Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/298

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A Study in Temptations.

her love was wholesome and honest, and worked for good, not evil. She was only too well aware that she had no smallest claim on Wrath's consideration: he had given her no encouragement—indeed, it would have been hard to find a man who had less of the drawing room gallant in his manner with any woman. So marked was his deficiency in the elegant art of disrespectful attentions that many fashionable ladies declared they could not endure the rude monster, and were he not supposed to be wonderfully clever (although they could see nothing in his pictures), they would never even notice the wretch. Eliza, therefore, like many of us in unhappy circumstances, had only her own foolishness to blame, and that she knew this was not the least bitter of her several pangs. But already she had put Wrath out of her heart for all time.

"Never, never, never, never!"

This was her solemn incantation, and lo! even as she spoke the only romance of her dull life shivered, sobbed, and vanished. She could have cut off her hand with the same unhesitating precision had it seemed necessary. But such triumphs, whether over the will or the body, are not cheaply won: decisive moments are not realized by time, and what is done in sixty ticks of the clock the soul must remember or regret for eternity.

Eliza, having mastered a great situation in her life, was only conscious that she felt much older and very tired. She bathed her eyes, ordered herself some tea, and sat down to read Arckenholz on Christina of Sweden—four portentous volumes which she had chosen from Sir Benjamin's library as light, yet