Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/171

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The Sinner's Comedy.

marriage; that he had never been the same man since; that he worked from morning till night; that no one had ever heard him complain. To look at he was pale, and, to the unseeing eye, insignificant; a man who could sit for hours anywhere and in any company unobserved and silent—indeed, his silence at all times was tragic. To a woman like Mrs. Grimmage it was even awful and mysterious; she tried to understand him, but could not. He was too dim; he seemed already in the land of shadows.

His two little girls he kept at a school in the country; he had no friends who called to see him—if he had any, he saw them in town: the only creature who ventured to Avenue Villas was, oddly enough, a young and beautiful woman. She was his niece, and Mrs. Grimmage knew her as "Mrs. Christian." She had heard Legge address her as "Anna." But she came very seldom, and he never referred to her. Months would pass, when the good Grimmage could only wonder whether she were dead or gone abroad.

"Mr. Legge," she found courage to say to him one day, "is Mrs. Christian a widow?"

"No," he said, quietly.

Mrs. Grimmage had just nursed him through a very sharp attack of bronchitis; she felt she might safely venture on a little light conversation.

"She don't favour you, sir."

"She is my wife's niece."

"Is she anything like her?"

"No," he said; "my wife was beautiful—I cannot tell you how beautiful." For the lover there is only one glory. He paused and sighed; his eyes seemed to pierce into another world.