Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/430

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420
XL.
THE BOSTONIANS.

perhaps be well for Mrs. Luna still to hold on. Basil's induction was very rapid, but it gave him time to decide that the best thing to say to his interlocutress was: 'On what day do you sail for Europe?'

'Perhaps I shall not sail at all,' Mrs. Luna replied, looking out of the window.

'And in that case—poor Newton's education?'

'I should try to content myself with a country which has given you yours.'

'Don't you want him, then, to be a man of the world?'

'Ah, the world, the world!' she murmured, while she watched, in the deepening dusk, the lights of the town begin to reflect themselves in the Back Bay. 'Has it been such a source of happiness to me that I belong to it?'

'Perhaps, after all, I shall be able to go to Florence!' said Ransom, laughing.

She faced him once more, this time slowly, and declared that she had never known anything so strange as his state of mind—she would be so glad to have an explanation of it. With the opinions he professed (it was for them she had liked him—she didn't like his character), why on earth should he be running after a little fifth-rate poseuse, and in such a frenzy to get hold of her? He might say it was none of her business, and of course she would have no answer to that; therefore she admitted that she asked simply out of intellectual curiosity, and because one always was tormented at the sight of a painful contradiction. With the things she had heard him say about his convictions and theories, his view of life and the great questions of the future, she should have thought he would find Miss Tarrant's attitudinising absolutely nauseous. Were not her views the same as Olive's, and hadn't Olive and he signally failed to hit it off together? Mrs. Luna only asked because she was really quite puzzled. 'Don't you know that some minds, when they see a mystery, can't rest till they clear it up?'

'You can't be more puzzled than I am,' said Ransom. 'Apparently the explanation is to be found in a sort of reversal of the formula you were so good, just now, as to apply to me. You like my opinions, but you entertain a different sentiment for my character. I deplore Miss