Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/239

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A Study in Temptations.

likelike figure, which counteracted the occasional sharpness of her tongue. Miss Caroline, like happy Peter Bell, beheld but did not speculate: she tended her garden, watched the stars, and read two chapters of Scripture every night of her life. She kept hens, and ducks, and bees, and her butter was the pride of the country. She possessed a Maltese lace shawl, and an illustrated Shakespeare, also a set of Whitby jet ornaments, and an amethyst brooch. These treasures, however, she kept locked in her wardrobe because they were heirlooms, and as such were treasured in silver paper. For light literature she gave Jane "The Pilgrim's Progress," "Lady Audley's Secret," "Amy Herbert," "Paul and Virginia," "Roderick Random," "Æsop's Fables," "Robinson Crusoe," and, on Sunday afternoons and anniversaries, Dante's "Inferno," illustrated by Doré. The horrors of this last, while they struck misery to Jane's soul, were largely mitigated by the story of Francesca de Rimini, which, Miss Caroline thought, could only be edifying, since, from all she could gather, the whole Rimini family were in Hell, and burning examples of foreign immorality and its just reward. Why so gentle a being as Caroline Battle should take satisfaction, so deep-reaching that it amounted to pleasure, in a tale which for exciting pity and terror is hardly to be matched, can only be accounted for on the ground, that Hell and sin, as actualities, were so impossible to her imagination, that she believed in one and disapproved of the other as a child swallows medicine, and "hates" porridge.

To Jane, however, whose character was of a very different cast—for she saw everything through the