Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/232

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A Study in Temptations.

morning; here it is: 'Study of an Infant Genius: aged four days.'"

"Don't talk of her," said Jenyns, fiercely; "I never wish to look upon her face again. She killed her mother. . . .I see no God in nature—only Hell, cruel, relentless, hideous."

"Bah!" said Wrath. "Don't get your nose in an artificial manure heap and think you are studying nature. If you take Zola for your gospel and the gospel for fiction, God must help you. I cannot. Where is your spirit?"

"I do not want to be a hero," said Jenyns, sullenly, "or a saint; I want my wife."

"Heroes and husbands are made by the occasion," said Wrath; "no one is born a husband and no one is born a pious, homicidal hero! At first he is just man—man with a birthright of seven deadly sins and one small conscience. There never was a saint, you may rest perfectly sure, but he might have fallen twenty times a day, if he had not fought the enemy with fine courage. Why don't you howl because the trees are bare? Who would think that such grim skeletons could ever be bright with leaves again, or look just as they did last year? Yet they will; and so, when the time comes, you will see your wife; you have only buried the dead leaves of a soul." At no time an eloquent man but always one to whom speech was even a painful effort, he went out of the room after this outburst. With the inconsequence of the artistic reason he had a sudden idea for a picture he was then designing.

Jenyns was once more alone. He gave a feeble laugh and hurried to the window; it was open; he