Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/432

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422
XL.
THE BOSTONIANS.

take seriously, yet who was none the less objectionable for that.

I know not whether Ransom would have attempted to answer her question had an obstacle not presented itself; at any rate, at the moment she spoke, the curtain in the doorway was pushed aside, and a visitor crossed the threshold. 'Mercy! how provoking!' Mrs, Luna exclaimed, audibly enough; and without moving from her place she bent an uncharitable eye upon the invader, a gentleman whom Ransom had the sense of having met before. He was a young man with a fresh face and abundant locks, prematurely white; he stood smiling at Mrs. Luna, quite undaunted by the absence of any demonstration in his favour. She looked as if she didn't know him, while Ransom prepared to depart, leaving them to settle it together.

'I'm afraid you don't remember me, though I have seen you before,' said the young man, very amiably. 'I was here a week ago, and Miss Chancellor presented me to you.'

'Oh yes; she's not at home now,' Mrs. Luna returned, vaguely.

'So I was told—but I didn't let that prevent me.' And the young man included Rasil Ransom in the smile with which he made himself more welcome than Mrs. Luna appeared disposed to make him, and by which he seemed to call attention to his superiority. 'There is a matter on which I want very much to obtain some information, and I have no doubt you will be so good as to give it to me.'

'It comes back to me—you have something to do with the newspapers,' said Mrs. Luna; and Ransom too, by this time, had placed the young man among his reminiscences. He had been at Miss Birdseye's famous party, and Doctor Prance had there described him as a brilliant journalist.

It was quite with the air of such a personage that he accepted Mrs. Luna's definition, and he continued to radiate towards Ransom (as if, in return, he remembered his face), while he dropped, confidentially, the word that expressed everything—'"The Vesper," don't you know?' Then he went on: 'Now, Mrs. Luna, I don't care, I'm