Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/157

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The Sinner's Comedy.

family go to the devil if you would give up your extraordinary ideas and——"

"Richard," she said, gravely, "I will forgive what you were going to say."

"If you cared for me you would not think you had anything to forgive," he answered with a harsh laugh. "There is no crime in being Real. But there is so much mawkish, false sentiment about women, that a man is driven to hypocrisy in spite of himself."

"If you want a creature who will love you in your Real moments—if this is one—and in spite of them, you must look for her among the Pollies and Sallies. With them, what they call love is the only feeling—they have no others to offend."

Sir Richard looked at her, and wondered. "The truth is," he said, "men can't follow your way of loving. You see, they don't understand it. It's so—so——" he paused for the word—"well, it's so self-possessed."

"When are you going to be married?" she asked, presently.

He felt the awkwardness of the question: Emily had given no promise yet.

"There is nothing definitely arranged—at present."

"Well, I hope you will be happy."

A feeling not wholly unlike disappointment crept over him. For the first time in their history he doubted her love. The thought brought a gnawing loneliness.

"Do you quite understand it all, Anna?"

"Perfectly. She will be the mother of your heir; you will be faithful to her—in your better moments."

He blushed and said, "You know where to stab."