Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/168

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The Sinner's Comedy.

wished him good-night, "you don't care for Tennyson!" He made a note in his pocket-book to the following effect: No man can attain the sublimity of the feminine egoist. Frivolity! Egoism! what were such abstracts weighed against that most sweet and tangible Feminine. To have discovered that some woman was Feminine was better than chasing the Absolute through the Libraries of Europe. It was, however, but a momentary rebellion against the ruling Uncertainty of his life. He had dedicated his days (he lived, from his own point of view, for two hours every morning before breakfast, and Eleanor) to the pursuit of the Absolute. His work when finished was to be called "The Metaphysic of Religion": every one said it would make him a bishop. Should he question the glory of the Unseen because one fair woman was in sight? Bitter self-reproach followed his brief moment of exultation.

"All is vanity," he sighed at last, and "discovering it—the greatest vanity." In this frame of mind he looked up, and saw he was near the church. The door was half-open: he heard the organ and recognized the touch. It belonged to no master-hand: and lacked everything that makes a touch—save audacity. He smiled at the childishness of the performance, which was too unaffectedly bad to offend his artistic taste. He pushed open the door and looked in. The player was Emily. She wore a scarlet gown fantastically embroidered in blue and gold; the light from the flaring gas-jet played on her hair and caught the diamonds on her fingers. In the dark, empty church, she looked to him like some evil spirit risen for his destruction. An evil