“I beg your pardon, dear,” said she, “but, ha, ha, ha! it was so funny! — like a scene in a play, I should think.”
“I know I’ve been silly, Maria,” said Laura, weeping again, — with shame, this time.
“Never mind, dear,” said her sister, in a kind tone, “we’re all silly sometimes. You’ll never be guilty of the folly again, at any rate, of supposing that girls can be married, in spite of themselves, by cruel sisters; eh, Laura?”
“Oh, Maria, do forgive me!” cried Laura, blushing crimson. “I was so very silly!”
“Well, let it all go,” said Mrs. Jaynes, kissing her. “Now we’ll talk about this letter. Tell me why you don’t wish to marry Mr. Hunt. If you have any good reason against it, I’m sure I don’t desire it; though, I confess, having supposed so long it was a settled thing, I had set my heart upon it. Perhaps this disappointment has been sent to me for some wise purpose,” added Mrs. Jaynes, with a pious sigh.
Thus encouraged, Laura opened her heart and began to talk, saying that she didn’t like Mr. Hunt, that she didn’t love him, that she disliked him, and hated him, and that he was hateful, and horrid, and awful, and dreadful, and so homely, and pale, and pimpled, and, ugh! she should never like him, nor love him, but always dislike him, and hate him. And on she went in this manner, till her fervor was cooled, and she had exhausted, by frequent repetition, every form of speech capable of expressing her great repugnance to a union with Elam Hunt. In conclusion, she said she was willing never to marry, but would remain with her sister and work for her and the children all her life.
“Thank you, dear,” said Mrs. Jaynes. “We’ll talk of your kind offer presently; and you will see, I think, that I have no desire that you should live and die an old maid, even in ease you do not marry Mr. Hunt.”
“I’m sure I’d rather than not,” said Laura, with a twinge of conscience at the thought of her hero.
“Have you said all that you’ve got to say?” asked Mrs. Jaynes, very quietly.
Laura looked up into her sister’s grave, sober face, and felt a chill of vague apprehension begin to take the place of the hopeful glow in her heart.
“Eh?” said Mrs. Jaynes, inquiringly.
“Y—yes,” faltered Laura, “only this, I don’t like him, and he’s such a horrid, disgusting man, — and—and—that’s all, I believe, except that I don’t like him, and think he’s so disagreeable, — and—oh, yes! there’s another thing, — he wears blue spectacles, — ugh! blue spectacles!
“Is there anything more?” said Mrs. Jaynes, still speaking with the same even, quiet voice.
“N—no,” said Laura, “only I——” and here she paused.
“Don’t like him,” added Mrs. Jaynes, supplying the words.
“Yes, that’s it,” said Laura. “I know I’m foolish, but——”
“It’s much to confess it,” said Mrs. Jaynes. “Now that I’ve patiently heard all that you have to say, I wish to be heard a few words in favor of a dear and worthy friend of mine, against whom you appear to entertain a groundless antipathy.”