Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/350

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340
XXXIV.
THE BOSTONIANS.

him to put her into a car, she replied that she wished no car; she wanted to walk. This image of her 'streaking off' by herself, as he figured it, did not mend the matter; but in the presence of her sudden nervous impatience he felt that here was a feminine mystery which must be allowed to take its course.

'It costs me more than you probably suspect, but I submit. Heaven guard you and bless you, Miss Tarrant!'

She turned her face away from him as if she were straining at a leash; then she rejoined, in the most unexpected manner: 'I hope very much you will get printed.'

'Get my articles published?' He stared, and broke out: 'Oh, you delightful being!'

'Good-bye,' she repeated; and now she gave him her hand. As he held it a moment, and asked her if she were really leaving the city so soon that she mightn't see him again, she answered: 'If I stay it will be at a place to which you mustn't come. They wouldn't let you see me.'

He had not intended to put that question to her; he had set himself a limit. But the limit had suddenly moved on. 'Do you mean at that house where I heard you speak?'

'I may go there for a few days.'

'If it's forbidden to me to go and see you there, why did you send me a card?'

'Because I wanted to convert you then.'

'And now you give me up?'

'No, no; I want you to remain as you are!'

She looked strange, with her more mechanical smile, as she said this, and he didn't know what idea was in her head. She had already left him, but he called after her, 'If you do stay, I will come!' She neither turned nor made an answer, and all that was left to him was to watch her till she passed out of sight. Her back, with its charming young form, seemed to repeat that last puzzle, which was almost a challenge.

For this, however, Verena Tarrant had not meant it. She wanted, in spite of the greater delay and the way Olive would wonder, to walk home, because it gave her time to think, and think again, how glad she was (really, positively,