Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/63

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VII.
53
THE BOSTONIANS.

with a certain reserve, while, within the depth of her eminently public manner, she asked herself whether Miss Tarrant were a remarkable young woman or only a forward minx. She found a response which committed her to neither view; she only said, 'We want the young—of course we want the young!'

'Who is that charming creature?' Basil Ransom heard his cousin ask, in a grave, lowered tone, of Matthias Pardon, the young man who had brought Miss Tarrant forward. He didn't know whether Miss Chancellor knew him, or whether her curiosity had pushed her to boldness. Ransom was near the pair, and had the benefit of Mr. Pardon's answer.

'The daughter of Doctor Tarrant, the mesmeric healer—Miss Verena. She's a high-class speaker.'

'What do you mean?' Olive asked. 'Does she give public addresses?'

'Oh yes, she has had quite a career in the West. I heard her last spring at Topeka. They call it inspirational. I don't know what it is—only it's exquisite; so fresh and poetical. She has to have her father to start her up. It seems to pass into her.' And Mr. Pardon indulged in a gesture intended to signify the passage.

Olive Chancellor made no rejoinder save a low, impatient sigh; she transferred her attention to the girl, who now held Mrs. Farrinder's hand in both her own, and was pleading with her just to prelude a little. 'I want a starting-point—I want to know where I am,' she said. 'Just two or three of your grand old thoughts.'

Basil stepped nearer to his cousin; he remarked to her that Miss Verena was very pretty. She turned an instant, glanced at him, and then said, 'Do you think so?' An instant later she added, 'How you must hate this place!'

'Oh, not now, we are going to have some fun,' Ransom replied good-humouredly, if a trifle coarsely; and the declaration had a point, for Miss Birdseye at this moment reappeared, followed by the mesmeric healer and his wife.

'Ah, well, I see you are drawing her out,' said Miss Birdseye to Mrs. Farrinder; and at the idea that this process had been necessary Basil Ransom broke into a