Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/323

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XXXII.
313
THE BOSTONIANS.

take no interest whatever in your son—in his settling in life.' And she gathered her mantle more closely about her, turning away.

'It is exceedingly kind of you to have come,' said Mrs. Burrage, imperturbably. 'Think of what I have said; I am sure you won't feel that you have wasted your hour.'

'I have a great many things to think of!' Olive exclaimed, insincerely; for she knew that Mrs. Burrage's ideas would haunt her.

'And tell her that if she will make us the little visit, all New York shall sit at her feet!'

That was what Olive wanted, and yet it seemed a mockery to hear Mrs. Burrage say it. Miss Chancellor retreated, making no response even when her hostess declared again that she was under great obligations to her for coming. When she reached the street she found she was deeply agitated, but not with a sense of weakness; she hurried along, excited and dismayed, feeling that her insufferable conscience was bristling like some irritated animal, that a magnificent offer had really been made to Verena, and that there was no way for her to persuade herself she might be silent about it. Of course, if Verena should be tempted by the idea of being made so much of by the Burrages, the danger of Basil Ransom getting any kind of hold on her would cease to be pressing. That was what was present to Olive as she walked along, and that was what made her nervous, conscious only of this problem that had suddenly turned the bright day to grayness, heedless of the sophisticated-looking people who passed her on the wide Fifth Avenue pavement. It had risen in her mind the day before, planted first by Mrs. Burrage's note; and then, as we know, she had vaguely entertained the conception, asking Verena whether she would make the visit if it were again to be pressed upon them. It had been pressed, certainly, and the terms of the problem were now so much sharper that they seemed cruel. What had been in her own mind was that if Verena should appear to lend herself to the Burrages Basil Ransom might be discouraged—might think that, shabby and poor, there was no chance for him as against people with every advantage of fortune and