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Chapter 20

  • 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!