Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/91

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XI.
81
THE BOSTONIANS.

Verena gave a laugh of clear amusement, without a shade of embarrassment or confusion. 'Perhaps you like me too much.'

'Of course I like you too much! When I like, I like too much. But of course it's another thing, your liking me,' Olive Chancellor added. 'We must wait—we must wait. When I care for anything, I can be patient.' She put out her hand to Verena, and the movement was at once so appealing and so confident that the girl instinctively placed her own in it. So, hand in hand, for some moments, these two young women sat looking at each other. 'There is so much I want to ask you,' said Olive.

'Well, I can't say much except when father has worked on me,' Verena answered, with an ingenuousness beside which humility would have seemed pretentious.

'I don't care anything about your father,' Olive Chancellor rejoined very gravely, with a great air of security.

'He is very good,' Verena said simply. 'And he's wonderfully magnetic.'

'It isn't your father, and it isn't your mother; I don't think of them, and it's not them I want. It's only you—just as you are.'

Verena dropped her eyes over the front of her dress. 'Just as she was' seemed to her indeed very well.

'Do you want me to give up———?' she demanded, smiling.

Olive Chancellor drew in her breath for an instant, like a creature in pain; then, with her quavering voice, touched with a vibration of anguish, she said: 'Oh, how can I ask you to give up? I will give up—I will give up everything!'

Filled with the impression of her hostess's agreeable interior, and of what her mother had told her about Miss Chancellor's wealth, her position in Boston society, Verena, in her fresh, diverted scrutiny of the surrounding objects, wondered what could be the need of this scheme of renunciation. Oh no, indeed, she hoped she wouldn't give up—at least not before she, Verena, had had a chance to see. She felt, however, that for the present there would be no answer for her save in the mere pressure of Miss Chancellor's eager nature, that intensity of emotion which made