Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/31

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real seriousness. 'If, as you say, there is to be a discussion, there will be different sides, and of course one can't sympathise with both.'

'Yes, but every one will, in his way—or in her way—plead the cause of the new truths. If you don't care for them, you won't go with us.'

'I tell you I haven't the least idea what they are! I have never yet encountered in the world any but old truths—as old as the sun and moon. How can I know? But do take me; it's such a chance to see Boston.'

'It isn't Boston—it's humanity!' Miss Chancellor, as she made this remark, rose from her chair, and her movement seemed to say that she consented. But before she quitted her kinsman to get ready, she observed to him that she was sure he knew what she meant; he was only pretending he didn't.

'Well, perhaps, after all, I have a general idea,' he confessed; 'but don't you see how this little reunion will give me a chance to fix it?'

She lingered an instant, with her anxious face. 'Mrs. Farrinder will fix it!' she said; and she went to prepare herself.

It was in this poor young lady's nature to be anxious, to have scruple within scruple and to forecast the consequences of things. She returned in ten minutes, in her bonnet, which she had apparently assumed in recognition of Miss Birdseye's asceticism. As she stood there drawing on her gloves—her visitor had fortified himself against Mrs. Farrinder by another glass of wine—she declared to him that she quite repented of having proposed to him to go; something told her that he would be an unfavourable element.

'Why, is it going to be a spiritual séance?' Basil Ransom asked.

'Well, I have heard at Miss Birdseye's some inspirational speaking.' Olive Chancellor was determined to look him straight in the face as she said this; her sense of the way it might strike him operated as a cogent, not as a deterrent, reason.

'Why, Miss Olive, it's just got up on purpose for me!'