Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/173

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The Sinner's Comedy.

"They are well. They write me very happy letters. Mary has the French prize and Laura has smashed the schoolroom window. They both want new hats."

"Let me choose them," she said; "they would like them much better if they came from London. Children have a great idea of style." She began to laugh—not hysterically, but without mirth. "Richard is going to be married," she said.

Legge's pale face burned with sympathy. He was not altogether surprised at the news—like most people of melancholic temper, he had a quick insight into human nature. He had known from the commencement that Kilcoursie's marriage, with some other woman, would be only a question of time. Anna was bearing it better than he had hoped: her lips quivered and she bit them. In that one movement he saw the whole struggle.

"When did you hear it?" he said, after a long, a painful pause.

"Four days ago. He told me—himself."

"I am afraid it was the only end possible," he said, gently.

"I suppose so."

"Were you—very much—astonished?"

"A little."

"Will it make a great difference in your life?"

"I miss him," she said. For one moment her eyes shone—for even tears have a brief brilliancy, a youth—and then their light was quenched. "It is hard to have no one to talk to. Do you think it will take very long to get used to this—silence?"

"Not long," said Legge: "you will be surprised