Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/76

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66
IX.
THE BOSTONIANS.

Tarrant is of the best New England stock—what I call the best!'

'I'm sure from what I have seen of the Boston ladies, no manifestation of grace can excite my surprise,' Ransom rejoined, looking, with his smile, at his cousin.

'She has been powerfully affected,' Mrs. Farrinder explained, very slightly dropping her voice, as Olive, apparently, still remained deaf.

Miss Birdseye drew near at this moment; she wanted to know if Mrs. Farrinder didn't want to express some acknowledgment, on the part of the company at large, for the real stimulus Miss Tarrant had given them. Mrs. Farrinder said: Oh yes, she would speak now with pleasure; only she must have a glass of water first. Miss Birdseye replied that there was some coming in a moment; one of the ladies had asked for it, and Mr. Pardon had just stepped down to draw some. Basil took advantage of this intermission to ask Miss Birdseye if she would give him the great privilege of an introduction to Miss Verena. 'Mrs. Farrinder will thank her for the company,' he said, laughing, 'but she won't thank her for me.'

Miss Birdseye manifested the greatest disposition to oblige him; she was so glad he had been impressed. She was proceeding to lead him toward Miss Tarrant when Olive Chancellor rose abruptly from her chair and laid her hand, with an arresting movement, on the arm of her hostess. She explained to her that she must go, that she was not very well, that her carriage was there; also that she hoped Miss Birdseye, if it was not asking too much, would accompany her to the door.

'Well, you are impressed too,' said Miss Birdseye, looking at her philosophically. 'It seems as if no one had escaped.'

Ransom was disappointed; he saw he was going to be taken away, and, before he could suppress it, an exclamation burst from his lips—the first exclamation he could think of that would perhaps check his cousin's retreat: 'Ah, Miss Olive, are you going to give up Mrs. Farrinder?'

At this Miss Olive looked at him, showed him an extraordinary face, a face he scarcely understood or even