Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/172

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The Sinner's Comedy.

"Fancy! " said Mrs. Grimmage, "only fancy! Was she very nice?"

"Nice? Dear God! Where did you learn that word? Nice!" He threw back his head and laughed. But only for a moment. The old dumbness once more took possession of him; he went silently out of the room and shut himself in his study. Mrs. Grimmage, who peeped in a little later as much from nervousness as curiosity, found him hard at work on his humorous sketch for The Gossip.

He had written for more than three hours when he was roused by a sharp tap at the door. He opened it, and Anna, paler and graver than her wont, stood before him.

"Are you busy?" she said. "Shall I disturb you?"

"I am glad you have come," he said, "I was wondering what had become of you."

She sat down, took off her hat and loosened her cloak. "Now I am here I am afraid you will find me very dull. I have been working rather hard lately. I have also been disappointed in one or two things. Not that I should mind disappointment—now.

Legge glanced at his bookshelves. "Stick to the Immortals," he said, "they will never disappoint you. And they are always there—when you want them."

"Ah," said Anna, "but unfortunately before we can love the Immortals and understand them, we must have some experience of the Mortal."

He sighed, and made no answer.

"Have you any news?" said Anna. "How are the children?"