Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/323

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A Study in Temptations.

"Then," said the lady, "suppose we tried it for a little before we actually bound ourselves by any religious and legal form?"

He saw immediately the countless advantages of this suggestion, and, as they unrolled themselves he grew pale at the disadvantages of his first plan. It is the memory of peril and not peril itself which is so appalling. De Boys looked back at the last ten minutes as he might have glanced at a thunderbolt which had missed him by an inch.

"We must, of course, do nothing rash," he said, "because rashness would mar the harmony of the action. To do things decently and in order is the very rhythm of existence."

"I will think it well over," said Sophia, "and let you know my decision on Monday; but until then do not refer again to the subject. If we talk, it must be as though this conversation had never taken place."

"But on Monday," said De Boys, "I must leave."

"Then," said Sophia, calmly, "I will tell you in good time, so that you may make the necessary preparations—whether I have decided to accompany you."

"But," he stammered, "might not that look odd? Your guardian——"

"I am not Wrath's ward," she said; "I am my own mistress. Leave everything to me."

A long silence followed: they sauntered, one of them quite blindly, towards the house.

"I fancy," he said, "I heard the dressing-gong."

Sophia thought, that although he was a better conversationalist than Wrath he did not wear so well: two hours seemed to exhaust the fund of his ideas.