Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/314

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XXXII.
THE BOSTONIANS.

received for an address. The request that hung fire had reference to Verena too, of course; and Olive needed no prompting to feel that her friend's being a young person who took money could not make Mrs. Burrage's present effort more agreeable. To this taking of money (for when it came to Verena it was as if it came to her as well), she herself was now completely inured; money was a tremendous force, and when one wanted to assault the wrong with every engine one was happy not to lack the sinews of war. She liked her hostess better this morning than she had liked her before; she had more than ever the air of taking all sorts of sentiments and views for granted between them; which could only be flattering to Olive so long as it was really Mrs. Burrage who made each advance, while her visitor sat watchful and motionless. She had a light, clever, familiar way of traversing an immense distance with a very few words, as when she remarked, 'Well then, it is settled that she will come, and will stay till she is tired.'

Nothing of the kind had been settled, but Olive helped Mrs. Burrage (this time) more than she knew by saying, 'Why do you want her to visit you, Mrs. Burrage? why do you want her socially? Are you not aware that your son, a year ago, desired to marry her?'

'My dear Miss Chancellor, that is just what I wish to talk to you about. I am aware of everything; I don't believe you ever met any one who is aware of more things than I.' And Olive had to believe this, as Mrs. Burrage held up, smiling, her intelligent, proud, good-natured, successful head. 'I knew a year ago that my son was in love with your friend, I know that he has been so ever since, and that in consequence he would like to marry her to-day. I daresay you don't like the idea of her marrying at all; it would break up a friendship which is so full of interest' (Olive wondered for a moment whether she had been going to say 'so full of profit'), 'for you. This is why I hesitated; but since you are willing to talk about it, that is just what I want.'

'I don't see what good it will do,' Olive said.

'How can we tell till we try? I never give a thing up till I have turned it over in every sense.'