Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/165

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The Sinner's Comedy.
149
 

ceived a magazine article to be called "The Pleasing of a Lute," and beginning thus: The poet in his artificial passion expresses what man feels naturally and needs all his reason to repress....

"I have heard, as one does hear such things," said Mrs. Molle, "that Sir Richard almost married an actress."

"I think she was an artist," said Carlotta; "but pray never speak of it before Emily."

The actress who might have been an artist was grateful to Sacheverell's fancy. He had a fine Bohemian instinct. "Indeed," he said, and looked at Vallence.

"Ah," said that gentleman, ever ready to discuss one friend with another—in fact, it was chiefly for this pleasure that he made them—"ah, a curious affair altogether. But it merely illustrates the great law of infidelity in human nature. A man must be faithless to something—either to a woman, or his God, or his firmest belief. Kilcoursie certainly appeared very devoted to the other lady—whoever she was. I have heard from several people that they were always together at one time. No one knows her name. They tell me that she looks like Vittoria Colonna."

"Dear me," said Eleanor, thinking that she must hunt out Vittoria in the Classical Dictionary.

Sacheverell strolled to the window. "It has stopped raining," he said. "I think I will go out."

Once in the open air, he threw back his head very much like a dog let loose from his chain. He almost wondered how he had escaped from that close room, the clatter of the teacups, the worse clatter of tongues.