Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/450

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locked door. He closed it again, sharply, in the face of the reporter and the policeman, and at the same moment Selah Tarrant descended, through the aperture leading to the platform, from his brief communion with the public. On seeing Ransom he stopped short, and, gathering his waterproof about him, measured the young man from head to foot.

'Well, sir, perhaps you would like to go and explain our hitch,' he remarked, indulging in a smile so comprehensive that the corners of his mouth seemed almost to meet behind. 'I presume that you, better than any one else, can give them an insight into our difficulties!'

'Father, be still; father, it will come out all right in a moment!' cried Verena, below her breath, panting like an emergent diver.

'There's one thing I want to know: are we going to spend half an hour talking over our domestic affairs?' Mr. Filer demanded, wiping his indignant countenance. 'Is Miss Tarrant going to lecture, or ain't she going to lecture? If she ain't, she'll please to show cause why. Is she aware that every quarter of a second, at the present instant, is worth about five hundred dollars?'

'I know that—I know that, Mr. Filer; I will begin in a moment!' Verena went on. 'I only want to speak to Mr. Ransom—just three words. They are perfectly quiet—don't you see how quiet they are? They trust me, they trust me, don't they, father? I only want to speak to Mr. Ransom.'

'Who the devil is Mr. Ransom?' cried the exasperated, bewildered Filer.

Verena spoke to the others, but she looked at her lover, and the expression of her eyes was ineffably touching and beseeching. She trembled with nervous passion, there were sobs and supplications in her voice, and Ransom felt himself flushing with pure pity for her pain—her inevitable agony. But at the same moment he had another perception, which brushed aside remorse; he saw that he could do what he wanted, that she begged him, with all her being, to spare her, but that so long as he should protest she was submissive, helpless. What he wanted, in this light, flamed before