Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/360

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For a minute there was no answer; then came the voice of the little lady:

'Yes, sir; I am Doctor Prance. Any one sick at the hotel?'

'I hope not; I don't know,' Ransom said, laughing.

Then he took a few steps, mentioned his name, recalled his having met her at Miss Birdseye's, ever so long before (nearly two years), and expressed the hope that she had not forgotten that.

She thought it over a little—she was evidently addicted neither to empty phrases nor to unconsidered assertions. 'I presume you mean that night Miss Tarrant launched out so.'

'That very night. We had a very interesting conversation.'

'Well, I remember I lost a good deal,' said Doctor Prance.

'Well, I don't know; I have an idea you made it up in other ways,' Ransom returned, laughing still.

He saw her bright little eyes engage with his own. Staying, apparently, in the village, she had come out, bareheaded, for an evening walk, and if it had been possible to imagine Doctor Prance bored and in want of recreation, the way she lingered there as if she were quite willing to have another talk might have suggested to Basil Ransom this condition. 'Why, don't you consider her career very remarkable?'

'Oh yes; everything is remarkable nowadays; we live in an age of wonders!' the young man replied, much amused to find himself discussing the object of his adoration in this casual way, in the dark, on a lonely country-road, with a short-haired female physician. It was astonishing how quickly Doctor Prance and he had made friends again. 'I suppose, by the way, you know Miss Tarrant and Miss Chancellor are staying down here?' he went on.

'Well, yes, I suppose I know it. I am visiting Miss Chancellor,' the dry little woman added.

'Oh indeed? I am delighted to hear it!' Ransom exclaimed, feeling that he might have a friend in the camp. 'Then you can inform me where those ladies have their house.'