Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/152

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136
The Sinner's Comedy.
 

"I don't want any other woman to love me. I only want to love you. May I?"

She looked at him and owned to herself that he was a lover any woman would be proud of. Honest love, or its semblance, will always gain a woman's sympathy even if it fails to win her heart. To Emily, who doubted whether she had a heart to lose, it had the added fascination of mystery. She envied him his gift of loving. Next to it, she thought the gift of surrendering were most to be desired. But she could not make up her mind to surrender. Freedom, too, was not without its sweetness.

"Love is not for me," she said, with a gentle sigh; "don't think of it—don't speak of it. There is nothing in the world for me but to grow old and die. That is my future." She sighed once more and glanced down at her half-mourning—designed by Worth. "Let us talk of something else."

But his blood was up. The ancestral Paddy (on his mother's side) was tugging at his heart-strings. "Why did God put you in the world—if you are not to be loved and worshipped and—oh, Emily!"

She laughed in spite of herself. "I am afraid," she said, "God has something else to think of besides my love-affairs!"

"Emily!"

"Yes, Richard." (He hardly liked the Richard—it had a sisterly inflection.)

"When may I see you again? Here are those beastlv lodge-gates. I must see you soon. Say tomorrow."

"Well, if you call, you are not to say—the things