Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/265

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A Study in Temptations.

not seldom as fools, admiring the heroes, yet finding much to be said for the villains, and displaying, for her age, sex, and inexperience, an unusual desire for strict—indeed rigorous—justice. Even now, smarting under De Boys's fancied indifference, she blamed her own poverty of attractions, not his callousness, which, since she promised—to the seeing eye—to be a beautiful woman, was as wrong-headed and feminine as it well could be.

As the days dragged on she realized how much De Boys had been to her, how much of her supposed independence had rested on his support, how much her courage had fed on his sympathy, how everything in her mind which gave her the smallest satisfaction was not her own at all, but borrowed from him. And now he was gone, it seemed as though the earth which she trampled on as a right, had suddenly slipped away, and left her without a footing, to sink, and sink, and sink, as one does in a nightmare. At first she saw a substitute for De Boys in a tow-headed youth who sang in the chapel choir, and she talked to him of the books she read, as she would to her lover, only to grow absent-minded, however, and wake to catch an unsympathetic and wondering eye: phrases, jokes, and little words full of meaning to herself and De Boys lost all their point when exchanged with her few friends in the village, and very soon she learnt the absolute dissimilarity in minds, and how very little except weakness one human being has in common with another.

Jane had always found such balm for all her small troubles in being understood by De Boys, which meant, no doubt, that he saw no fault in her, and