Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/226

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A Study in Temptations.

"I knows some," said his senior, with a grim smile, "as 'ud thank the Almighty if they could go 'ome and find the 'ouse empty! They wouldn't say nothink agin the goodness of Gord, they wouldn't. They wouldn't be writin' none of this 'ere. They would be foldin' their 'ands and sayin' as Gord's will is for the best, and be-yaving theirselves like Christians!"

Then they resumed their work, and in working forgot to moralize.

The object of their remarks, meanwhile, having refused to drive home in the solitary mourning coach which with the hearse had formed the funeral procession, found his strength so unequal to the task of walking, that he sank on a bench outside a public house, which stood conveniently near the entrance to the cemetery. He was, as the grave-digger had observed, quite young and certainly not more than two-and-twenty. He was tall, but somewhat bent—not that he stooped, there was rather a leaning forward of his whole body. His brilliant eyes seemed to have burnt deep into their sockets, and they cast a flickering light on the pallor of his cheeks, which looked the more pale in contrast with his dark hair.

He was at an early stage of grief, and he felt as though he were two beings—one, speechless and stricken; the other, a mere spectator, who philosophized, and mocked, and wept, and laughed by starts and was only constant in watching. That he was sorrowful, he guessed—but what was sorrow? He knew that he had loved—yet what was love? He lived—and what was life? Mary was dead. Immortality might be, but she once was. O lovely fact to weigh against the ghost-like possibility!