Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/57

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VI.
47
THE BOSTONIANS.

'Well, if you mean she sings, it's a shame I haven't got a piano,' Miss Birdseye took upon herself to respond. It came back to her that the girl had a gift.

'She doesn't want a piano—she doesn't want anything,' Selah remarked, giving no apparent attention to his wife. It was a part of his attitude in life never to appear to be indebted to another person for a suggestion, never to be surprised or unprepared.

'Well, I don't know that the interest in singing is so general,' said Miss Birdseye, quite unconscious of any slackness in preparing a substitute for the entertainment that had failed her.

'It isn't singing, you'll see,' Mrs. Tarrant declared.

'What is it, then?'

Mr. Tarrant unfurled his wrinkles, showed his back teeth. 'It's inspirational.'

Miss Birdseye gave a small, vague, unsceptical laugh. 'Well, if you can guarantee that———'

'I think it would be acceptable,' said Mrs. Tarrant; and putting up a half-gloved, familiar hand, she drew Miss Birdseye down to her, and the pair explained in alternation what it was their child could do.

Meanwhile, Basil Ransom confessed to Doctor Prance that he was, after all, rather disappointed. He had expected more of a programme; he wanted to hear some of the new truths. Mrs. Farrinder, as he said, remained within her tent, and he had hoped not only to see these distinguished people but also to listen to them.

'Well, I ain't disappointed,' the sturdy little doctress replied. 'If any question had been opened, I suppose I should have had to stay.'

'But I presume you don't propose to retire.'

'Well, I've got to pursue my studies some time. I don't want the gentlemen-doctors to get ahead of me.'

'Oh, no one will ever get ahead of you, I'm very sure. And there is that pretty young lady going over to speak to Mrs. Farrinder. She's going to beg her for a speech—Mrs. Farrinder can't resist that.'

'Well, then, I'll just trickle out before she begins. Good-night, sir,' said Doctor Prance, who by this time had