She hoped she should not soon see him again, and there appeared to be n_eason she should, if their intercourse was to be conducted by means o_heques. The understanding with Verena was, of course, complete; she ha_romised to stay with her friend as long as her friend should require it. Sh_ad said at first that she couldn't give up her mother, but she had been mad_o feel that there was no question of giving up. She should be as free as air,
to go and come; she could spend hours and days with her mother, whenever Mrs.
Tarrant required her attention; all that Olive asked of her was that, for th_ime, she should regard Charles Street as her home. There was no struggl_bout this, for the simple reason that by the time the question came to th_ront Verena was completely under the charm. The idea of Olive's charm wil_erhaps make the reader smile; but I use the word not in its derived, but i_ts literal sense. The fine web of authority, of dependence, that he_trenuous companion had woven about her, was now as dense as a suit of golde_ail; and Verena was thoroughly interested in their great undertaking; she sa_t in the light of an active, enthusiastic faith. The benefit that her fathe_esired for her was now assured; she expanded, developed, on the most libera_cale. Olive saw the difference, and you may imagine how she rejoiced in it;
she had never known a greater pleasure. Verena's former attitude had bee_irlish submission, grateful, curious sympathy. She had given herself, in he_oung, amused surprise, because Olive's stronger will and the incisiv_roceedings with which she pointed her purpose drew her on. Besides, she wa_eld by hospitality, the vision of new social horizons, the sense of novelty,
and the love of change. But now the girl was disinterestedly attached to th_recious things they were to do together; she cared about them for themselves,
believed in them ardently, had them constantly in mind. Her share in the unio_f the two young women was no longer passive, purely appreciative; it wa_assionate, too, and it put forth a beautiful energy. If Olive desired to ge_erena into training, she could flatter herself that the process had alread_egun, and that her colleague enjoyed it almost as much as she. Therefore sh_ould say to herself, without the imputation of heartlessness, that when sh_eft her mother it was for a noble, a sacred use. In point of fact, she lef_er very little, and she spent hours in jingling, aching, jostled journey_etween Charles Street and the stale suburban cottage. Mrs. Tarrant sighed an_rimaced, wrapped herself more than ever in her mantle, said she didn't kno_s she was fit to struggle alone, and that, half the time, if Verena was away,
she wouldn't have the nerve to answer the door-bell; she was incapable, o_ourse, of neglecting such an opportunity to posture as one who paid with he_eart's blood for leading the van of human progress. But Verena had an inne_ense (she judged her mother now, a little, for the first time) that she woul_e sorry to be taken at her word, and that she felt safe enough in trusting t_er daughter's generosity. She could not divest herself of the faith—even no_hat Mrs. Luna was gone, leaving no trace, and the grey walls of a sedentar_inter were apparently closing about the two young women—she could no_enounce the theory that a residence in Charles Street must at least produc_ome contact with the brilliant classes. She was vexed at her daughter'_esignation to not going to parties and to Miss Chancellor's not giving them;
but it was nothing new for her to have to practise patience, and she coul_eel, at least, that it was just as handy for Mr. Burrage to call on the chil_n town, where he spent half his time, sleeping constantly at Parker's.
It was a fact that this fortunate youth called very often, and Verena saw hi_ith Olive's full concurrence whenever she was at home. It had now been quit_greed between them that no artificial limits should be set to the famou_hase; and Olive had, while it lasted, a sense of real heroism in steelin_erself against uneasiness. It seemed to her, moreover, only justice that sh_hould make some concession; if Verena made a great sacrifice of filial dut_n coming to live with her (this, of course, should be permanent—she would bu_ff the Tarrants from year to year), she must not incur the imputation (th_orld would judge her, in that case, ferociously) of keeping her from formin_ommon social ties. The friendship of a young man and a young woman was,
according to the pure code of New England, a common social tie; and as th_eeks elapsed Miss Chancellor saw no reason to repent of her temerity. Veren_as not falling in love; she felt that she should know it, should guess it o_he spot. Verena was fond of human intercourse; she was essentially a sociabl_reature; she liked to shine and smile and talk and listen; and so far a_enry Burrage was concerned he introduced an element of easy and convenien_elaxation into a life now a good deal stiffened (Olive was perfectly willin_o own it) by great civic purposes. But the girl was being saved, withou_nterference, by the simple operation of her interest in those very designs.
From this time there was no need of putting pressure on her; her own spring_ere working; the fire with which she glowed came from within. Sacredly,
brightly single she would remain; her only espousals would be at the altar o_ great cause. Olive always absented herself when Mr. Burrage was announced;
and when Verena afterwards attempted to give some account of his conversatio_he checked her, said she would rather know nothing about it—all with a ver_olemn mildness; this made her feel very superior, truly noble. She knew b_his time (I scarcely can tell how, since Verena could give her no report)
exactly what sort of a youth Mr. Burrage was: he was weakly pretentious,
softly original, cultivated eccentricity, patronised progress, liked to hav_ysteries, sudden appointments to keep, anonymous persons to visit, the air o_eading a double life, of being devoted to a girl whom people didn't know, o_t least didn't meet. Of course he liked to make an impression on Verena; bu_hat he mainly liked was to play her off upon the other girls, the daughter_f fashion, with whom he danced at Papanti's. Such were the images tha_roceeded from Olive's rich moral consciousness. "Well, he is greatl_nterested in our movement": so much Verena once managed to announce; but th_ords rather irritated Miss Chancellor, who, as we know, did not care to allo_or accidental exceptions in the great masculine conspiracy.
In the month of March Verena told her that Mr. Burrage was offerin_atrimony—offering it with much insistence, begging that she would at leas_ait and think of it before giving him a final answer. Verena was evidentl_ery glad to be able to say to Olive that she had assured him she couldn'_hink of it, and that if he expected this he had better not come any more. H_ontinued to come, and it was therefore to be supposed that he had ceased t_ount on such a concession; it was now Olive's opinion that he really didn'_esire it. She had a theory that he proposed to almost any girl who was no_ikely to accept him—did it because he was making a collection of suc_pisodes—a mental album of declarations, blushes, hesitations, refusals tha_ust missed imposing themselves as acceptances, quite as he collected enamel_nd Cremona violins. He would be very sorry indeed to ally himself to th_ouse of Tarrant; but such a fear didn't prevent him from holding it becomin_n a man of taste to give that encouragement to low-born girls who wer_retty, for one looked out for the special cases in which, for reasons (eve_he lowest might have reasons), they wouldn't "rise." "I told you I wouldn'_arry him, and I won't," Verena said, delightedly, to her friend; her ton_uggested that a certain credit belonged to her for the way she carried ou_er assurance. "I never thought you would, if you didn't want to," Oliv_eplied to this; and Verena could have no rejoinder but the good-humour tha_at in her eyes, unable as she was to say that she had wanted to. They had _ittle discussion, however, when she intimated that she pitied him for hi_iscomfiture, Olive's contention being that, selfish, conceited, pampered an_nsincere, he might properly be left now to digest his affront. Mis_hancellor felt none of the remorse now that she would have felt six month_efore at standing in the way of such a chance for Verena, and she would hav_een very angry if any one had asked her if she were not afraid of taking to_uch upon herself. She would have said, moreover, that she stood in no one'_ay, and that even if she were not there Verena would never think seriously o_ frivolous little man who fiddled while Rome was burning. This did no_revent Olive from making up her mind that they had better go to Europe in th_pring; a year's residence in that quarter of the globe would be highl_greeable to Verena, and might even contribute to the evolution of her genius.
It cost Miss Chancellor an effort to admit that any virtue still lingered i_he elder world, and that it could have any important lesson for two such goo_mericans as her friend and herself; but it suited her just then to make thi_ssumption, which was not altogether sincere. It was recommended by the ide_hat it would get her companion out of the way—out of the way of officiou_ellow-citizens—till she should be absolutely firm on her feet, and would als_ive greater intensity to their own long conversation. On that continent o_trangers they would cleave more closely still to each other. This, of course,
would be to fly before the inevitable "phase," much more than to face it; bu_live decided that if they should reach unscathed the term of their delay (th_irst of July) she should have faced it as much as either justice o_enerosity demanded. I may as well say at once that she traversed most of thi_eriod without further serious alarms and with a great many little thrills o_liss and hope.
Nothing happened to dissipate the good omens with which her partnership wit_erena Tarrant was at present surrounded. They threw themselves into study;
they had innumerable big books from the Athenæum, and consumed the midnigh_il. Henry Burrage, after Verena had shaken her head at him so sweetly an_adly, returned to New York, giving no sign; they only heard that he had take_efuge under the ruffled maternal wing. (Olive, at least, took for granted th_ing was ruffled; she could fancy how Mrs. Burrage would be affected by th_nowledge that her son had been refused by the daughter of a mesmeric healer.
She would be almost as angry as if she had learnt that he had been accepted.)
Matthias Pardon had not yet taken his revenge in the newspapers; he wa_erhaps nursing his thunderbolts; at any rate, now that the operatic seaso_ad begun, he was much occupied in interviewing the principal singers, one o_hom he described in one of the leading journals (Olive, at least, was sure i_as only he who could write like that) as "a dear little woman with bab_imples and kittenish movements." The Tarrants were apparently given up to _easure of sensual ease with which they had not hitherto been familiar, thank_o the increase of income that they drew from their eccentric protectress.
Mrs. Tarrant now enjoyed the ministrations of a "girl"; it was partly he_ride (at any rate, she chose to give it this turn) that her house had fo_any years been conducted without the element—so debasing on both sides—o_ervile, mercenary labour. She wrote to Olive (she was perpetually writing t_er now, but Olive never answered) that she was conscious of having fallen t_ lower plane, but she admitted that it was a prop to her wasted spirit t_ave some one to converse with when Selah was off. Verena, of course,
perceived the difference, which was inadequately explained by the theory of _udden increase of her father's practice (nothing of her father's had eve_ncreased like that), and ended by guessing the cause of it—a discovery whic_id not in the least disturb her equanimity. She accepted the idea that he_arents should receive a pecuniary tribute from the extraordinary friend who_he had encountered on the threshold of womanhood, just as she hersel_ccepted that friend's irresistible hospitality. She had no worldly pride, n_raditions of independence, no ideas of what was done and what was not done;
but there was only one thing that equalled this perfectly gentle and natura_nsensibility to favours—namely, the inveteracy of her habit of not askin_hem. Olive had had an apprehension that she would flush a little at learnin_he terms on which they should now be able to pursue their career together;
but Verena never changed colour; it was either not new or not disagreeable t_er that the authors of her being should be bought off, silenced by money,
treated as the troublesome of the lower orders are treated when they are no_ocked up; so that her friend had a perception, after this, that it woul_robably be impossible in any way ever to offend her. She was too rancourless,
too detached from conventional standards, too free from private self-
reference. It was too much to say of her that she forgave injuries, since sh_as not conscious of them; there was in forgiveness a certain arrogance o_hich she was incapable, and her bright mildness glided over the many trap_hat life sets for our consistency. Olive had always held that pride wa_ecessary to character, but there was no peculiarity of Verena's that coul_ake her spirit seem less pure. The added luxuries in the little house a_ambridge, which even with their help was still such a penal settlement, mad_er feel afresh that before she came to the rescue the daughter of that hous_ad traversed a desert of sordid misery. She had cooked and washed and swep_nd stitched; she had worked harder than any of Miss Chancellor's servants.
These things had left no trace upon her person or her mind; everything fres_nd fair renewed itself in her with extraordinary facility, everything ugl_nd tiresome evaporated as soon as it touched her; but Olive deemed that,
being what she was, she had a right to immense compensations. In the futur_he should have exceeding luxury and ease, and Miss Chancellor had n_ifficulty in persuading herself that persons doing the high intellectual an_oral work to which the two young ladies in Charles Street were now committe_wed it to themselves, owed it to the groaning sisterhood, to cultivate th_est material conditions. She herself was nothing of a sybarite, and she ha_roved, visiting the alleys and slums of Boston in the service of th_ssociated Charities, that there was no foulness of disease or misery sh_eared to look in the face; but her house had always been thoroughly wel_egulated, she was passionately clean, and she was an excellent woman o_usiness. Now, however, she elevated daintiness to a religion; her interio_hone with superfluous friction, with punctuality, with winter roses. Amon_hese soft influences Verena herself bloomed like the flower that attains suc_erfection in Boston. Olive had always rated high the native refinement of he_ountry-women, their latent "adaptability," their talent for accommodatin_hemselves at a glance to changed conditions; but the way her companion ros_ith the level of the civilisation that surrounded her, the way sh_ssimilated all delicacies and absorbed all traditions, left this friendl_heory halting behind. The winter days were still, indoors, in Charles Street,
and the winter nights secure from interruption. Our two young women had plent_f duties, but Olive had never favoured the custom of running in and out. Muc_onference on social and reformatory topics went forward under her roof, an_he received her colleagues—she belonged to twenty associations an_ommittees—only at pre-appointed hours, which she expected them to observ_igidly. Verena's share in these proceedings was not active; she hovered ove_hem, smiling, listening, dropping occasionally a fanciful though never a_dle word, like some gently animated image placed there for good omen. It wa_nderstood that her part was before the scenes, not behind; that she was not _rompter, but (potentially, at least) a "popular favourite," and that the wor_ver which Miss Chancellor presided so efficiently was a general preparatio_f the platform on which, later, her companion would execute the most strikin_teps.
The western windows of Olive's drawing-room, looking over the water, took i_he red sunsets of winter; the long, low bridge that crawled, on it_taggering posts, across the Charles; the casual patches of ice and snow; th_esolate suburban horizons, peeled and made bald by the rigour of the season;
the general hard, cold void of the prospect; the extrusion, at Charlestown, a_ambridge, of a few chimneys and steeples, straight, sordid tubes of factorie_nd engine-shops, or spare, heavenward finger of the New England meeting-
house. There was something inexorable in the poverty of the scene, shameful i_he meanness of its details, which gave a collective impression of boards an_in and frozen earth, sheds and rotting piles, railway-lines striding fla_cross a thoroughfare of puddles, and tracks of the humbler, the universa_orse-car, traversing obliquely this path of danger; loose fences, vacan_ots, mounds of refuse, yards bestrewn with iron pipes, telegraph poles, an_are wooden backs of places. Verena thought such a view lovely, and she was b_o means without excuse when, as the afternoon closed, the ugly picture wa_inted with a clear, cold rosiness. The air, in its windless chill, seemed t_inkle like a crystal, the faintest gradations of tone were perceptible in th_ky, the west became deep and delicate, everything grew doubly distinct befor_aking on the dimness of evening. There were pink flushes on snow, "tender"
reflexions in patches of stiffened marsh, sounds of car-bells, no longe_ulgar, but almost silvery, on the long bridge, lonely outlines of distan_usky undulations against the fading glow. These agreeable effects used t_ight up that end of the drawing-room, and Olive often sat at the window wit_er companion before it was time for the lamp. They admired the sunsets, the_ejoiced in the ruddy spots projected upon the parlour-wall, they followed th_arkening perspective in fanciful excursions. They watched the stellar point_ome out at last in a colder heaven, and then, shuddering a little, arm i_rm, they turned away, with a sense that the winter night was even more crue_han the tyranny of men—turned back to drawn curtains and a brighter fire an_ glittering tea-tray and more and more talk about the long martyrdom o_omen, a subject as to which Olive was inexhaustible and really mos_nteresting. There were some nights of deep snowfall, when Charles Street wa_hite and muffled and the door-bell foredoomed to silence, which seemed littl_slands of lamp-light, of enlarged and intensified vision. They read a grea_eal of history together, and read it ever with the same thought—that o_inding confirmation in it for this idea that their sex had suffere_nexpressibly, and that at any moment in the course of human affairs the stat_f the world would have been so much less horrible (history seemed to them i_very way horrible) if women had been able to press down the scale. Verena wa_ull of suggestions which stimulated discussions; it was she, oftenest, wh_ept in view the fact that a good many women in the past had been entruste_ith power and had not always used it amiably, who brought up the wicke_ueens, the profligate mistresses of kings. These ladies were easily dispose_f between the two, and the public crimes of Bloody Mary, the privat_isdemeanours of Faustina, wife of the pure Marcus Aurelius, were ver_atisfactorily classified. If the influence of women in the past accounted fo_very act of virtue that men had happened to achieve, it only made the matte_alance properly that the influence of men should explain the casua_rregularities of the other sex. Olive could see how few books had passe_hrough Verena's hands, and how little the home of the Tarrants had been _ouse of reading; but the girl now traversed the fields of literature with he_haracteristic lightness of step. Everything she turned to or took up becam_n illustration of the facility, the "giftedness," which Olive, who had s_ittle of it, never ceased to wonder at and prize. Nothing frightened her; sh_lways smiled at it, she could do anything she tried. As she knew how to d_ther things, she knew how to study; she read quickly and remembere_nfallibly; could repeat, days afterward, passages that she appeared only t_ave glanced at. Olive, of course, was more and more happy to think that thei_ause should have the services of an organisation so rare.
All this doubtless sounds rather dry, and I hasten to add that our friend_ere not always shut up in Miss Chancellor's strenuous parlour. In spite o_live's desire to keep her precious inmate to herself and to bend he_ttention upon their common studies, in spite of her constantly remindin_erena that this winter was to be purely educative and that the platitudes o_he satisfied and unregenerate would have little to teach her, in spite, i_hort, of the severe and constant duality of our young women, it must not b_upposed that their life had not many personal confluents and tributaries.
Individual and original as Miss Chancellor was universally acknowledged to be,
she was yet a typical Bostonian, and as a typical Bostonian she could not fai_o belong in some degree to a "set." It had been said of her that she was i_t but not of it; but she was of it enough to go occasionally into othe_ouses and to receive their occupants in her own. It was her belief that sh_illed her tea-pot with the spoon of hospitality, and made a good many selec_pirits feel that they were welcome under her roof at convenient hours. Sh_ad a preference for what she called real people, and there were several whos_eality she had tested by arts known to herself. This little society wa_ather suburban and miscellaneous; it was prolific in ladies who trotte_bout, early and late, with books from the Athenæum nursed behind their muff,
or little nosegays of exquisite flowers that they were carrying as presents t_ach other. Verena, who, when Olive was not with her, indulged in a good dea_f desultory contemplation at the window, saw them pass the house in Charle_treet, always apparently straining a little, as if they might be too late fo_omething. At almost any time, for she envied their preoccupation, she woul_ave taken the chance with them. Very often, when she described them to he_other, Mrs. Tarrant didn't know who they were; there were even days (she ha_o many discouragements) when it seemed as if she didn't want to know. So lon_s they were not some one else, it seemed to be no use that they wer_hemselves; whoever they were, they were sure to have that defect. Even afte_ll her mother's disquisitions Verena had but vague ideas as to whom she woul_ave liked them to be; and it was only when the girl talked of the concerts,
to all of which Olive subscribed and conducted her inseparable friend, tha_rs. Tarrant appeared to feel in any degree that her daughter was living up t_he standard formed for her in their Cambridge home. As all the world knows,
the opportunities in Boston for hearing good music are numerous and excellent,
and it had long been Miss Chancellor's practice to cultivate the best. Sh_ent in, as the phrase is, for the superior programmes, and that high, dim,
dignified Music Hall, which has echoed in its time to so much eloquence and s_uch melody, and of which the very proportions and colour seem to teac_espect and attention, shed the protection of its illuminated cornice, thi_inter, upon no faces more intelligently upturned than those of the youn_omen for whom Bach and Beethoven only repeated, in a myriad forms, the ide_hat was always with them. Symphonies and fugues only stimulated thei_onvictions, excited their revolutionary passion, led their imaginatio_urther in the direction in which it was always pressing. It lifted them t_mmeasurable heights; and as they sat looking at the great florid, sombr_rgan, overhanging the bronze statue of Beethoven, they felt that this was th_nly temple in which the votaries of their creed could worship.
And yet their music was not their greatest joy, for they had two others whic_hey cultivated at least as zealously. One of these was simply the society o_ld Miss Birdseye, of whom Olive saw more this winter than she had ever see_efore. It had become apparent that her long and beautiful career was drawin_o a close, her earnest, unremitting work was over, her old-fashioned weapon_ere broken and dull. Olive would have liked to hang them up as venerabl_elics of a patient fight, and this was what she seemed to do when she mad_he poor lady relate her battles—never glorious and brilliant, but obscure an_astefully heroic—call back the figures of her companions in arms, exhibit he_edals and scars. Miss Birdseye knew that her uses were ended; she migh_retend still to go about the business of unpopular causes, might fumble fo_apers in her immemorial satchel and think she had important appointments,
might sign petitions, attend conventions, say to Doctor Prance that if sh_ould only make her sleep she should live to see a great many improvement_et; she ached and was weary, growing almost as glad to look back (a grea_nomaly for Miss Birdseye) as to look forward. She let herself be coddled no_y her friends of the new generation; there were days when she seemed to wan_othing better than to sit by Olive's fire and ramble on about the ol_truggles, with a vague, comfortable sense—no physical rapture of Mis_irdseye's could be very acute—of immunity from wet feet, from the draught_hat prevail at thin meetings, of independence of street-cars that woul_robably arrive overflowing; and also a pleased perception, not that she wa_n example to these fresh lives which began with more advantages than hers,
but that she was in some degree an encouragement, as she helped them t_easure the way the new truths had advanced—being able to tell them of such _ifferent state of things when she was a young lady, the daughter of a ver_alented teacher (indeed her mother had been a teacher too), down i_onnecticut. She had always had for Olive a kind of aroma of martyrdom, an_er battered, unremunerated, un-pensioned old age brought angry tears,
springing from depths of outraged theory, into Miss Chancellor's eyes. Fo_erena, too, she was a picturesque humanitary figure. Verena had been in th_abit of meeting martyrs from her childhood up, but she had seen none with s_any reminiscences as Miss Birdseye, or who had been so nearly scorched b_enal fires. She had had escapes, in the early days of abolitionism, which i_as a marvel she could tell with so little implication that she had show_ourage. She had roamed through certain parts of the South, carrying the Bibl_o the slave; and more than one of her companions, in the course of thes_xpeditions, had been tarred and feathered. She herself, at one season, ha_pent a month in a Georgian jail. She had preached temperance in Irish circle_here the doctrine was received with missiles; she had interfered betwee_ives and husbands mad with drink; she had taken filthy children, picked up i_he street, to her own poor rooms, and had removed their pestilent rags an_ashed their sore bodies with slippery little hands. In her own person sh_ppeared to Olive and Verena a representative of suffering humanity; the pit_hey felt for her was part of their pity for all who were weakest and mos_ardly used; and it struck Miss Chancellor (more especially) that this frump_ittle missionary was the last link in a tradition, and that when she shoul_e called away the heroic age of New England life—the age of plain living an_igh thinking, of pure ideals and earnest effort, of moral passion and nobl_xperiment—would effectually be closed. It was the perennial freshness of Mis_irdseye's faith that had had such a contagion for these modern maidens, th_nquenched flame of her transcendentalism, the simplicity of her vision, th_ay in which, in spite of mistakes, deceptions, the changing fashions o_eform, which make the remedies of a previous generation look as ridiculous a_heir bonnets, the only thing that was still actual for her was the elevatio_f the species by the reading of Emerson and the frequentation of Tremon_emple. Olive had been active enough, for years, in the city-missions; she to_ad scoured dirty children, and, in squalid lodging-houses, had gone int_ooms where the domestic situation was strained and the noises made th_eighbours turn pale. But she reflected that after such exertions she had th_efreshment of a pretty house, a drawing-room full of flowers, a cracklin_earth, where she threw in pine-cones and made them snap, an imported tea-
service, a Chickering piano, and the Deutsche Rundschau; whereas Miss Birdsey_ad only a bare, vulgar room, with a hideous flowered carpet (it looked like _entist's), a cold furnace, the evening paper, and Doctor Prance. Olive an_erena were present at another of her gatherings before the winter ended; i_esembled the occasion that we described at the beginning of this history,
with the difference that Mrs. Farrinder was not there to oppress the compan_ith her greatness, and that Verena made a speech without the co-operation o_er father. This young lady had delivered herself with even finer effect tha_efore, and Olive could see how much she had gained, in confidence and rang_f allusion, since the educative process in Charles Street began. Her moti_as now a kind of unprepared tribute to Miss Birdseye, the fruit of th_ccasion and of the unanimous tenderness of the younger members of the circle,
which made her a willing mouthpiece. She pictured her laborious career, he_arly associates (Eliza P. Moseley was not neglected as Verena passed), he_ifficulties and dangers and triumphs, her humanising effect upon so many, he_erene and honoured old age—expressed, in short, as one of the ladies said,
just the very way they all felt about her. Verena's face brightened and gre_riumphant as she spoke, but she brought tears into the eyes of most of th_thers. It was Olive's opinion that nothing could be more graceful an_ouching, and she saw that the impression made was now deeper than on th_ormer evening. Miss Birdseye went about with her eighty years of innocence,
her undiscriminating spectacles, asking her friends if it wasn't perfectl_plendid; she took none of it to herself, she regarded it only as a brillian_xpression of Verena's gift. Olive thought, afterwards, that if a collectio_ould only be taken up on the spot, the good lady would be made easy for th_est of her days; then she remembered that most of her guests were a_mpecunious as herself.
I have intimated that our young friends had a source of fortifying emotio_hich was distinct from the hours they spent with Beethoven and Bach, or i_earing Miss Birdseye describe Concord as it used to be. This consisted in th_onderful insight they had obtained into the history of feminine anguish. The_erused that chapter perpetually and zealously, and they derived from it th_urest part of their mission. Olive had pored over it so long, so earnestly,
that she was now in complete possession of the subject; it was the one thin_n life which she felt she had really mastered. She was able to exhibit it t_erena with the greatest authority and accuracy, to lead her up and down, i_nd out, through all the darkest and most tortuous passages. We know that sh_as without belief in her own eloquence, but she was very eloquent when sh_eminded Verena how the exquisite weakness of women had never been thei_efence, but had only exposed them to sufferings more acute than masculin_rossness can conceive. Their odious partner had trampled upon them from th_eginning of time, and their tenderness, their abnegation, had been hi_pportunity. All the bullied wives, the stricken mothers, the dishonoured,
deserted maidens who have lived on the earth and longed to leave it, passe_nd repassed before her eyes, and the interminable dim procession seemed t_tretch out a myriad hands to her. She sat with them at their tremblin_igils, listened for the tread, the voice, at which they grew pale and sick,
walked with them by the dark waters that offered to wash away misery an_hame, took with them, even, when the vision grew intense, the last shudderin_eap. She had analysed to an extraordinary fineness their susceptibility,
their softness; she knew (or she thought she knew) all the possible torture_f anxiety, of suspense and dread; and she had made up her mind that it wa_omen, in the end, who had paid for everything. In the last resort the whol_urden of the human lot came upon them; it pressed upon them far more than o_he others, the intolerable load of fate. It was they who sat cramped an_hained to receive it; it was they who had done all the waiting and taken al_he wounds. The sacrifices, the blood, the tears, the terrors were theirs.
Their organism was in itself a challenge to suffering, and men had practise_pon it with an impudence that knew no bounds. As they were the weakest mos_ad been wrung from them, and as they were the most generous they had bee_ost deceived. Olive Chancellor would have rested her case, had it bee_ecessary, on those general facts; and her simple and comprehensive contentio_as that the peculiar wretchedness which had been the very essence of th_eminine lot was a monstrous artificial imposition, crying aloud for redress.
She was willing to admit that women, too, could be bad; that there were man_bout the world who were false, immoral, vile. But their errors were a_othing to their sufferings; they had expiated, in advance, an eternity, i_eed be, of misconduct. Olive poured forth these views to her listening an_esponsive friend; she presented them again and again, and there was no ligh_n which they did not seem to palpitate with truth. Verena was immensel_rought upon; a subtle fire passed into her; she was not so hungry for reveng_s Olive, but at the last, before they went to Europe (I shall take no plac_o describe the manner in which she threw herself into that project), sh_uite agreed with her companion that after so many ages of wrong (it woul_lso be after the European journey) men must take their turn, men must pay!