This idea of their triumph, a triumph as yet ultimate and remote, but precede_y the solemn vista of an effort so religious as never to be wanting i_cstasy, became tremendously familiar to the two friends, but especially t_live, during the winter of 187-, a season which ushered in the most momentou_eriod of Miss Chancellor's life. About Christmas a step was taken whic_dvanced her affairs immensely, and put them, to her apprehension, on _egular footing. This consisted in Verena's coming in to Charles Street t_tay with her, in pursuance of an arrangement on Olive's part with Sela_arrant and his wife that she should remain for many months. The coast was no_erfectly clear. Mrs. Farrinder had started on her annual grand tour; she wa_ousing the people, from Maine to Texas; Matthias Pardon (it was to b_upposed) had received, temporarily at least, his quietus; and Mrs. Luna wa_stablished in New York, where she had taken a house for a year, and whenc_he wrote to her sister that she was going to engage Basil Ransom (with who_he was in communication for this purpose) to do her law-business. Oliv_ondered what law-business Adeline could have, and hoped she would get into _ickle with her landlord or her milliner, so that repeated interviews with Mr.
Ransom might become necessary. Mrs. Luna let her know very soon that thes_nterviews had begun; the young Mississippian had come to dine with her; h_adn't got started much, by what she could make out, and she was even afrai_hat he didn't dine every day. But he wore a tall hat now, like a Norther_entleman, and Adeline intimated that she found him really attractive. He ha_een very nice to Newton, told him all about the war (quite the Souther_ersion, of course, but Mrs. Luna didn't care anything about America_olitics, and she wanted her son to know all sides), and Newton did nothin_ut talk about him, calling him "Rannie," and imitating his pronunciation o_ertain words. Adeline subsequently wrote that she had made up her mind to pu_er affairs into his hands (Olive sighed, not unmagnanimously, as she though_f her sister's "affairs"), and later still she mentioned that she wa_hinking strongly of taking him to be Newton's tutor. She wished thi_nteresting child to be privately educated, and it would be more agreeable t_ave in that relation a person who was already, as it were, a member of th_amily. Mrs. Luna wrote as if he were prepared to give up his profession t_ake charge of her son, and Olive was pretty sure that this was only a part o_er grandeur, of the habit she had contracted, especially since living i_urope, of speaking as if in every case she required special arrangements.
In spite of the difference in their age, Olive had long since judged her, an_ade up her mind that Adeline lacked every quality that a person needed to b_nteresting in her eyes. She was rich (or sufficiently so), she wa_onventional and timid, very fond of attentions from men (with whom indeed sh_as reputed bold, but Olive scorned such boldness as that), given up to _erely personal, egotistical, instinctive life, and as unconscious of th_endencies of the age, the revenges of the future, the new truths and th_reat social questions, as if she had been a mere bundle of dress-trimmings,
which she very nearly was. It was perfectly observable that she had n_onscience, and it irritated Olive deeply to see how much trouble a woman wa_pared when she was constructed on that system. Adeline's "affairs," as I hav_ntimated, her social relations, her views of Newton's education, her practic_nd her theory (for she had plenty of that, such as it was, heaven save th_ark!), her spasmodic disposition to marry again, and her still sillie_etreats in the presence of danger (for she had not even the courage of he_rivolity), these things had been a subject of tragic consideration to Oliv_ver since the return of the elder sister to America. The tragedy was not i_ny particular harm that Mrs. Luna could do her (for she did her good, rather,
that is, she did her honour by laughing at her), but in the spectacle itself,
the drama, guided by the hand of fate, of which the small, ignoble scene_nrolled themselves so logically. The dénouement would of course be i_eeping, and would consist simply of the spiritual death of Mrs. Luna, wh_ould end by understanding no common speech of Olive's at all, and would sin_nto mere worldly plumpness, into the last complacency, the suprem_mbecility, of petty, genteel conservatism. As for Newton, he would be mor_tterly odious, if possible, as he grew up, than he was already; in fact, h_ould not grow up at all, but only grow down, if his mother should continu_er infatuated system with him. He was insufferably forward and selfish; unde_he pretext of keeping him, at any cost, refined, Adeline had coddled an_aressed him, having him always in her petticoats, remitting his lessons whe_e pretended he had an earache, drawing him into the conversation, letting hi_nswer her back, with an impertinence beyond his years, when she administere_he smallest check. The place for him, in Olive's eyes, was one of the publi_chools, where the children of the people would teach him his smal_mportance, teach it, if necessary, by the aid of an occasional drubbing; an_he two ladies had a grand discussion on this point before Mrs. Luna lef_oston—a scene which ended in Adeline's clutching the irrepressible Newton t_er bosom (he came in at the moment), and demanding of him a vow that he woul_ive and die in the principles of his mother. Mrs. Luna declared that if sh_ust be trampled upon—and very likely it was her fate!—she would rather b_rampled upon by men than by women, and that if Olive and her friends shoul_et possession of the government they would be worse despots than those wh_ere celebrated in history. Newton took an infant oath that he would never b_ destructive, impious radical, and Olive felt that after this she needn'_rouble herself any more about her sister, whom she simply committed to he_ate. That fate might very properly be to marry an enemy of her country, a ma_ho, no doubt, desired to treat women with the lash and manacles, as he an_is people had formerly treated the wretched coloured race. If she was so fon_f the fine old institutions of the past, he would supply them to her i_bundance; and if she wanted so much to be a conservative, she could try firs_ow she liked being a conservative's wife. If Olive troubled herself littl_bout Adeline, she troubled herself more about Basil Ransom; she said t_erself that since he hated women who respected themselves (and each other),
destiny would use him rightly in hanging a person like Adeline round his neck.
That would be the way poetic justice ought to work, for him—and the law tha_ur prejudices, when they act themselves out, punish us in doing so. Oliv_onsidered all this, as it was her effort to consider everything, from a ver_igh point of view, and ended by feeling sure it was not for the sake of an_ervous personal security that she desired to see her two relations in Ne_ork get mixed up together. If such an event as their marriage would gratif_er sense of fitness, it would be simply as an illustration of certain laws.
Olive, thanks to the philosophic cast of her mind, was exceedingly fond o_llustrations of laws.
I hardly know, however, what illumination it was that sprang from he_onsciousness (now a source of considerable comfort) that Mrs. Farrinder wa_arrying the war into distant territories, and would return to Boston only i_ime to preside at a grand Female Convention, already advertised to take plac_n Boston in the month of June. It was agreeable to her that this imperia_oman should be away; it made the field more free, the air more light; i_uggested an exemption from official criticism. I have not taken space t_ention certain episodes of the more recent intercourse of these ladies, an_ust content myself with tracing them, lightly, in their consequences. Thes_ay be summed up in the remark, which will doubtless startle no one by it_reshness, that two imperial women are scarcely more likely to hit it of_ogether, as the phrase is, than two imperial men. Since that party at Mis_irdseye's, so important in its results for Olive, she had had occasion t_pproach Mrs. Farrinder more nearly, and those overtures brought forth th_nowledge that the great leader of the feminine revolution was the one person
(in that part of the world) more concentrated, more determined, than herself.
Miss Chancellor's aspirations, of late, had been immensely quickened; she ha_egun to believe in herself to a livelier tune than she had ever listened t_efore; and she now perceived that when spirit meets spirit there must eithe_e mutual absorption or a sharp concussion. It had long been familiar to he_hat she should have to count with the obstinacy of the world at large, bu_he now discovered that she should have to count also with certain elements i_he feminine camp. This complicated the problem, and such a complication,
naturally, could not make Mrs. Farrinder appear more easy to assimilate. I_live's was a high nature and so was hers, the fault was in neither; it wa_nly an admonition that they were not needed as landmarks in the same part o_he field. If such perceptions are delicate as between men, the reader nee_ot be reminded of the exquisite form they may assume in natures more refined.
So it was that Olive passed, in three months, from the stage of veneration t_hat of competition; and the process had been accelerated by the introductio_f Verena into the fold. Mrs. Farrinder had behaved in the strangest way abou_erena. First she had been struck with her, and then she hadn't; first she ha_eemed to want to take her in, then she had shied at he_nmistakably—intimating to Olive that there were enough of that kind already.
Of "that kind" indeed!—the phrase reverberated in Miss Chancellor's resentfu_oul. Was it possible she didn't know the kind Verena was of, and with wha_ulgar aspirants to notoriety did she confound her? It had been Olive'_riginal desire to obtain Mrs. Farrinder's stamp for her protégée; she wishe_er to hold a commission from the commander-in-chief. With this view the tw_oung women had made more than one pilgrimage to Roxbury, and on one of thes_ccasions the sibylline mood (in its most charming form) had descended upo_erena. She had fallen into it, naturally and gracefully, in the course o_alk, and poured out a stream of eloquence even more touching than her regula_iscourse at Miss Birdseye's. Mrs. Farrinder had taken it rather dryly, an_ertainly it didn't resemble her own style of oratory, remarkable and cogen_s this was. There had been considerable question of her writing a letter t_he New York Tribune, the effect of which should be to launch Miss Tarran_nto renown; but this beneficent epistle never appeared, and now Olive sa_hat there was no favour to come from the prophetess of Roxbury. There ha_een primnesses, pruderies, small reserves, which ended by staying her pen. I_live didn't say at once that she was jealous of Verena's more attractiv_anner, it was only because such a declaration was destined to produce mor_ffect a little later. What she did say was that evidently Mrs. Farrinde_anted to keep the movement in her own hands—viewed with suspicion certai_omantic, esthetic elements which Olive and Verena seemed to be trying t_ntroduce into it. They insisted so much, for instance, on the histori_nhappiness of women; but Mrs. Farrinder didn't appear to care anything fo_hat, or indeed to know much about history at all. She seemed to begin jus_o-day, and she demanded their rights for them whether they were unhappy o_ot. The upshot of this was that Olive threw herself on Verena's neck with _ovement which was half indignation, half rapture; she exclaimed that the_ould have to fight the battle without human help, but, after all, it wa_etter so. If they were all in all to each other, what more could they want?
They would be isolated, but they would be free; and this view of the situatio_rought with it a feeling that they had almost already begun to be a force. I_as not, indeed, that Olive's resentment faded quite away; for not only ha_he the sense, doubtless very presumptuous, that Mrs. Farrinder was the onl_erson thereabouts of a stature to judge her (a sufficient cause of antagonis_n itself, for if we like to be praised by our betters we prefer that censur_hould come from the other sort), but the kind of opinion she had unexpectedl_etrayed, after implying such esteem in the earlier phase of thei_ntercourse, made Olive's cheeks occasionally flush. She prayed heaven tha_he might never become so personal, so narrow. She was frivolous, worldly, a_mateur, a trifler, a frequenter of Beacon Street; her taking up Veren_arrant was only a kind of elderly, ridiculous doll-dressing: this was th_ight in which Miss Chancellor had reason to believe that it now suited Mrs.
Farrinder to regard her! It was fortunate, perhaps, that the misrepresentatio_as so gross; yet, none the less, tears of wrath rose more than once t_live's eyes when she reflected that this particular wrong had been put upo_er. Frivolous, worldly, Beacon Street! She appealed to Verena to share in he_ledge that the world should know in due time how much of that sort of thin_here was about her. As I have already hinted, Verena at such moments quit_ose to the occasion; she had private pangs at committing herself to give th_old shoulder to Beacon Street for ever; but she was now so completely i_live's hands that there was no sacrifice to which she would not hav_onsented in order to prove that her benefactress was not frivolous.
The matter of her coming to stay for so long in Charles Street was arrange_uring a visit that Selah Tarrant paid there at Miss Chancellor's request.
This interview, which had some curious features, would be worth describing bu_ am forbidden to do more than mention the most striking of these. Oliv_ished to have an understanding with him; wished the situation to be clear, s_hat, disagreeable as it would be to her to receive him, she sent him _ummons for a certain hour—an hour at which she had planned that Verena shoul_e out of the house. She withheld this incident from the girl's knowledge,
reflecting with some solemnity that it was the first deception (for Olive he_ilence was a deception) that she had yet practised on her friend, an_ondering whether she should have to practise others in the future. She the_nd there made up her mind that she would not shrink from others should the_e necessary. She notified Tarrant that she should keep Verena a long time,
and Tarrant remarked that it was certainly very pleasant to see her so happil_ocated. But he also intimated that he should like to know what Mis_hancellor laid out to do with her; and the tone of this suggestion made Oliv_eel how right she had been to foresee that their interview would have th_tamp of business. It assumed that complexion very definitely when she crosse_ver to her desk and wrote Mr. Tarrant a cheque for a very considerabl_mount. "Leave us alone—entirely alone—for a year, and then I will write yo_nother": it was with these words she handed him the little strip of pape_hat meant so much, feeling, as she did so, that surely Mrs. Farrinder hersel_ould not be less amateurish than that. Selah looked at the cheque, at Mis_hancellor, at the cheque again, at the ceiling, at the floor, at the clock,
and once more at his hostess; then the document disappeared beneath the fold_f his waterproof, and she saw that he was putting it into some queer place o_is queer person. "Well, if I didn't believe you were going to help her t_evelop," he remarked; and he stopped, while his hands continued to fumble,
out of sight, and he treated Olive to his large joyless smile. She assured hi_hat he need have no fear on that score; Verena's development was the thing i_he world in which she took most interest; she should have every opportunit_or a free expansion. "Yes, that's the great thing," Selah said; "it's mor_mportant than attracting a crowd. That's all we shall ask of you; let her ac_ut her nature. Don't all the trouble of humanity come from our being presse_ack? Don't shut down the cover, Miss Chancellor; just let her overflow!" An_gain Tarrant illuminated his inquiry, his metaphor, by the strange and silen_ateral movement of his jaws. He added, presently, that he supposed he shoul_ave to fix it with Mis' Tarrant; but Olive made no answer to that; she onl_ooked at him with a face in which she intended to express that there wa_othing that need detain him longer. She knew it had been fixed with Mrs.
Tarrant; she had been over all that with Verena, who had told her that he_other was willing to sacrifice her for her highest good. She had reason t_now (not through Verena, of course) that Mrs. Tarrant had embraced, tenderly,
the idea of a pecuniary compensation, and there was no fear of her making _cene when Tarrant should come back with a cheque in his pocket. "Well, _rust she may develop, richly, and that you may accomplish what you desire; i_eems as if we had only a little way to go further," that worthy observed, a_e erected himself for departure.
"It's not a little way; it's a very long way," Olive replied, rather sternly.
Tarrant was on the threshold; he lingered a little, embarrassed by he_rimness, for he himself had always inclined to rose-coloured views o_rogress, of the march of truth. He had never met any one so much in earnes_s this definite, literal young woman, who had taken such an unhoped-for fanc_o his daughter; whose longing for the new day had such perversities o_essimism, and who, in the midst of something that appeared to be terribl_earching in her honesty, was willing to corrupt him, as a father, with th_ost extravagant orders on her bank. He hardly knew in what language to spea_o her; it seemed as if there was nothing soothing enough, when a lady adopte_hat tone about a movement which was thought by some of the brightest to be s_romising. "Oh, well, I guess there's some kind of mysterious law… ." h_urmured, almost timidly; and so he passed from Miss Chancellor's sight.