Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/290

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A Study in Temptations.

But Sophia, who happened to come into the room at that moment, and who had not heard the preceding remark, did not understand it.

"Oh," she said, lightly, "I am looking for young Mauden. Such an intelligent boy! I promised to show him the conservatory."

Without looking at Wrath—or at least, without appearing to look, for we may be quite sure that she had nicely observed every line of his countenance—she wheeled round and went out.

"How lovely she looks in that yellow crêpe!" said Margaret, not enviously, yet with a sigh. "It is nice to be young!"

Wrath felt that it would ill become him to be unreservedly enthusiastic on the subject, seeing his close relation to the lady. But he walked to the door and watched the incomparable creature sail down the corridor.

As he went upstairs to dress for dinner, he wondered what he had done to deserve the love of such a woman, and, lest any cynical reader should assume that so excellent and kind-hearted a man was thanking Heaven for a blessing which he did not possess, let us hasten to add that Sophia was no less often astonished, on her part, that she was blessed with such a husband. For, to do her justice, she knew his strength and her own weakness: if he indulged her beyond reason, the fact was due to his magnanimity and not her superior will. He might have crushed her but did not. Hence, his charm.

But on that particular afternoon Sophia's heart was usurped by feeling very unlike gratitude: vague anger, clear discontent, and motherless desperation—the three