Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/249

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A Study in Temptations.

This effusion had been rejected by the editor of the Brentmore, Haddington, and Mertford Express on the ground that it was "too reckless"; but Jane thought it extremely fine. Once, and only once in the course of her singing, she stole a glance at her companion.

De Boys was tall and straight, of careless but not awkward bearing. In countenance he looked like a cherub who had talked long hours with Puck—his expression was at once so subtle, so artless, and so discreet. A chuckle lurked in the deep recesses of his eye, but the imp rarely ventured to the surface. His nose had an eager and inquiring air, as though it were ever scenting for an undiscovered country; his beardless lips were pliant, and told his kind, pleasure-loving, and generous disposition.

He was the first to make a remark. "I have been thinking," he said, "what your mouth is like," he blushed—"it is like a kiss made incarnate."

"I hate kissing," said Jane, hurriedly. "I was not born under a kissing star. Kissing is silly."

"I fear it is," sighed De Boys.

"There is nothing to fear" said Jane. "But what does it mean, or what is the use of doing things which mean so little?"

"I think," said De Boys, trying to look unprejudiced, " kissing might mean a great deal if—if the people cared for each other."

"Have you ever kissed any one and meant a great deal?" said Jane, with anxiety.

De Boys glanced up at the sky. "The clouds are brooding," he said. "I would not wonder if it rained. No, it is not my custom to kiss women. I hate it quite as much as you do."