Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/240

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224
A Study in Temptations.
 

rainbow haze of her own moods—the idea of being damned for love became so familiar and so fascinating, that to love without losing one's soul (if, indeed, such a thing were possible), seemed to her dull, spiritless, monotonous, and bumpkin like. To marry, to settle, to grow stout, and at the last to be "Jane, wife of the above, aged 74. Until the day break and the shadows flee away." Unthinkable prospect! But to float in the air through countless ages—a sight to inspire poets and make them swoon—that were a destiny worthy the name! She confided this opinion to De Boys, who agreed that it would be fine to swim in the winds; but he thought that a girl hanging on his neck would mar the gloriousness of the excursion. Such is the brutality of man at fourteen.

Quite early De Boys had shown a taste for learning, and had dreams very far removed from the walls, turnip-fields, and potato-beds of Up-at-Battle's. He held very pronounced views on literary style, and wrote numerous sermons in the manner of Gibbon, which Jane considered far superior to anything achieved by that historian himself. In gayer moments he attempted blank verse (in the Miltonic strain), and composed two acts of a tragedy—"Julius Caesar in Britain"—in which Jane declared that Julius Caesar sounded exactly like De Boys, particularly in a fine speech about women, which began, "Hence, pampered minions, born of pride and folly" and ended, "I scorn such soft-mouthed babblers." The third act (still un-written) he assured her would be the most tremendous of the five.

His own observation, helped by hints from the neighbours, had taught him very soon that he was