Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/15

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The Centaurians

tact with the world robbed me of all romance. I lived my life in a few months. In demeanor I was simplicity itself, jovial, gullible as ever, but where formerly I sought enjoyment I was now indifferent, content to bask in the supreme delight of proving my convictions correct. I never committed an error. Disinterestedness, gratitude, are chimeras. Through my reduced expenses Middleton & Co. figured, and honestly believed the gradual change meant matrimony; in no other way could they comprehend my sudden respectability. Middleton harped continually on the subject, Rollins made it the topic of conversation every time I visited his home, and Burke smiled suggestively, but refrained from remarks—he was not the orator of the firm.

As daughters did not ornament any of the three homes I became partially convinced of my duty, and following Middleton's advice began a series of inspection of my numerous cousins.

With the kind assistance of Rollins's wife (who believed herself too young for Rollins, but wasn't), I finally selected a tall, thin young woman, with rolling blue eyes, red cheeks, and rather pretty brown hair. Accustomed to quasi-fresh-wilted buds, I was attracted to the youth and apparent innocence of the girl. She was Carolyn, nineteen, with old age upon her at twenty-five. She was languid, insipid, and possessed the stereotyped conversation of nearly all girls of her age, who arrange their hair and dress all alike. She sang two songs in Italian, without knowing anything about it, and worried through four instrumental solos