Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/121

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Some Emotions and a Moral.

his own free will loved you, and always will love you; that he never has loved and never will love any one else. I grant all that. But all men are very much what women make them: their wills may be iron, but women don't attack them through their wills. They throw spells over their judgment. Sometimes the spell works for good—more often for evil; for women as a rule are meaner than men—though men are mean enough, Heaven knows."

"Do you think that my influence over Godfrey would be mean?" said Cynthia.

"No," said her aunt, speaking more gently, "if you were his wife it would only be for good. I used not to think so—now I feel sure of it. But as you are not his wife, your influence is only—can only be—dangerous. I don't pretend to be a good woman: you are much better, much stronger than I am really, and I want you to be always better. I—once—had an influence; I did not use it well. When I thought I was most proving my love, I was most thinking of myself."

Cynthia coloured painfully and began to tremble.

"Sometimes," said Lady Theodosia, "a woman can best show her love for a man by leaving him. In some cases it is the only thing she can do. Be brave, Cynthia."

"I will do what is best for him," said Cynthia. "As for me—without him there can be no best." Again there was a long silence. "I am asking so little," said Cynthia, at last, "so very little. Only to see him sometimes. It isn't much."

"Each time you see him it will be harder to say good-bye. Remember that."