Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/306

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'No,' said Verena good-naturedly; 'but I confess I am curious.'

'Curious—how do you mean?'

'Well, to hear the other side.'

'Oh heaven!' Olive Chancellor murmured, turning her face upon her.

'You must remember I have never heard it.' And Verena smiled into her friend's wan gaze.

'Do you want to hear all the infamy that is in the world?'

'No, it isn't that; but the more he should talk the better chance he would give me. I guess I can meet him.'

'Life is too short. Leave him as he is.'

'Well,' Verena went on, 'there are many I haven't cared to move at all, whom I might have been more interested in than in him. But to make him give in just at two or three points—that I should like better than anything I have done.'

'You have no business to enter upon a contest that isn't equal; and it wouldn't be, with Mr. Ransom.'

'The inequality would be that I have right on my side.'

'What is that—for a man? For what was their brutality given them, but to make that up?'

'I don't think he's brutal; I should like to see,' said Verena gaily.

Olive's eyes lingered a little on her own; then they turned away, vaguely, blindly, out of the carriage-window, and Verena made the reflection that she looked strangely little like a person who was going to dine at Delmonico's. How terribly she worried about everything, and how tragical was her nature; how anxious, suspicious, exposed to subtle influences! In their long intimacy Verena had come to revere most of her friend's peculiarities; they were a proof of her depth and devotion, and were so bound up with what was noble in her that she was rarely provoked to criticise them separately. But at present, suddenly, Olive's earnestness began to appear as inharmonious with the scheme of the universe as if it had been a broken saw; and she was positively glad she had not told her about Basil Ransom's appearance in Monadnoc Place. If she