Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/321

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A Study in Temptations.
305
 

I think I could write it better," said De Boys.

"Do you, too, write?" she said. "A—a friend of mine had—a friend who never told her anything, but he wrote beautiful letters—oh, such letters! and then he would walk up and down the room while she read them." Her head drooped and her voice trembled; these reminiscences were heart-breaking. "But," she said, looking up, "you are not at all like the man who did that: you are quite—quite different. I should have thought you could have spoken out."

"I can," cried De Boys, on his mettle—"I can! I will, now that you have told me—I may."

"Of course you may" said Sophia, "because my knowledge of you assures me that you will not say anything—silly. I mean something which ought not to be said—or written."

"Friendship," said De Boys—"perfect friendship casteth out fear. Between friends there ought to be no dread of giving offence."

"N—no!" said Sophia; "but at the same time we must not think that our friends are the only people we can treat rudely, and with unkindness."

"Unkindness!" said De Boys. "How can you so misunderstand me!"

"I was not thinking of you," she said. "At that moment I had other friends in my mind—women friends."

This was only a half-truth, and it flashed across her mind that it was not easy to be saintly even in the course of a most innocent conversation: one could lie in all circumstances and for the most trivial reason—indeed, for no reason in the world.