Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/175

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"You must have loved somebody else once?"

"Never. In the first place, it is impossible to really love—more than once."

"To really love, perhaps—but men have fancies!"

It was in the music-room at the Vallences'. Emily was taking off her gloves. Sir Richard was watching her. They had both called on Carlotta by appointment to discuss a forthcoming bazaar: Carlotta, with a magnificent instinct, was detained at the Vicarage. The gentle Digby was engaged in his study reviving an old dramatist. He could not be disturbed.

"Men have died and worms have eaten them" said Sir Richard; "these things will happen."

"Then you have had fancies," she said, with just a note of disappointment in her voice (she, too, had a mind for Exceptions)—"was it very long ago?"

For one brief, too brief moment, he felt tempted to tell her the truth. She was a woman who could hear the truth, and even speak it. It never affected her disagreeably in either case. He thought he might hint something of a youthful madness, and Emily, true to her sex, would no doubt forgive it all with divine generosity, and hate the woman at the bottom of it like the devil.

"I have never had any fancies," he said, at last, and (theoretically) tore up Anna's last note, at that