Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/331

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XXXIII.
321
THE BOSTONIANS.

som stood looking at her with his extraordinary eyes. 'Of course, I haven't a vehicle to drive you in; but we can sit on a bench and talk.' She didn't say it was Mr. Burrage, but she was unable to say it was not, and something in her face showed him that he had guessed. So he went on: 'Is it only with him you can go out? Won't he like it, and may you only do what he likes? Mrs. Luna told me he wants to marry you, and I saw at his mother's how he stuck to you. If you are going to marry him, you can drive with him every day in the year, and that's just a reason for your giving me an hour or two now, before it becomes impossible.' He didn't mind much what he said—it had been his plan not to mind much to-day—and so long as he made her do what he wanted he didn't care much how he did it. But he saw that his words brought the colour to her face; she stared, surprised at his freedom and familiarity. He went on, dropping the hardness, the irony of which he was conscious, out of his tone. 'I know it's no business of mine whom you marry, or even whom you drive with, and I beg your pardon if I seem indiscreet and obtrusive; but I would give anything just to detach you a little from your ties, your belongings, and feel for an hour or two, as if—as if———' And he paused.

'As if what?' she asked, very seriously.

'As if there were no such person as Mr. Burrage—as Miss Chancellor—in the whole place.' This had not been what he was going to say; he used different words.

'I don't know what you mean, why you speak of other persons. I can do as I like, perfectly. But I don't know why you should take so for granted that that would be it!' Verena spoke these words not out of coquetry, or to make him beg her more for a favour, but because she was thinking, and she wanted to gain a moment. His allusion to Henry Burrage touched her, his belief that she had been in the Park under circumstances more agreeable than those he proposed. They were not; somehow, she wanted him to know that. To wander there with a companion, slowly stopping, lounging, looking at the animals as she had seen the people do the day before; to sit down in some out-of-the-way part where there were distant views, which she had