Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/333

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'Of course I have something particular to say to you—I have a tremendous lot to say to you!' the young man exclaimed. 'Far more than I can say in this stuck-up, confined room, which is public, too, so that any one may come in from one moment to another. Besides,' he added, sophistically, 'it isn't proper for me to pay a visit of three hours.'

Verena did not take up the sophistry, nor ask him whether it would be more proper for her to ramble about the city with him for an equal period; she only said, 'Is it something that I shall care to hear, or that will do me any good?'

'Well, I hope it will do you good; but I don't suppose you will care much to hear it.' Basil Ransom hesitated a moment, smiling at her; then he went on: 'It's to tell you, once for all, how much I really do differ from you!' He said this at a venture, but it was a happy inspiration.

If it was only that, Verena thought she might go, for that was not personal. 'Well, I'm glad you care so much,' she answered, musingly. But she had another scruple still, and she expressed it in saying that she should like Olive very much to find her when she came in.

'That's all very well,' Ransom returned; 'but does she think that she only has a right to go out? Does she expect you to keep the house because she's abroad? If she stays out long enough, she will find you when she comes in.'

'Her going out that way—it proves that she trusts me,' Verena said, with a candour which alarmed her as soon as she had spoken.

Her alarm was just, for Basil Ransom instantly caught up her words, with a great mocking amazement. 'Trusts you? and why shouldn't she trust you? Are you a little girl of ten and she your governess? Haven't you any liberty at all, and is she always watching you and holding you to an account? Have you such vagabond instincts that you are only thought safe when you are between four walls?' Ransom was going on to speak, in the same tone, of her having felt it necessary to keep Olive in ignorance of his visit to Cambridge—a fact they had touched on, by