Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/314

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"A Study in Temptations".

the Church, and had his eyes fixed on a professorial chair. Professor Mauden and Lady Jane Mauden did not, in his opinion, sound well. By a confusion of ideas, too, Jane Shannon seemed the shadow and Sophia Jenyns the reality, and while he composed his pretty speeches to Jane, he rehearsed them (with appropriate expression) to Sophia. It must be remembered, he was quite unaware that the actress was Wrath's wife.

Wrath had begun his Madonna, and when he was not painting, he would sit in rapturous thought. The Madonna, too, not to speak irreverently, had Margaret's nose—and Sophia's nose had a far finer shape than Lady Hyde-Bassett's. Sophia shed bitter tears over the agonizing pettiness of the whole trouble; but, in the first place, she was feeling ill, and secondly, as she told herself, straws show which way the wind blows. That her husband made his picture like Margaret, against his will—indeed, unconsciously — was a significant and appalling fact: his very St. Joseph had a look of her. Yet Wrath fondly imagined that his work was purely ideal, flatly opposed to realism, all composed from the unearthly material of his religious instinct. These reflections and a constant headache were as frank in their villainy as the stage-direction—"Enter, attendant, with two murderers." No creatures for compromise, these!

Sophia was strolling in the garden with De Boys one afternoon, and found herself thinking that love was a mistake—it made one too unhappy; friendship, on the other hand, was soothing and agreeable.

"Social conventions," De Boys was saying, "are the greatest nuisance. I would banish them with a