Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/274

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258
A Study in Temptations.
 

to be the most exhaustive possible, and "Bellarmine on Villon," it was said, would be read like Coke on Lyttleton, as much for the commentary as the text.

"I am so glad to find you alone," she said. "Sophia Jenyns has gone out for what she calls a prowl, and Wrath is playing Bach in the music room. What a gifted man! What is the relationship between them, dear? I have heard every impossible explanation."

Eliza Bellarmine was a discreet, cold-blooded person who could meet Nature face to face without blushing, and wink at the frailties of Culture. Lady Hyde-Bassett, on the other hand, would only see evil where she wished to see it: when she met unpleasant truths she rode off on what she called her instincts, and they carried her like Barbara mares. She did not reply to her friend's question immediately.

"There is no truth in the story," she said, at last.

"I have heard," said Miss Bellarmine, "that there is more than truth—there are diamonds!"

"I thought, Eliza, you were above such littlenesses! Sophia Jenyns is the most pure-minded woman I know. She is not like other geniuses—she is different."

"They are all different—with a sameness. I have known thirty, and they were all pure-minded, and had, at least, three husbands and an episode!"

"We must not judge them," murmured her ladyship; "they are so fascinating, and their husbands are always so brutal."

"The artistic temperament," said Miss Bellarmine, in measured tones—"the artistic temperament is only faithful for the purposes of local colour—to experience fidelity, in fact. Then the next step is to gain some