Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/214

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The Sinner's Comedy.

cruel hard, it is. She might ha'eat me out of house and home, poor dear, for less than the asking. It's a life thrown away, that's what it is. Clean thrown away. And that husband of hers, with his three changes of air a year and a hot lunch every day of his life—he flourishes, he does. He's upstairs now—taking on. You never see'd such antics. Reg'lar high-strikes. He's fit to bust hisself crying. But he's got just enough sense to stop before the bust comes. Let him howl. That's what I say. Let him howl! . . . There ain't no use trying to understand Providence. To take her and leave him."

"I could not wish her back," said Sacheverell. He bent over and kissed Anna's marble brow—marble-cold and more radiant than the lilies on her breast—and then passed out of the room. Her spirit followed him: he left Kilcoursie gazing at her dead body.

When he reached home it was late in the evening. But he sat down to work at his sermon for the following Sunday. And he worked well; writing had not been so easy to him for months—for months it had been a painful labour.

Eleanor watched him curiously. His calmness seemed to her a little unfeeling. She had always given him credit for a certain amount of heart. She could only compare his position to her own when the Major died, and she had been distracted. Her prostrate condition had been the talk of every tea-party in Ballincollig for weeks. If Peter had been in love with that extraordinary artist-woman, he certainly had a very singular way of showing it.

"Will you preach to-morrow, as usual?" she ventured to say.