Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/266

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A Study in Temptations.

made a grace out of every shortcoming—that is to say, where her shortcomings affected others. He made nicer distinctions in her offences against himself. But in her dealings with the world at large he always proved her in the right, even when she knew herself in the wrong, and thus when she least agreed with him, he was most consoling. True, now he was absent, he wrote to her, but the letters were for family perusal, and even though "Do not forget the guinea pig" stood for "My very dearest, how I long to see you," it was a flimsy substitute for a love letter, her own, and bristling with "dearests" in plain English. Gradually restraint showed itself in her replies: the guinea pig untimely died, De Boys adopted a more learned tone, Jane found him more difficult to answer, she doubted whether she loved him, and grew pale at the doubt; spent whole hours trying to prove that she was perfectly happy without him, and whole nights crying because she was not.

When she heard that he did not intend to return home till the end of his third term, she made no comment, but brought her lips so sharply together, that they lost their look of childish indecision for all time.