Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/320

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"A Study in Temptations".

"I never thought of that before," she said, "but now you speak of it, I see the reasonableness of the idea. It explains everything."

"But," said De Boys, "we are both young: we can never seem children to each other. We both know that we are responsible beings, that we are masters of our fate: that we are under the law of liberty."

"Masters of our fate," repeated Sophia; "do you believe that?"

"How can I disbelieve it," he said, "when I live and have the evidence of each day to convince me."

Sophia turned her face towards him. "Tell me," she said, "what I must do. I am tired of thinking. The world seems so unreal sometimes, and words and people and things lose all meaning. But I could be obedient, I could do what I was told, and I think—I could be happy that way. I want to escape from my own commands: I—I am too merciless a tyrant."

"Sophia!" said Mauden. He had never called her Sophia before: it was a great step for him, but she was too preoccupied to notice it. "Sophia," he said, again, "can we not both be obedient to our best instincts? can we not follow them—together?"

"What are they?" said Sophia; "and can we trust them?"

Before he could reply, the sound of Wrath's deep, rare laughter came through the windows which opened on the lawn. Was it thus that Madonnas were painted?

"Finish," said Sophia, turning pale—"finish what you were going to say—when he laughed."