Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/51

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VI.
41
THE BOSTONIANS.

Miss Birdseye didn't know! She explained her young friends to each other, a trifle incoherently, perhaps, and then went to stir up Mrs. Farrinder.

Basil Ransom had already noticed Doctor Prance; he had not been at all bored, and had observed every one in the room, arriving at all sorts of ingenious inductions. The little medical lady struck him as a perfect example of the 'Yankee female'—the figure which, in the unregenerate imagination of the children of the cotton-States, was produced by the New England school-system, the Puritan code, the ungenial climate, the absence of chivalry. Spare, dry, hard, without a curve, an inflection or a grace, she seemed to ask no odds in the battle of life and to be prepared to give none. But Ransom could see that she was not an enthusiast, and after his contact with his cousin's enthusiasm this was rather a relief to him. She looked like a boy, and not even like a good boy. It was evident that if she had been a boy, she would have 'cut' school, to try private experiments in mechanics or to make researches in natural history. It was true that if she had been a boy she would have borne some relation to a girl, whereas Doctor Prance appeared to bear none whatever. Except her intelligent eye, she had no features to speak of. Ransom asked her if she were acquainted with the lioness, and on her staring at him, without response, explained that he meant the renowned Mrs. Farrinder.

'Well, I don't know as I ought to say that I'm acquainted with her; but I've heard her on the platform. I have paid my half-dollar,' the doctor added, with a certain grimness.

'Well, did she convince you?' Ransom inquired.

'Convince me of what, sir?'

'That women are so superior to men.'

'Oh, deary me!' said Doctor Prance, with a little impatient sigh; 'I guess I know more about women than she does.'

'And that isn't your opinion, I hope,' said Ransom, laughing.

'Men and women are all the same to me,' Doctor Prance remarked. 'I don't see any difference. There is