Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/164

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The Sinner's Comedy.

He tried to feel that this was not disturbing.

"Well," said Vallence, leaning back in his chair, with his eyes scanning, as it were, the hidden truths of criticism, "she is not, properly speaking, a pretty woman at all. She is a Manner. To call such a work of exquisite cunning pretty, or even beautiful, is only an attempt at appreciation."

"She is very subtle," said his wife.

"Next time I see her I will look at her more carefully," said Mrs. Molle. She paused, and then asked very suddenly, "Do you think she will ever marry Sir Richard Kilcoursie?"

"She likes Kilcoursie, no doubt," said Vallence.

"He is certainly amouraché, and she accepts the situation. I don't suppose he wants her to do more. It is only a very unselfish man who cares to be loved; the majority prefer to love—it lays them under fewer obligations."

"Do you think they would ever be happy together?" said Sacheverell,slowly.

Vallence shrugged his shoulders. "She must be disappointed in some man. To see men as they are not and never could be, is the peculiar privilege of the feminine nature. You see," he went on, "love comes to man through his senses—to woman through her imagination. I might even say, taking the subject on broad lines, that women love men for their virtue; while men, very often, love women for the absence of it."

"A woman would no doubt need a great deal of imagination to love a man for his virtue," said Carlotta, meekly.

But Vallence was lost in meditation. He had con-