Page:The Bostonians (London & New York, Macmillan & Co., 1886).djvu/288

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XXIX.
THE BOSTONIANS.

a brother-in-law, for the harm such a relation could do one was limited and definite; whereas in his general capacity of being at large in her life the ability of the young Mississippian to injure her seemed somehow immense. 'I wrote to him—that time—for a perfectly definite reason,' she said. 'I thought mother would have liked us to know him. But it was a mistake.'

'How do you know it was a mistake? Mother would have liked him, I dare say.'

'I mean my acting as I did; it was a theory of duty which I allowed to press me too much. I always do. Duty should be obvious; one shouldn't hunt round for it.'

'Was it very obvious when it brought you on here?' asked Mrs. Luna, who was distinctly out of humour.

Olive looked for a moment at the toe of her shoe. 'I had an idea that you would have married him by this time,' she presently remarked.

'Marry him yourself, my dear! What put such an idea into your head?'

'You wrote to me at first so much about him. You told me he was tremendously attentive, and that you liked him.'

'His state of mind is one thing and mine is another. How can I marry every man that hangs about me—that dogs my footsteps? I might as well become a Mormon at once!' Mrs. Luna delivered herself of this argument with a certain charitable air, as if her sister could not be expected to understand such a situation by her own light.

Olive waived the discussion, and simply said: 'I took for granted you had got him the invitation.'

'I, my dear? That would be quite at variance with my attitude of discouragement.'

'Then she simply sent it herself.'

'Whom do you mean by "she"?'

'Mrs. Burrage, of course.'

'I thought that you might mean Verena,' said Mrs. Luna, casually.

'Verena—to him? Why in the world———?' And Olive gave the cold glare with which her sister was familiar.

'Why in the world not—since she knows him?'