Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/269

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
A Study in Temptations.
253
 

merely natural charms of feature and colouring, only seized on second thoughts. They were the thin veil over a sparkling radiance, which, whether it were due to virtue, or wit, or coquetry, was too dazzling for Speculation—aged twenty-one and a son of Adam.

"Did I understand you to say," she said, "that you were on your way to The Cloisters?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Then you must be De Boys Mauden." (He bowed.) "I am Sophia Jenyns."

"What!" he exclaimed, "the new Lady Macbeth?"

"The newest," she said, drily. "You must know," she continued, wondering at Mauden's extreme astonishment, yet pleased, for she could translate all things into flattery—"you must know that I came out to gather honeysuckle this afternoon, because I wanted to see whether I would be happier if I were more like the primitive woman. Every one is talking about nature, so I thought I would try it. I have been so bored: I longed to be at home reading Hardy, or St. Augustine, or Hegel, or somebody."

"Do you read Hegel?" he said.

"I read everything," she replied, "don't you?"

"No," he said, and looked gratefully at heaven.

This young lady who was so far from philosophy that she tried nature, and so far from nature that she longed for philosophy, chuckled and picked up her flower basket.

"You Oxford men," she said, "are more proud of what you have not read than of what you have read. Come, we can walk to The Cloisters together. I hope you like Lady Hyde-Bassett as well as I do."

"I should like her better if I thought she had