Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/289

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A Study in Temptations.

wonder. "I never tease her when she is studying a new part," he explained; "she is much too sensitive to be able to do good work under the stress of annoyance. And to a woman of her nervous temperament a small fret is more distressing than a serious calamity: her patience is too mighty for trivialities. Paper boats cannot sail in the north wind!" He smiled, and was evidently fully alive to what the world called the cussedness of the divine Sophia: only he did not call it cussedness; it was to him the last magnificent touch to her colossal spirit.

"But when do you try her patience?" said Lady Hyde-Bassett. "If every woman of genius had such a husband! I do not wonder that she worships the ground you walk on: that is a secret which she cannot keep. Oh, when a man is unselfish, no woman—not even the best——can compare with him. Splendid! splendid! I have only known one man like you, and that was Sir Benjamin." The sudden remembrance of her own desolation was so afflicting that her eyes filled with tears.

"Do not mention us in the same breath," said Wrath; "you know what I think about him."

It had been his appreciation for Sir Benjamin which had assailed her heart so perilously in what we call the If period. "It is such a comfort to me," she said, "to know that at least one of my husband's friends had some conception of the man apart from his attainments. I must have loved him, if he had only been a sausage-seller!"

It was, no doubt, very touching, and perhaps an occasion when her ladyship could throw an affectionate glance at her guest with perfect propriety.