had not spoken so fast, and had more of the softness of the Southern matron, she would have reminded him of a certain type of woman he had seen of old, before the changes in his own part of the world—the clever, capable, hospitable proprietress, widowed or unmarried, of a big plantation carried on by herself. 'If you are her cousin, do take Miss Chancellor to have some supper—instead of going away,' she went on, with her infelicitous readiness.

At this Olive instantly seated herself again.