Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/143

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The Sinner's Comedy.
127


Before a fortnight had passed, he was limiting himself to four pipes a day—with fluctuating success. "A fellow can't break off a habit all at once," he said; "it would play the very devil with his nerves, to begin with!"

Emily, who was eighteen at the time of her father's death, married in the following year, at her mother's suggestion, a Mr. Francis Adolphus Prentice, of the firm of Prentice, Rawncliffe, Prentice and Company, bankers, a gentleman of middle age, for whom she cherished the highest respect and esteem. She had met him at six dinners, two tennis-parties, and a court ball. To a young girl marriage only means a trousseau and a honeymoon; the trousseau she can describe to a flounce: she imagines the honeymoon as a flirtation under the blessing of the Church. Emily, not unmindful of her future husband's brief but destroying small-talk, waived the idea of flirtation, and concentrated her thoughts on the trousseau. Just six months after the wedding, the unfortunate gentleman died of an illness which began with a carbuncle and ended in complications. Emily was shocked at his death, and grieved because she could not grieve. He had been so very kind and so very stupid. She went in mournful weeds, and ordered orchids to be placed on his grave twice a week. Her mother suggested, "At all events, for the present"

In stature Mrs. Prentice was rather above the average height. Her symmetry was modern: she was the Venus of the Luxembourg, not the goddess of Milo. Her hair, which was fine and abundant, was of that very light brown which usually accompanies a sallow skin. Emily's complexion was like