Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/34

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24
III.
THE BOSTONIANS.

He could not see, in the dimness of the carriage, that she had flushed quickly, and he did not know that she disliked to be reminded of certain things which, for her, were mitigations of the hard feminine lot. But the passionate quaver with which, a moment later, she answered him sufficiently assured him that he had touched her at a tender point.

'Do you make it a reproach to me that I happen to have a little money? The dearest wish of my heart is to do something with it for others—for the miserable.'

Basil Ransom might have greeted this last declaration with the sympathy it deserved, might have commended the noble aspirations of his kinswoman. But what struck him, rather, was the oddity of so sudden a sharpness of pitch in an intercourse which, an hour or two before, had begun in perfect amity, and he burst once more into an irrepressible laugh. This made his companion feel, with intensity, how little she was joking. 'I don't know why I should care what you think,' she said.

'Don't care—don't care. What does it matter? It is not of the slightest importance.'

He might say that, but it was not true; she felt that there were reasons why she should care. She had brought him into her life, and she should have to pay for it. But she wished to know the worst at once. 'Are you against our emancipation?' she asked, turning a white face on him in the momentary radiance of a street-lamp.

'Do you mean your voting and preaching and all that sort of thing?' He made this inquiry, but seeing how seriously she would take his answer, he was almost frightened, and hung fire. 'I will tell you when I have heard Mrs. Farrinder.'

They had arrived at the address given by Miss Chancellor to the coachman, and their vehicle stopped with a lurch. Basil Ransom got out; he stood at the door with an extended hand, to assist the young lady. But she seemed to hesitate; she sat there with her spectral face. 'You hate it!' she exclaimed, in a low tone.

'Miss Birdseye will convert me,' said Ransom, with intention; for he had grown very curious, and he was afraid