Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/414

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XXXIX.
THE BOSTONIANS.

wanted to ask her about Verena. While he was hesitating how to form his question she remarked, evidently wishing to leave him a little memento of her sympathy, 'Well, I hope you will be able to follow up your views.'

'My views, Miss Prance? I am sure I have never mentioned them to you!' Then Ransom added, 'How is Miss Tarrant to-day? is she more calm?'

'Oh no, she isn't calm at all/ Doctor Prance answered, very definitely.

'Do you mean she's excited, emotional?'

'Well, she doesn't talk, she's perfectly still, and so is Miss Chancellor. They're as still as two watchers—they don't speak. But you can hear the silence vibrate.'

'Vibrate?'

'Well, they are very nervous.'

Ransom was confident, as I say, yet the effort that he made to extract a good omen from this characterisation of the two ladies at the cottage was not altogether successful. He would have liked to ask Doctor Prance whether she didn't think he might count on Verena in the end; but he was too shy for this, the subject of his relations with Miss Tarrant never yet having been touched upon between them; and, besides, he didn't care to hear himself put a question which was more or less an implication of a doubt. So he compromised, with a sort of oblique and general inquiry about Olive; that might draw some light. 'What do you think of Miss Chancellor—how does she strike you?'

Doctor Prance reflected a little, with an apparent consciousness that he meant more than he asked. 'Well, she's losing flesh,' she presently replied; and Ransom turned away, not encouraged, and feeling that, no doubt, the little doctress had better go back to her office-slate.

He did the thing handsomely, remained at Provincetown a week, inhaling the delicious air, smoking innumerable cigars, and lounging among the ancient wharves, where the grass grew thick and the impression of fallen greatness was still stronger than at Marmion. Like his friends the Bostonians he was very nervous; there were days when he felt that he must rush back to the margin of that mild inlet; the voices of the air whispered to him that in his