Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/316

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"A Study in Temptations".
 

least, in oneself! "A hero, nowadays," he went on, "need not fight: he has only to say he would like to fight if he could!"

"You have so much moral courage," said Sophia, "and I have none!"

"If I may say so, I think you are the most courageous woman I have ever met. You have not only the power to Will—but to Do."

"I fear you are mistaken. I have too much Do and too little Will—if you understand me."

"A little impulsive, perhaps."

"I can only resist one impulse by yielding to another," said Sophia. "I know my own character too well. I need a restraining force."

De Boys drew himself up, and would have made a fine allegorical study for any of the heroic virtues.

"You," he said, "may need a restraining force in the same way that a highly poetical imagination requires discipline: noble desires and fine thoughts must not be wasted on that 'chartered libertine,' the air." The breeze stirred a maddening curl which fluttered on the nape of Sophia's neck, and the young man sighed. So far, air had the advantage of philosophy.

"A woman like you," he said, "so extraordinarily gifted—I speak quite impersonally—might do so much by refusing to accept the low standard of existing morality. We want some beautiful and witty saint: what Wrath might call 'a saint in drawing.' It is such a cruel wrong to give people the idea that only sinners are amusing or good-looking. There is sublime beauty, no doubt, in the mere expression of a pure-minded being: but when a fine spirit is set in