Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/200

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184
The Sinner's Comedy.
 

eyes on the door or some old woman? I am sick of it. This is the sort of thing that drives people into matrimony. Don't laugh at me—it is. Emily, meet me in town on Monday. Let us be married quietly—by special license. We won't tell any one about it. You need only regard it as a form of engagement—if you like. I only want to know that you belong to me—that whatever happens, you are my wife. Is that much to ask—when I love you as I do?"

"Wouldn't it seem odd? What would people say?" The idea, however, appealed to her. Though it spelt a marriage certificate, it sounded like throwing her cap over the windmill. Irresistible witchcraft! Her eyes sparkled.

"What fun!" she said.

Everything, he saw, depended on his self-restraint. A movement, an expression, a word too much or too little, and his case would be ruined. That she was a nice problem in diplomatics was not the least considerable of her fascinations: he could never be sure of her. She was not a woman one could woo dozing. He looked round. Mrs. Molle and Carlotta had gone into the little boudoir which led off from the drawing-room. He could hear their voices: they were searching for a mislaid letter. Swiftly and boldly he caught Emily in his arms and—did not kiss her. He just put his lips to her ear and said, "You are so beautiful!" Badly managed, the thing would have been a hug. Unspeakable vulgarity! As he did it, however, it was a movement of much grace indicative of passion.

Emily said nothing.

"Dearest, you will come on Monday?"