Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/361

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XXXV.
351
THE BOSTONIANS.

'Yes, I guess I can tell it in the dark. I will show you round now, if you like.'

'I shall be glad to see it, though I am not sure I shall go in immediately. I must reconnoitre a little first. That makes me so very happy to have met you. I think it's very wonderful—your knowing me.'

Doctor Prance did not repudiate this compliment, but she presently observed: 'You didn't pass out of my mind entirely, because I have heard about you since, from Miss Birdseye.'

'Ah yes, I saw her in the spring. I hope she is in health and happiness.'

'She is always in happiness, but she can't be said to be in health. She is very weak; she is failing.'

'I am very sorry for that.'

'She is also visiting Miss Chancellor,' Doctor Prance observed, after a pause which was an illustration of an appearance she had of thinking that certain things didn't at all imply some others.

'Why, my cousin has got all the distinguished women!' Basil Ransom exclaimed.

'Is Miss Chancellor your cousin? There isn't much family resemblance. Miss Birdseye came down for the benefit of the country air, and I came down to see if I could help her to get some good from it. She wouldn't much, if she were left to herself. Miss Birdseye has a very fine character, but she hasn't much idea of hygiene.' Doctor Prance was evidently more and more disposed to be chatty. Ransom appreciated this fact, and said he hoped she, too, was getting some good from the country-air—he was afraid she was very much confined to her profession, in Boston; to which she replied—'Well, I was just taking a little exercise along the road. I presume you don't realise what it is to be one of four ladies grouped together in a small frame-house.'

Ransom remembered how he had liked her before, and he felt that, as the phrase was, he was going to like her again. He wanted to express his good-will to her, and would greatly have enjoyed being at liberty to offer her a cigar. He didn't know what to offer her or what to do,