Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/453

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XLII.
443
THE BOSTONIANS.

tions and oaths, and brandishing before the culprits—Verena and Ransom—the extreme penalty of the law. Mrs. Tarrant had burst into violent hysterics, while Selah revolved vaguely about the room and declared that it seemed as if the better day was going to be put off for quite a while. 'Don't you see how good, how sweet they are—giving us all this time? Don't you think that when they behave like that without a sound, for five minutes they ought to be rewarded?' Verena asked, smiling divinely, at Ransom. Nothing could have been more tender, more exquisite, than the way she put her appeal upon the ground of simple charity, kindness to the great good-natured, childish public.

'Miss Chancellor may reward them in any way she likes. Give them back their money and a little present to each.'

'Money and presents? I should like to shoot you, sir!' yelled Mr. Filer. The audience had really been very patient, and up to this point deserved Verena's praise; but it was now long past eight o'clock, and symptoms of irritation—cries and groans and hisses—began again to proceed from the hall. Mr. Filer launched himself into the passage leading to the stage, and Selah rushed after him. Mrs. Tarrant extended herself, sobbing, on the sofa, and Olive, quivering in the storm, inquired of Ransom what he wanted her to do, what humiliation, what degradation, what sacrifice he imposed.

'I'll do anything—I'll be abject—I'll be vile—I'll go down in the dust!'

'I ask nothing of you, and I have nothing to do with you,' Ransom said. 'That is, I ask, at the most, that you shouldn't expect that, wishing to make Verena my wife, I should say to her, "Oh yes, you can take an hour or two out of it!" Verena,' he went on, 'all this is out of it—dreadfully, odiously—and it's a great deal too much! Come, come as far away from here as possible, and we'll settle the rest!'

The combined effort of Mr. Filer and Selah Tarrant to pacify the public had not, apparently, the success it deserved; the house continued in uproar and the volume of sound increased. 'Leave us alone, leave us alone for a