Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/188

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172
The Sinner's Comedy.
 

in June—that it was perfect for June—that a year of such would be unhealthy. He had mistaken la grande passion for passion. It consoled him to call to mind that Marcus Aurelius had also fallen into some fits of love, "but was soon cured." Emily's face came upon him—it was less lovely than Anna's, more bewitching, more human, less spiritual. He thought he had read her character very truly at first sight. She was Circe. Reconsidering his decision, however, at a distance of four weeks and sixty miles, he saw that there were weak points in the Circe theory. Emily was the Popian—merely Popian—coquette: perhaps too fond of admiration: decidedly weak. Pretty? yes, if one admired the opal—set in brilliants. Her hair always smelt of violets. (Scent got into one's brains.) There was none of that mincing sensuality about Anna.

When he saw her at her studio the next day, she was very quiet and grave. The only canvas in the room had its face to the wall.

"I am very nervous about showing it to you," she said; "no one else has seen it. I am so afraid you will think it is rubbish. If you do," she added, "I shall cut it up—and start afresh."

"Even if I think," he said, awkwardly, "that you have hardly had experience enough yet—you see, you are very young——"

He felt he could never flatter her—never pay her mere formal compliments. If her work were bad, he would have to say so.

She went slowly towards the canvas. He was anxious himself, and could not understand the anxiety. It was a new sensation. He dreaded to see her failure; the suspense was intolerable.