Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/293

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A Study in Temptations.

in question she was capable of any sacrifice, could have made herself as though she were not, would have renounced all things and followed him gladly—did he wish it—into obscurity and the suburbs. It was because she honestly believed that his social position would suffer if their marriage were made known, that she pretended to hold such eccentric and unfeminine views on the subject of a fair name. How the poor creature winced and ached under the looks and whisperings she daily noted and overheard, it would be impossible to say. A woman who is really living an immoral life always feels, like a condemned criminal, that the verdict is, if hard to bear, certainly just. But to Sophia, conscious of her innocence and only too proud to be the wife of the man she loved and honoured above all others, the mud pellets aimed at her reputation, stuck like knives in her heart. That she was suffering for an absurd reason has nothing to do with it: death in grotesque circumstances is none the less death, and the martyr to a fool's cause is still a martyr. As we have said before, it is the heart that makes the occasion.

It had transpired, after Wrath was elected a Royal Academician, that his family was most distinguished: his uncle the Cabinet Minister, his cousins the Wrath-Havilands of Wrath, his mother's aunt, the Marchioness of Welby, and his connections, the Granville-Coxes of Somerset, to say nothing of his step-brother, General Gorm-Gorm, and his step sister-in-law, Lady Gertrude Gorm-Gorm, &c., &c. To Wrath himself the whole thing was too ludicrous to be contemptible, but Sophia—poor Sophia—was undeniably impressed. The early teaching of a