Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/96

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86
XI.
THE BOSTONIANS.

'You will, you will, we both will!' Olive Chancellor cried, in rapture. But after a little she went on: 'I wonder if you know what it means, young and lovely as you are—giving your life!'

Verena looked down for a moment in meditation.

'Well,' she replied, 'I guess I have thought more than I appear.'

'Do you understand German? Do you know "Faust"?' said Olive. '"Entsagen sollst du, sollst entsagen!"'

'I don't know German; I should like so to study it; I want to know everything.'

'We will work at it together—we will study everything,' Olive almost panted; and while she spoke the peaceful picture hung before her of still winter evenings under the lamp, with falling snow outside, and tea on a little table, and successful renderings, with a chosen companion, of Goethe, almost the only foreign author she cared about; for she hated the writing of the French, in spite of the importance they have given to women. Such a vision as this was the highest indulgence she could offer herself; she had it only at considerable intervals. It seemed as if Verena caught a glimpse of it too, for her face kindled still more, and she said she should like that ever so much. At the same time she asked the meaning of the German words.

'"Thou shalt renounce, refrain, abstain!" That's the way Bayard Taylor has translated them,' Olive answered.

'Oh, well, I guess I can abstain!' Verena exclaimed, with a laugh. And she got up rather quickly, as if by taking leave she might give a proof of what she meant. Olive put out her hands to hold her, and at this moment one of the portières of the room was pushed aside, while a gentleman was ushered in by Miss Chancellor's little parlour-maid.