Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/141

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The Sinner's Comedy.


I.


When the ninth Lord Middlehurst lay on his deathbed, he called each of his three children to him in turn. The heir he bade do his duty, and remember that Feudalism under a just lord was the only -Ism for a loyal subject and a patriot.

The second son he implored to give up smoking.

The third child, who was his favourite and a girl, he looked at in silence for a long time. When he spoke, it was in a whisper too low to be heard by the others, who lingered in the room at a distance from the bedside.

"Emily," he said, "all things in life are vanity—save one. That is Love. Find it. It is the philosopher's stone."

He did not speak again till just before he died, when he kissed his wife's hand with singular tenderness and called her "Elizabeth." She had been christened Augusta Frederica; but then, as the doctors explained, dying men often make these mistakes.

The effect produced on each of the three by the good nobleman's last injunctions was curious and significant.

The heir, who would have been very strong-minded

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