Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/381

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it right away. He says it's only fair to you that he should give notice of his intentions. He wants to try and make me like him—so he says. He wants to see more of me, and he wants me to know him better.'

Olive lay back in her chair, with dilated eyes and parted lips. 'Verena Tarrant, what is there between you? what can I hold on to, what can I believe? Two hours, in Cambridge, before we went to New York?' The sense that Verena had been perfidious there—perfidious in her reticence—now began to roll over her. 'Mercy of heaven, how you did act!'

'Olive, it was to spare you.'

'To spare me? If you really wished to spare me he wouldn't be here now!'

Miss Chancellor flashed this out with a sudden violence, a spasm which threw Verena off and made her rise to her feet. For an instant the two young women stood confronted, and a person who had seen them at that moment might have taken them for enemies rather than friends. But any such opposition could last but a few seconds. Verena replied, with a tremor in her voice which was not that of passion, but of charity: 'Do you mean that I expected him, that I brought him? I never in my life was more surprised at anything than when I saw him there.'

'Hasn't he the delicacy of one of his own slave-drivers? Doesn't he know you loathe him?'

Verena looked at her friend with a degree of majesty which, with her, was rare. 'I don't loathe him—I only dislike his opinions.'

'Dislike! Oh, misery!' And Olive turned away to the open window, leaning her forehead against the lifted sash.

Verena hesitated, then went to her, passing her arm round her. 'Don't scold me! help me—help me!' she murmured.

Olive gave her a sidelong look; then, catching her up and facing her again—'Will you come away, now, by the next train?'

'Flee from him again, as I did in New York? No, no, Olive Chancellor, that's not the way,' Verena went on,