Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/431

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Tarrant's opinions, but her character—well, her character pleases me.'

Mrs. Luna stared, as if she were waiting, the explanation surely not being complete. 'But as much as that?' she inquired.

'As much as what?' said Ransom, smiling. Then he added, 'Your sister has beaten me.'

'I thought she had beaten some one of late; she has seemed so gay and happy. I didn't suppose it was all because I was going away.'

'Has she seemed very gay?' Ransom inquired, with a sinking of the heart. He wore such a long face, as he asked this question, that Mrs. Luna was again moved to audible mirth, after which she explained:

'Of course I mean gay for her. Everything is relative. With her impatience for this lecture of her friend's to-night, she's in an unspeakable state! She can't sit still for three minutes, she goes out fifteen times a day, and there has been enough arranging and interviewing, and discussing and telegraphing and advertising, enough wire-pulling and rushing about, to put an army in the field. What is it they are always doing to the armies in Europe?—mobilising them? Well, Verena has been mobilised, and this has been headquarters.'

'And shall you go to the Music Hall to-night?'

'For what do you take me? I have no desire to be shrieked at for an hour.'

' No doubt, no doubt, Miss Olive must be in a state,' Ransom went on, rather absently. Then he said, with abruptness, in a different tone: 'If this house has been, as you say, headquarters, how comes it you haven't seen her?'

'Seen Olive? I have seen nothing else!'

'I mean Miss Tarrant. She must be somewhere—in the place—if she's to speak to-night.'

'Should you like me to go out and look for her? Il ne manquerait plus que cela!' cried Mrs. Luna. 'What's the matter with you, Basil Ransom, and what are you after?' she demanded, with considerable sharpness. She had tried haughtiness and she had tried humility, but they brought her equally face to face with a competitor whom she couldn't