Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/291

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XXIX.
281
THE BOSTONIANS.

renounce it because you can't. Olive kept these reflections to herself, but she went so far as to say to her sister that she didn't see where the 'pique' came in. How could it hurt Adeline that he should turn his attention to Verena? What was Verena to her?

'Why, Olive Chancellor, how can you ask?' Mrs. Luna boldly responded. 'Isn't Verena everything to you, and aren't you everything to me, and wouldn't an attempt—a successful one—to take Verena away from you knock you up fearfully, and shouldn't I suffer, as you know I suffer, by sympathy?'

I have said that it was Miss Chancellor's plan of life not to lie, but such a plan was compatible with a kind of consideration for the truth which led her to shrink from producing it on poor occasions. So she didn't say, 'Dear me, Adeline, what humbug! you know you hate Verena and would be very glad if she were drowned!' She only said, 'Well, I see; but it's very roundabout.' What she did see was that Mrs. Luna was eager to help her to stop off Basil Ransom from 'making head,' as the phrase was; and the fact that her motive was spite, and not tenderness for the Bostonians, would not make her assistance less welcome if the danger were real. She herself had a nervous dread, but she had that about everything; still, Adeline had perhaps seen something, and what in the world did she mean by her reference to Verena's having had secret meetings? When pressed on this point, Mrs. Luna could only say that she didn't pretend to give definite information, and she wasn't a spy anyway, but that the night before he had positively flaunted in her face his admiration for the girl, his enthusiasm for her way of standing up there. Of course he hated her ideas, but he was quite conceited enough to think she would give them up. Perhaps it was all directed at her—as if she cared! It would depend a good deal on the girl herself; certainly, if there was any likelihood of Verena's being affected, she should advise Olive to look out. She knew best what to do; it was only Adeline's duty to give her the benefit of her own impression, whether she was thanked for it or not. She only wished to put her on her guard, and it was just like Olive to receive such