The Colonel reddened consciously. "I'm not taking him on that basis."
"Oh yes, you are! You may pretend you ain't to yourself, but you mustn't pretend so to me. Because I know you."
The Colonel laughed. "Pshaw!" he said.
Mrs. Lapham continued: "I don't see any harm in hoping that he'll take a fancy to her. But if you really think it won't do to mix the two things, I advise you not to take Mr. Corey into the business. It will do all very well if he DOES take a fancy to her; but if he don't, you know how you'll feel about it. And I know you well enough, Silas, to know that you can't do him justice if that happens. And I don't think it's right you should take this step unless you're pretty sure. I can see that you've set your heart on this thing."
"I haven't set my heart on it at all," protested Lapham.
"And if you can't bring it about, you're going to feel unhappy over it," pursued his wife, regardless of his protest.
"Oh, very well," he said. "If you know more about what's in my mind than I do, there's no use arguing, as I can see."
He got up, to carry off his consciousness, and sauntered out of the door on to his piazza. He could see the young people down on the rocks, and his heart swelled in his breast. He had always said that he did not care what a man's family was, but the presence of young Corey as an applicant to him for employment, as his guest, as the possible suitor of his daughter, was one of the sweetest flavours that he had yet tasted in his success. He knew who the Coreys were very well, and, in his simple, brutal way, he had long hated their name as a symbol of splendour which, unless he should live to see at least three generations of his descendants gilded with mineral paint, he could not hope to realise in his own. He was acquainted in a business way with the tradition of old Phillips Corey, and he had heard a great many things about the Corey who had spent his youth abroad and his father's money everywhere, and done nothing but say smart things. Lapham could not see the smartness of some of them which had been repeated to him. Once he had encountered the fellow, and it seemed to Lapham that the tall, slim, white-moustached man, with the slight stoop, was everything that was offensively aristocratic. He had bristled up aggressively at the name when his wife told how she had made the acquaintance of the fellow's family the summer before, and he had treated the notion of young Corey's caring for Irene with the contempt which such a ridiculous superstition deserved. He had made up his mind about young Corey beforehand; yet when he met him he felt an instant liking for him, which he frankly acknowledged, and he had begun to assume the burden of his wife's superstition, of which she seemed now ready to accuse him of being the inventor.
Nothing had moved his thick imagination like this day's events since the girl who taught him spelling and grammar in the school at Lumberville had said she would have him for her husband.
The dark figures, stationary on the rocks, began to move, and he could see that they were coming toward the house. He went indoors, so as not to appear to have been watching them.