Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/147

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The Sinner's Comedy.
131
 

as a work of art: that was the first impression he left, and the one which remained when all others were dispelled or forgotten. Richard loved her—or thought so; she loved him, and thought nothing at all about it. A little close reasoning would have shown her that it was affection and good-fellowship she bore him, and no more. Marriage—even viewed as an impossibility—or the commoner relation in Jasper Street, never occurred to her. Her experience of the married state had been so terrible that she could not trust herself to remember it; to anticipate even the risk of another such made her pale.

For two years Richard was perfectly happy in her friendship—or, at least, possessed by the excitement which passes so readily for happiness; for one he was contented; at the beginning of the fourth year he came into his title. Then life took at once a wider and a narrower meaning: wider, because his interests covered a larger field, narrower, because his own personality—the figure of Sir Richard Kilcoursie—blocked up the way. Not that his egoism was loud-voiced or swaggering—it was merely constant: if his intellect had possessed an equal stability he would, no doubt, have achieved greatness. As it was, his pleasure-loving mind found satisfaction—if nothing better presented itself—in the unsatisfactory: he endeavoured to elude disappointment with the same persistence as the metaphysician seeks for truth. If his love-bird proved a sparrow, he would discover unimagined charms in the sparrow—not the least of them being that it had been clever enough to deceive him. His companionship with Anna was the one really serious element in his life. Although her