Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/413

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idea she was fighting, but if she should fight no harder than she had fought up to now he should continue to take the same view of his success. She meant her request that he should go away for a few days as something combative; but, decidedly, he scarcely felt the blow. He liked to think that he had great tact with women, and he was sure Verena would be struck with this quality in reading, in the note he presently addressed her in reply to her own, that he had determined to take a little run to Provincetown. As there was no one under the rather ineffectual roof which sheltered him to whose hand he could intrust the billet—at the Marmion hotel one had to be one's own messenger—he walked to the village post-office to request that his note should be put into Miss Chancellor's box. Here he met Doctor Prance, for a second time that day; she had come to deposit the letters by which Olive notified a few of Miss Birdseye's friends of the time and place of her obsequies. This young lady was shut up with Verena, and Doctor Prance was transacting all their business for them. Ransom felt that he made no admission that would impugn his estimate of the sex to which she in a manner belonged, in reflecting that she would acquit herself of these delegated duties with the greatest rapidity and accuracy. He told her he was going to absent himself for a few days, and expressed a friendly hope that he should find her at Marmion on his return.

Her keen eye gauged him a moment, to see if he were joking; then she said, 'Well, I presume you think I can do as I like. But I can't.'

'You mean you have got to go back to work?'

'Well, yes; my place is empty in the city.'

'So is every other place. You had better remain till the end of the season.'

'It's all one season to me. I want to see my office-slate. I wouldn't have stayed so long for any one but her.'

'Well, then, goodbye,' Ransom said. 'I shall always remember our little expeditions. And I wish you every professional distinction.'

'That's why I want to go back,' Doctor Prance replied, with her flat, limited manner. He kept her a moment; he