Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/341

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XXXIV.
331
THE BOSTONIANS.

had lasted a few seconds longer I know not what monstrous proceeding of this kind it would have been my difficult duty to describe; it was fortunately arrested by the arrival of a nursery-maid pushing a perambulator and accompanied by an infant who toddled in her wake. Both the nurse and her companion gazed fixedly, and it seemed to Ransom even sternly, at the striking couple on the bench; and meanwhile Verena, looking with a quickened eye at the children (she adored children), went on—

'It sounds too flat for you to talk about your remaining unheard of. Of course you are ambitious; any one can see that, to look at you. And once your ambition is excited in any particular direction, people had better look out. With your will!' she added, with a curious mocking candour.

'What do you know about my will?' he asked, laughing a little awkwardly, as if he had really attempted to kiss her—in the course of the second independent interview he had ever had with her—and been rebuffed.

'I know it's stronger than mine. It made me come out, when I thought I had much better not, and it keeps me sitting here long after I should have started for home.'

'Give me the day, dear Miss Tarrant, give me the day,' Basil Ransom murmured; and as she turned her face upon him, moved by the expression of his voice, he added—'Come and dine with me, since you wouldn't lunch. Are you really not faint and weak?'

'I am faint and weak at all the horrible things you have said; I have lunched on abominations. And now you want me to dine with you? Thank you; I think you're cool!' Verena cried, with a laugh which her chronicler knows to have been expressive of some embarrassment, though Basil Ransom did not.

'You must remember that I have, on two different occasions, listened to you for an hour, in speechless, submissive attention, and that I shall probably do it a great many times more.'

'Why should you ever listen to me again, when you loathe my ideas?'

'I don't listen to your ideas; I listen to your voice.'