Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/19

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Some Emotions and a Moral.

"You have been overworking," said Golightly, "and this morbidity is the result. All your life you have been zealously bottling your spirits, and now you complain because they are stale. You have always avoided sympathy, and yet you grumble because you are out of touch with the world."

"Sympathy," said Provence, "is the one emotion which seems most perfect as it becomes most animal: in its human aspect it too often lapses into the moralizing grandmother. Animals don't ask questions and cannot answer back. A dog can put more soul into a look than a kind friend can talk in an hour."

He had ceased pacing the floor, and was now sitting in a dark corner of the room. In the twilight Golightly could see the outline of his figure, and the nervous movement of his firm, strong hands.

"Provence," he said, "I have often thought—I know it is a delicate subject—that if you could meet some nice, really nice girl—women are so clever at understanding dispositions———" Here he found the subject not only delicate, but too difficult. He stopped short.

"Girls do not delight me," said Provence; "they appear to have no intermediate stage between the guileless chicken and the coquettish hen. My ideal woman is a combination of the Madonna and the Wood-nymph—with the Wood-nymph element predominating. As for marriage, I fear it is a sadly overrated blessing. Wives are either too much devil or too much angel. Fancy eating bacon every morning of one's life with a blameless creature who was dangling one-quarter of the way from heaven