Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/283

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A Study in Temptations.

"I know that," he replied, "but you said this morning——"

"I am always being told what I said this morning! Never mind what I said six hours ago: it is the afternoon now. I suppose I may change my mind."

"But," he said, "I am heartily sick of all this absurd mystery. I—I am rather proud. I cannot explain it, but it affects your honour. These reports you find so amusing are gross insults. I was mad to make such a fool's promise."

"No," said Sophia, "you were not mad, you were in love with me, that's all. You have promised anything!" It was most indiscreet to remind him of this mournful truth. Wrath received it with sublime (if highly coloured) indignation.

"I was never in love with you," he replied, angrily. "I detest the phrase. Wife to me is a sacred name.... But few women understand a man's best feelings, and least of all on the subject of love. They do not realize that even the vilest of us would rather think that the woman he loves is a bit of divinity. ...But it is very seldom that she will let him think so—very seldom.... Are we quarrelling?" he said, abruptly; "once I thought we could never quarrel. This is terrible!"

"This," she said, "is marriage!"

"You speak as though you regretted——"

"You recognize regret as though you were long acquainted with it!" A woman always handles sarcasm with the point towards her own breast. Sophia turned pale at her own words.

"You do regret," she said.

"I regret anything that makes you unhappy."