Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/349

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XXXIV.
339
THE BOSTONIANS.

steamed, and absorbing and emitting passengers; and the beer- saloons, with exposed shoulders and sides, which in New York do a good deal towards representing the picturesque, the 'bit' appreciated by painters, announced themselves in signs of large lettering to the sky. Groups of the unemployed, the children of disappointment from beyond the seas, propped themselves against the low, sunny wall of the park; and on the other side the commercial vista of the Sixth Avenue stretched away with a remarkable absence of aerial perspective.

'I must go home; good-bye,' Verena said, abruptly, to her companion.

'Go home? You won't come and dine, then?'

Verena knew people who dined at midday and others who dined in the evening, and others still who never dined at all; but she knew no one who dined at half-past three. Ransom's attachment to this idea therefore struck her as queer and infelicitous, and she supposed it betrayed the habits of Mississippi. But that couldn't make it any more acceptable to her, in spite of his looking so disappointed—with his dimly-glowing eyes—that he was heedless for the moment that the main fact connected with her return to Tenth Street was that she wished to go alone.

'I must leave you, right away,' she said. 'Please don't ask me to stay; you wouldn't if you knew how little I want to!' Her manner was different now, and her face as well, and though she smiled more than ever she had never seemed to him more serious.

'Alone, do you mean? Really I can't let you do that,' Ransom replied, extremely shocked at this sacrifice being asked of him. 'I have brought you this immense distance, I am responsible for you, and I must place you where I found you.'

'Mr. Ransom, I must, I will!' she exclaimed, in a tone he had not yet heard her use; so that, a good deal amazed, puzzled and pained, he saw that he should make a mistake if he were to insist. He had known that their expedition must end in a separation which could not be sweet, but he had counted on making some of the terms of it himself. When he expressed the hope that she would at least allow