Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/301

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'I knew you wouldn't like it—because you don't like him.'

'I don't think of him,' said Olive; 'he's nothing to me.' Then she added, suddenly, 'Have you noticed that I am afraid to face what I don't like?'

Verena could not say that she had, and yet it was not just on Olive's part to speak as if she were an easy person to tell such a thing to: the way she lay there, white and weak, like a wounded creature, sufficiently proved the contrary. 'You have such a fearful power of suffering,' she replied in a moment.

To this at first Miss Chancellor made no rejoinder; but after a little she said, in the same attitude, 'Yes, you could make me.'

Verena took her hand and held it awhile. 'I never will, till I have been through everything myself.'

'You were not made to suffer—you were made to enjoy,' Olive said, in very much the same tone in which she had told her that what was the matter with her was that she didn't dislike men as a class—a tone which implied that the contrary would have been much more natural and perhaps rather higher. Perhaps it would; but Verena was unable to rebut the charge; she felt this, as she looked out of the window of the carriage at the bright, amusing city, where the elements seemed so numerous, the animation so immense, the shops so brilliant, the women so strikingly dressed, and knew that these things quickened her curiosity, all her pulses.

'Well, I suppose I mustn't presume on it,' she remarked, glancing back at Olive with her natural sweetness, her uncontradicting grace.

That young lady lifted her hand to her lips—held it there a moment; the movement seemed to say, 'When you are so divinely docile, how can I help the dread of losing you?' This idea, however, was unspoken, and Olive Chancellor's uttered words, as the carriage rolled on, were different.

'Verena, I don't understand why he wrote to you.'

'He wrote to me because he likes me. Perhaps you'll say you don't understand why he likes me,' the girl con-