Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/317

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A Study in Temptations.
301
 

fair material, and she can flavour her chaste conversation with Attic salt, her influence must undoubtedly cover a larger field than if she looked dowdy and talked banalities. And, I take it, a woman who did not accept life in its vanity, would find no possible pleasure in the adornment of her own person: she would simply regard it as a duty which she owed to society—one which, I think, would come under the head of honouring the king!"

Sophia felt her enthusiasm rising towards sainthood: De Boys had a perfectly charming view of moral obligations.

"You think," she quavered, "it is a duty to try—and look—decent!" Two hours and a half spent over her toilette that morning needed some slight justification.

De Boys's eyes wandered over her face and figure.

"Unquestionably," he said, with what resembled, but was not, calmness; "unquestionably, a duty."

"How," said Sophia, "should one begin if one wished to rebel against existing low standards of morality?"

"By the silent but convincing force of example," he replied—"by your actions."

"What kind of actions?" she asked. "You know—I have—" she blushed—"a soup kitchen."

Delicious simpleton! and with it all, a genius!

"Soup kitchens," he said gravely, "are excellent; but, morally speaking, they do not convey anything but soup."

Their eyes met, and the result was a duet in laughter.

"You shall not make fun of me," she said at last.