Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/187

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The Sinner's Comedy.

"When a man suspects that his God is not taking him seriously, he changes his religion," said Sacheverell; "are women less philosophical?"

"Gods are so scarce," sighed Anna; "if a woman finds even a false one—she thinks herself fortunate."

For the next twenty minutes they played at disagreeing. Such flat disagreement was never heard within those peaceful walls. "I shall have more to say on the subject to-morrow," said Sacheverell, when he left.

"I could say miles at this minute," said Anna.

After he had gone she drew him, from memory. The result was such a miserable failure in her eyes that she burnt it—with a refinement of cruelty—by inches. Nor did she ever attempt to draw him again. It may be that a suggestion, a hint of him, cropped out occasionally in the turn of a head, in an arm, or in a look round the brows, but that was all. She kept the Man to herself: he could not be chopped into illustrations.

Sacheverell had guessed from Legge's remark that Anna was none other than the mysterious artist who looked like Vittoria Colonna. It was strange that he should have met her—very strange. Having met her, he was quite certain that the love had been all on Sir Richard's side: that the story was all on Sir Richard's side. That such a woman could care for such a man was impossible. It was easy to understand, however, why Mrs. Prentice might care for him. He had given very little thought to Emily since the evening she had played in the church. He remembered her as one remembers some certain night