Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/21

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Some Emotions and a Moral.

monotonous," said Provence. "Lord! Lord! what a charm is there in variety!"

"Ideas of that sort are very apt to land one in difficulties. You might as well cling to a slippery rock for the fun of falling off. If you were to take a short holiday you would probably come back with saner notions."

"I believe you are getting to the bottom of the matter," said Provence. "I certainly do want change of some sort. I have eaten my fill of chops and tomato sauce: I am hankering for locusts and wild honey and a wilderness."

"In the wilderness one is apt to be tempted of the devil," said Golightly, half under his breath.

Provence laughed. "Man is at best a learned pig," he said, "and the pig nature has its promptings. It will root for truffles in Sahara or Paradise." Then with characteristic abruptness he wished Golightly good-night, and left the house.

When Golightly went down into the drawing-room—for he and Provence had been talking in a small room known to the housemaid as the library—he found three ladies there and a gentleman. The elder of the ladies was rather stout and had a Wellington nose: she wore a mantle, and a black bonnet which consisted of two velvet strings and an impossible jet butterfly which wobbled on an invisible wire; her gown was black silk. She reclined in her chair, sipped her tea, and nibbled her muffin, with that air of combined condescension and embarrassment which is usually characteristic of the moneyed relative. The lady at the tea-tray was slim, smooth-cheeked, and perhaps forty; she had a quantity of mouse-coloured