Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/16

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The Centaurians

with murderous skill; also, she painted some, but Mamma gave it great importance and became a nuisance in her persistence that all should inspect the awful attempts, which were merely daubs even after the teacher had "gone over them." This was the extent of Carolyn's accomplishments, which opened preliminaries every time I ventured near her, and wise people versed in prediction aided by Mamma, had us married early in the skirmish. But Mamma was difficult, Carolyn impossible, and both possessed an omnivorous appetite for courtesy. Like boa-constrictors, they swallowed and swallowed and were always famished; and suddenly an unaccountable chill came upon me and I discovered the right was mine to live my own life. I could see no reason why I should burden myself with this great nonentity, this Carolyn, for the sole purpose of permitting her to inherit my wealth when she became my widow. It was an unnaturally cold conclusion and Middleton's pointedness became annoying. I advised him to get the matrimonial "bug" out of his head and quit bothering me. I did not regret Carolyn, but the affair was rather unfortunate, and she was young to be afflicted with the disappointment that all girls find so bitter and take so hard. Actuated by profound selfishness I renounced every inclination toward matrimony; martyr-like I vowed the lasciviousness of my race would end with me. I would live to squander this vast wealth and lead the ideal existence the poor imagine the wealthy enjoy. Possibly I would experience happiness, but in a superficial way, the in-