“I don’t wonder you feel so.”
“Feel so! You asked me just now how I stood this sort of life. I believe my hate for that man keeps me up like a stimulant. I believe it keeps me up when I see other poor devils that I—”
Suddenly Arms reached out his hand and grasped Carroll’s. “Good God! old fellow, I’m sorry for you!” he said. “You are too good for the dogs.”
“Yes, I know I am,” said Carroll, calmly.
The two men returned to the house and sat on the porch with the ladies. About half-past ten Anna Carroll said good-night, then Mrs. Carroll. Then Charlotte rose, and Ina also followed her up-stairs.
“Ina,” cried Charlotte, in a sort of angry embarrassment, when they had reached her chamber, “you’ve got to go back; indeed you have.”
“I suppose I ought.” Ina was blushing furiously, her lip quivered. She was twisting a ring on her engagement-finger.
“You have even kept the stone side in, so nobody could see that beautiful ring he brought you. You are mean—mean!” said Charlotte.
“You just imagine that,” said Ina, feebly. As she spoke she held up her hand, and a great diamond flashed rose and green and white.
“No, I don’t imagine it. I have not seen it once like that. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You must go straight back down-stairs. People when they are engaged always sit up alone together. You are not doing right coming up here with me.”
“What are you scolding me for? Who said I was not going back?” returned Ina, with resentful shame.
“You know you were not.”
“Well, good-night, honey,” said Charlotte, in a softer tone.
Charlotte kissed her sister, and saw her leave the room and go down to her lover with a curious mixture of pity and awe and wrath and wistful affection. It almost seemed to her that Ina was happy, although afraid and ashamed to be, and it made her seem like a stranger to the maiden ignorance of her own heart.
There was a good deal of talk in Banbridge when Ina Carroll’s wedding-invitations were out. There were not many issued. When it came to making out the list, the number of persons who, from what the family considered as a reasonable point of view, were possible, was exceedingly small.
“Of course we cannot ask such and such a one,” Mrs. Carroll would say, and the others would acquiesce simply, with no thought of the possibility of anything else.
“There’s that young man who goes on the train every morning with papa,” said Charlotte. “His name is Veazie—Francis Veazie. He has called here. They live on Elm Street. His father is that nice-looking old gentleman who walks past here every day, on his way to the mail, a little lame.”
“Charlotte, dear,” said Ina, “don’t you remember that somebody told us that that young man was a floor-walker in one of the department stores?”